"The very real suffering being endured by large numbers of Canadians" has moved the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada to "call for justice and a sharing of our resources."
In a statement sent today to the Prime Minister, Mr. Clark and Mr. Broadbent the Bishops expressed concern not only about inflation and high interest rates, but also about "Government restraints imposed on schools and universities."
The Bishops represent thirty dioceses of the Church in Canada, from coast to coast. They were meeting last week in Pierrefonds, Quebec.
The full text of their statement is enclosed.
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The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada feels a deep concern for the welfare of Canadians at this period in our history.
We commend Federal and Provincial leaders for the new initiative to strengthen our unity as a people. However, we are increasingly disturbed by the very real suffering being endured by large numbers of Canadians who are losing their homes because of high mortgage rates. The daily struggle with inflation and high interest rates affects those least able to cope - our senior citizens and families on low income. We share a deep concern over high unemployment especially of young Canadians who are our future. Coupled with this, Government restraints imposed on schools and universities mean that fewer young people will receive the benefits of educational opportunity to prepare them for a complex society in which they will need more education, not less.
The bishops do not pretend to have answers which Parliamentarians and economists have not discovered but we do claim that the Christian gospel has insights for such a time as this; our faith predicates that Christians have the obligation to be involved in society and the Church has the duty to call for justice and a sharing of our resources in order that the greatest good for the greatest number may be secured.
We believe that we live in a fortunate land and that Christians should be foremost in supporting the unity of Canada and in sensitivity to our differences which can offer us strength and a rich mosaic of life.
We hold that every Canadian has the right to be employed and to be decently housed and that Christian people have the duty to press government to that necessary goal.
We hold the thesis that our young people are one of our greatest assets and that all of us must share the struggle to ensure the best future possible for them.
We realise the cost involved but would commend the Christian imperative to share for the general good of all.
VANCOUVER, November 18, 1997 -- The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum falls far short of Christian criteria for just development and a moral economy, according to members of the Anglican Church's EcoJustice Committee.
Canada will host the next round of APEC talks in Vancouver next week (November 23-25). The stated intention of the forum is admirable. According to the leaders statement after the 1996 forum, in Manila, it is: "to enrich the lives and improve the standards of living of all citizens on a substantial basis." However, the nature of the forum belies this goal in several important ways:
- its definition of "standard of living" is rigidly limited to a strictly economic understanding. Member countries are referred to as "economies" and political representatives as "economic leaders". In this perspective, "citizens" are reduced to "consumers";
- business leaders are given a privileged consultative status in the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), but the voices of other citizens are absent. The perspectives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labour and social groups are specifically excluded;
- even by APEC's limited definition, many topics with enormous economic significance are specifically excluded. For example, the environmental consequences of economic activity are never discussed with reference to minimum environmental standards. Similarly, labour standards and even basic human rights have been excluded from the talks;
- fundamental political issues, including questions of the rights of indigenous peoples, are excluded. Two recent Canadian court decisions have shown that indigenous rights to natural resources can have dramatic economic impacts;
- in keeping with objectives stated after last year's APEC forum, the Vancouver discussions are expected to lead to further privatization, deregulation and reduction of "costs of doing business". In the past, this has been achieved by reducing minimum wages, reducing or eliminating social programs and safety nets, and removing policies for environmental protection;
- the discussions take place behind closed doors, and no actual legislation or proposal is ever presented to Parliament for public debate. Since APEC is not accountable to any Canadian public institution, it represents a fundamentally undemocratic process.
"The economy is a faith issue," says the Reverent Margaret Marquardt, chair of the EcoJustice Committee. "The economy is a major governing factor in the lives of all peoples, regardless of what part of the planet we occupy. The priorities and objectives of any economic initiative are therefore faith concerns.
"As Christians we are called to put the dignity and sacredness of human life at the centre of all our actions. As Christians we are called to share the earth's riches, while caring for creation itself. As Christians we are motivated by an ethic of cooperation. It is the assessment of this committee that APEC's aims and methods are contrary to these goals.
"How can we talk about economics apart from its relationship with a people, a nation, a land ? From a Christian perspective -- and, we would have thought, a political one -- it is impossible to separate economic investment from its impact on communities. It is impossible to separate economic activity from its effect on those who work in it."
Marquardt suggests it is fair to ask elected political leaders how their participation in APEC will "advance the standard of living of all citizens," and particularly:
- what will happen to workers in Canada and elsewhere as liberalized trade tends increasingly to the reduction or elimination of minimum wages ?
- how will our standard of living be improved as standards of environmental protection are eliminated ?
- APEC systematically refuses to include, refer to, or advocate respect for basic human rights. As we deal more and more closely with repressive governments or regimes, what assurance do we have that Canada's human rights will not come to be viewed as an excessive cost of doing business ?
- how and when will the people whose lives are most affected be heard ?
"To view countries as economies and citizens as primarily consumers is to deny our humanity and to deny the web of mutuality in which we live, in communities which must be sustained," says Marquardt. "We believe there are fair trade and development alternatives. That is why we support Canadian churches and many other NGOs in their efforts to organize an effective People's Summit to do what the Government of Canada has failed to do: make the voices of citizens heard on these crucial issues."
The People's Summit, also in Vancouver, runs from November 17-24, 1997, with additional ecumenical events scheduled for November 25, 1997.
The EcoJustice Committee is a national committee of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. It is mandated by General Synod to work on issues of economic and social justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
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For further information, contact: The Rev. Margaret Marquardt, Chair, EcoJustice Committee Tel: (604) 874-5030
"In this `Bulletin; the Editorial Board presents a discussion between two parish clergymen on the subject of Socialism. Mr. Mercer of Edmonton, is well known in Western Canada for his active interest in the questions affecting labour, and is connected with the Trade Unions of his city. Dr. Blagrave approaches the subject more from the viewpoint of the scholar and thinker. Both writers are well qualified to present their arguments, and Churchpeople are left to make their own individual judgment on the two presentations (p. 3)".
Contents: Publications of the Council for Social Service of the Church of England in Canada -- The Church and Socialism -- [Introduction] -- Why Churchmen should be Socialists / By the Rev. F.E. Mercer, Edmonton, Alta. -- Why the Church should not adopt Socialism / Rev. R.C. Blagrave, D.D., Christ Church, Belleville, Ont.
The Credit Union "does not merely loan money but it engenders mutual encouragement, the exchange of ideas and often co-operation in the family projects of its members. There is virtue in the neighbourly Credit Union. A few uninformed people imagine that the Credit Union Movement is linked up with some political party. This is a mistake. .... A local Credit Union needs a cultural `core'. That can very aptly, indeed most aptly, be offered by the Church and by local congregations. The Roman Catholic Church in its various localities has been an inspiration to many of its members in this direction, and a centre from which they have established themselves as in Credit Union Groups. Being `members one of another' in a religious sense is a challenge to help others even in the simple monetary affairs of daily living. The Rev. Mr. Hatfield has collected material for this Bulletin. He has had first hand knowledge of the Movement. In addition to giving a picture of the operation of a Group, he has directed attention to sources of information which will be of use to clergy and lay people in parish and countryside". -- Foreword.
Contents: Foreword / W.W. Judd -- Credit Unions / Leonard F. Hatfield -- A History of the Credit Union Movement / E.R. Woolley -- Credit Unions : Operations and Safeguards / C. Gordon Smith -- Credit Unions and the Church / D.C. Candy -- St. Margaret's Parish Credit Union Limited / R.T.C. Dwelly -- Pertinent Books in the Council's Library.
Contents include a chart of the credit unions system entitled "A Useful Summary" and a diagram "How a Credit Union Works -- It's Cooperation".
"It is obvious within our Canadian economy that with a steadily growing core of unemployed in this country every parish is likely to have a number of people in greater or less degrees of debt. The diligent parish priest will undoubtedly be involved with problems of many of his parishioners and may find help in the material in this Bulletin. .... The Council for Social Service is greatly indebted to the Reverend C.R. Elliott, rector of Christ Church, Lantz, Nova Scotia, for the co-ordinating and assembling of findings of a special committee of the Council for Social Service which has been at work during the past year on this topic." -- Intro.
Contents: Introduction / Maurice P. Wilkinson -- Questions for Thought and Study -- Consumer Credit.
That this General Synod encourage members of the Church, through participation in existing national and local coalitions, to join in a process of consultation that seeks to develop an economic vision for Canada that emphasizes enterprises based on the following criteria:
This National House of Bishops of The Anglican Church of Canada expresses to the Government of Canada its deep concern for the hardships which arise from our current economic problems, especially as they affect economically handicapped people both within our nation, and beyond.
We are convinced that many of our economic problems arise from a serious spiritual malaise. This has been created amongst those Canadians who are still relatively secure, both an unrealistic expectation of continually increasing affluence, and an unwillingness to share proportionally in the adjustments made necessary by inflation and stagnant productivity. We commend and we support the principal of voluntary restraint in income for those Canadians who are not suffering from unemployment, including ourselves.
Further, we commend the Government for its often expressed intention to continue, despite economic recession, those social service programmes which support Canadians who are unemployed or underprivileged, and we regret that there have been recent cuts in foreign aid, for however necessary they may seem to be at present, we believe strongly that these cuts are not even in our own national interests in the long run, let alone that of under-developed nations. CARRIED
Guaranteed Annual Income is under its own heading.
The author reflects on the "edge habitats" and their existence in the physical, emotional and spiritual environments in which we live. "Edge habitat is the biological space between two ecosystems ... Life is abundant in edge habitat; more species live there than in either of the adjacent ecosystems. Life is also precarious." "I have come to believe edge habitat is the place we all live in these transitional times. It is an unnerving combination of possibility, risk and transformation, full of survival questions. As climate changes, we have to acknowledge we are all creatures, among many, who rely on the earth's health and well-being and act accordingly. As economies falter we have before us opportunities to do things differently, for the good of us all. Surely, Jesus' way to the cross is a Lenten invitation to walk in edge habitat together and choose to live in the fragile balance of abundant life".
The Primate writes about the frustration in society in general and in the serving professions in particular that arise from fiscal downsizing. "First, society can stop telling lies about `doing more with less'. What we get from less is less. We have to stop the lies of rising expectations which can only be fulfilled at inhuman personal cost. Secondly, we have to rediscover the search for value in life, not just profit. An economy which kills a society is diabolical. The absolute tyranny of the bottom line must be challenged. Thirdly, we must accept, especially those of us whose call is to help others, that our own efforts will never suffice, and that only God's grace is sufficient. We must relearn the practice of a faith that presses us to do all we can, and then to hand it all to God, both what we have done and what we cannot do."
"Bad news about the economy has cast a dark shadow over 2009. As Canadians begin to see and feel the impact of stock market turmoil, cutbacks and job losses, people in the church are looking for ways to respond". "The diocese of Toronto has been making efforts to influence government policy in order to reduce poverty. Ontario Premier Dalton McGinty's government made promises to reduce poverty and Bishop Colin Johnson made a presentation to the finance minister during pre-budget consultation to encourage the government to follow through with its plan. .... To further emphasize the point, the diocese took out a full-page ad in the 'Toronto Star' with an open letter to the government and all members of the other parties calling on them to 'do the right thing and fully implement a strong poverty reduction plan, beginning with substantial measures in the Spring 2009 budget". Includes interviews comments from Canon Anthony Jemmott of St. George's Memorial Church in Oshawa, Ontario, and Mary Martha Hale, Director of the diocese of Ottawa's Anglican Social Service Centre 454 in Ottawa, Ontario.