Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 7, 2002
Catholic groups wary of Throne Speech promises
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Catholic Church officials are buoyed by promises in the Speech from the Throne to help poor families, double foreign aid spending and sign the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change but note that such commitments have been made before.
"The Speech from the Throne seemed to me like those sticky notes we leave on the refrigerator," said Joe Gunn, social affairs director for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"It served as a welcome reminder of things that we have already committed to do - like end child poverty, devote serious thought to health care reform and funding to back it up, design a regulated and licensed child care program (and) address the affordable housing crisis," he told CCN Oct. 1.
But it was "a worrisome reminder that we need to marshal the resources of time, interest and money to get the job done without delay," Gunn added.
"While this speech was overwhelmingly positive in terms of setting a necessary agenda, I was struck by the troublesome thought that so many of these promises, like the commitment to double overseas development assistance, especially to Africa, are not new, but rather unfulfilled vows from the past."
The Speech from the Throne was read by Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson at a ceremony in the Senate chamber Sept. 30.
Robert Letendre, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, said he was pleased the government will take further measures to alleviate child poverty and that it plans to increase foreign aid spending. "We had been asking for that for many years," he said.
The Catholic bishops of Canada have long advocated increased spending on foreign aid.
Letendre also said he believes the government will follow through on its Throne Speech commitment to boost foreign aid spending by eight per cent a year. "It seems to be a firm commitment," he said, adding that the Canadian public seems to want to share more of its riches with the poor.
"We're such a rich society and people are ready to share," he said. "There is this feeling that instead of having our fourth television at home we can share. . . . The government can give more to those people who are so poor in Third World countries."