Bono visits Parliament Hill, thanks Canadians for foreign aid contributions
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, June 15, 2015 6:59AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 15, 2015 9:36PM EDT
U2 frontman Bono visited Parliament Hill on Monday, thanking Canadians for their contributions to global development and asking politicians to do more.
“I actually want to thank Canada for its generosity, particularly to vulnerable women and children,” the rock star told reporters. “It’s amazing work that you’re doing,”
“Of course, we’d like you to do more,” he added. “If you ask any leader, I’m the person who is always asking for more. But I think it’s important right now to say thank you for what you’re doing.”
Bono was expected to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper Monday afternoon after sitting down earlier in the day with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who both shared photos of their meetings on social media.
Harper previously committed $3.5 billion of federal funding over five years toward the cause of bettering maternal and child health in the developing world – considered his signature aid initiative.
When asked what more the Prime Minister might do, Bono said he’s “sure he’ll figure it out.”
“The world needs more Canadas,” he added. “What you’ve achieved here in your country, this nation of nations is really progressive, really brilliant.”
The meeting between Bono and Harper comes after several past attempts for a face-to-face by the Irish musician. In 2007, Harper refused to make time for Bono at a G8 summit, saying “meeting my celebrities isn’t my shtick.”
Bono had met with former prime minister Paul Martin in 2004, when the two discussed foreign aid priorities of the day, which then included efforts to fight HIV-AIDS.
Before his meetings with the party leaders and Prime Minister, Bono met with Canadian development experts, including President of World Vision Canada Michael Messenger.
Messenger told CTV Power Play the singer was looking to hear about “key issues he could raise when he meets with the party leaders,” and had asked “if Canada was still seen as a leader and wanted to be a leader.”
Messenger said he told Bono he believes Canadians do want to be seen as leaders in helping to fight poverty in the developing world.
The child and maternal health initiative has saved 400,000 babies in the past two years, Messenger said, but added more resources are needed.
Canada is “in the middle of the pack” when it comes to poverty reduction, he said, noting he is calling on all parties “to renew Canada’s commitment.”
Canada’s spending on foreign aid as a share of our GDP fell to 0.24 per cent in 2014, from 0.27 per cent in 2013, according to an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report released in April.
Among the 28 countries measured by the OECD, the average 2014 contribution was 0.29 per cent of GDP, well short of the 0.7 per cent target urged by the United Nations.
NDP development critic Helene Laverdiere said Monday that the government has allowed hundreds of millions in budgeted foreign aid money to go unspent, calling the lapsed funding “cuts through the back door.”
With files from The Canadian Press