Development and Peace has always aspired to be a democratic movement attentive to the voice of its members. These members are the living witness of our Catholic faith, put in the service of International Development.
This year, the voice of our members called for a temporary departure from our 5-year theme of ecological justice. The reason? Their growing concerns over the significant shift taking place in Canada's international development policies. This shift includes further cuts to Canada's contributions to the fight against global poverty - cuts that now place us 14th out of 23 donor countries of the OECD. This shift is one that reflects the ideological belief that we can best help the poor by advancing our own commercial interests in their countries, including resource extraction. Once we do this, we are told, the wealth will trickle down to them. This shift is contrary to 45 years of work done by Development and Peace. Much of this work has been in partnership with various Canadian governments, both PC and liberal. Our approach is one where we see the poor as subjects and not objects of development. Our approach is also an ideological one – the idea of the Gospel. In the Gospel we find the radical idea that the perspective of the poor matters. Our approach requires that the voices of the most marginalized and oppressed be the loudest in our ears as we determine our aid policies as a country. This is something we as Catholics refer to as the preferential option for the poor.
Choosing the right course of action for this modified campaign has been difficult. How can we best express our concerns without being dismissed by the government? There is no shortage of different opinions.
Our discussion guide (available on the campaign materials page) invites people to gather in small groups - to See what is happening, to Judge what we see in light of our faith, and then as a group to discern how to Act. Whether it’s writing a letter or meeting with your MP (use the checklist from the campaign materials page to prepare), taking action as small groups of citizens to raise our concerns is an empowering act. It is an empowering act, so long as we still believe in the potential of democracy to create change. Not one by one, but group by group, we can seek a counter-shift against an international aid that is inadequate in responding to the needs of humanity.
As you read this, such gatherings are already taking place across the country.
Catholics and like-minded friends are gathering in Church halls and basements, schools and community centres. With the guidance of our coast to coast animation team and trained member leaders, they are coming together and discerning ways to raise their voices and say: “International Development: Do It Justice! More than Ever!”
Contact your local animator and find out how you can get involved today!