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Tenth Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
July 21 - 24, 2005
Winnipeg, Manitoba

In Mission for Others

REPORT OF THE LUTHERAN OFFICE
FOR PUBLIC POLICY (LOPP)

The LOPP works through Kairos (www.kairoscanada.org), the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) (www.ccc-cee.org), Project Ploughshares (www.ploughshares.org), and the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (www.ccjc.ca). Kairos has five program committees (Human Rights, Aboriginal Rights, Education and Animation, Global Economic Justice, and Social Development). The ELCIC supports the work of the CCC’s Commission for Justice and Peace, the Ecumenical Health Care Network and the Biotechnology Taskforce. In addition to the director there are a number of volunteers that serve as ELCIC representatives on these bodies. My sincere thanks to Roseanne Thede (Alberta), Carl Rausch (Quebec), Martin Appavoo (Ontario), Lowell Nussey (Ontario), Peter Kuhnert (Ontario), Miia Suokonautio (Ontario), Pam Radunsky (Ontario), Tina Klassen (BC), Phil Heinze (Ontario) and Richard Crossman (Ontario) for their invaluable support of our work.

The following are some of the key areas of work since our last report in 2003:

Engaging the LWF Communion

  • Prepared a ELCIC Response to the LWF Message and Commitments for the NCC; and
  • Participated in the North American Regional Consultation on the meaning of Communion.

Global Economic Justice

  • Developed What Does God Require of Us, A Declaration on Just Trade with church representatives from Canada, the United States, and Mexico and continue to monitor the development of trade agreements through Mesa, a tri-national monitoring group;
  • The Jubilee debt work continues with a current emphasis on making the links between the HIV/AIDS pandemic and debt which make cancellation ever more urgent and necessary;
  • Facilitated a delegation in which 7 church leaders from across the country including ELCIC National Bishop Raymond Schultz went to Mexico to examine the human rights impacts of NAFTA building on the work of previous church delegations and subsequently met with Canadian parliamentarians;
  • Continued focused advocacy work on having Chapter 11 removed from NAFTA and not replicated in any trade and investment agreements that Canada signs; and
  • Undertook analysis, research on trade and agriculture alternatives and the role that agriculture is playing in global and regional trade talks.

Project Ploughshares Work on Peace and Disarmament

  • Prepared analysis and briefings on Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), and assisted the Canadian Council of Churches with letters from Canadian churches to the prime minister urging him to reject Canada’s involvement in the BMD system;
  • Coordinated an international church leaders delegation to key non-nuclear NATO states to urge changes in NATO's military doctrine to eliminate the declared reliance on nuclear weapons;
  • Promoting a broadened approach to the rules-based management of space–prohibiting space combat and promoting space as a global commons to be used for peaceful purposes;
  • Assisting Canadian churches and the World Council of Churches in exploring the theological, ethical, and operational dimension of intervention to protect vulnerable people in situations of extreme danger;
  • With partner organization, Africa Peace Forum (Nairobi, Kenya) managing projects on small arms, intervention, and support for the Sudan peace process;
  • Promoting an international convention (now called the Arms Trade Treaty or ATT) to regulate the transfer of weapons between countries; and
  • Produced a paper, Reshaping the Security Envelope: Defense Policy in a Human Security Context, as part of a focused program on security policy issues to articulate an approach that seeks to minimize the resort to use force and violence in global affairs.

Support for Canada’s Public Health Care System

  • Developed Facts Sheets on Health care Issues (see www.ccc-cce.ca);
  • Organized and Supported the Health Covenant Petition Campaign; and
  • Supported the Organization of Calgary Health Care Conference.

Aboriginal Rights

  • Ongoing public education on the importance of the draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as lobbying to try and persuade Canada to use its international influence to ensure the declaration is adopted by the UN. Currently, Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups are supporting Canada's resolution to extend the mandate of the Working Group on the Draft Declaration for at least two years to give enough time for the work on the text to be completed. This initiative has involved the creation of an ad hoc coalition of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups, including the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Grand Council of the Crees, the Native Women's Assoc. of Canada, the Metis National Council, Amnesty International, Rights & Democracy, and the Quakers;
  • KAIROS continues to work with Aboriginal organizations on Human Rights education. In February KAIROS jointly organized a workshop at Dalhousie University in Halifax with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs (APC), while in March, KAIROS jointly hosted a symposium on the Human Rights of Aboriginal Peoples with the APC and St. Thomas University, in Fredericton;
  • KAIROS is also looking to once again collaborate with Aboriginal organizations in the preparation and presentation of shadow reports to the UN on the occasion of the UN's review of Canada's compliance to various human rights conventions. Specifically, three reviews we are planning for include those relating to the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
  • Domestically, KAIROS continues to monitor federal legislation that pertains to Aboriginal Peoples. KAIROS is working with the Anglican Church of Canada to develop a popular education tool on the Indian Act. We are also working with the Mennonite Central Committee to develop an educational tool that uses the First Nations Governance Act experience to help people understand how legislation is created in Canada. Both these tools will complement the Blanket Exercise, which continues to be used very successfully to raise awareness and understanding of the history of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples in Canada;
  • Continue to build relationships with federal members of parliament from all parties in an attempt to encourage changes in federal Aboriginal legislation, in particular the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy, which still requires the extinguishment of Aboriginal title and rights as a condition of negotiating a land rights agreement; and
  • Continue to work closely with the Native Women's Association of Canada on the Sisters in Spirit campaign, which came very close to realizing part of its goal in February, before the federal government reneged on its promise to contribute 5 million dollars towards the campaign.

Sustaining Creation through Ecological Justice

  • Celebrated the Kyoto Protocol coming into force as international law on February 16, 2005—after years of advocacy, maintaining public pressure, education and hard work the ecumenical community can take pride with all Canadians at seeing this come to pass;
  • Entered into a Partnership with Natural Resources Canada to promote Energy Efficiency for Church Buildings as a way of demonstrating our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in faith communities; and
  • Addressed Water issues from an ecological, ethical, theological and spiritual perspective as a contribution to the upcoming 2005–06 joint KAIROS / Development and Peace Campaign on Water.

Social Policy

  • The Educational resource, Welcoming Uprooted People Post 9-11, was used in workshops across the country to explore root causes of displacement, the difficulties refugees face, and strategies to support refugees and immigrants. The KAIROS network sent over 1,000 letters to the minister of immigration calling for the creation of an appeal process for refugee determination as provided for in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;
  • Responded to the ever-tightening security agenda by standing up for the rights of refugees and protecting the civil liberties of Canadian citizens;
  • Supported calls for a long-term funding commitment and public (not private) delivery of the child care services; and
  • Organized $200,000 in PLURA grants to low income people’s projects.

Biotechnology

  • Preparation for our International Conversation on" Genes, Patenting and the Global View" to be held in the spring of 2007. There will be an international planning committee to be held in spring 2006. The conference is expected to be hosted in Canada and would include 20-25 people who will be pursued in partnership with the WCC, UNESCO and the NCC-USA.
  • The hosting of a conference earlier this year at Emmanuel College of the Toronto School of Theology. This was a conference on Biotech Patenting and Intellectual Proper Rights which was co-sponsored by UNESCO and persons from science, government, and theology.
  • The development of a set of Ethical Guidelines which could be used by various churches, groups, and persons in helping to discern a more insightful Christian perspective on Biotech activities/research in the future. It is expected that a final draft of such guidelines will be completed by the fall of 2005. I am a central facilitator of this project which it is hoped will finally be vetted through the governing board of the CCC this fall.

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Canadian churches, coordinated by KAIROS’ Corporate Social Responsibility program, spoke out at Imperial Oil’s Annual General Meeting, calling on the company to recognize the negative impacts of climate change; and
  • Sponsored a workshop on Ethical Investing for the Religious Sector which explored the theological foundation for our work, fiduciary issues for pension funds, screened investments, proxy voting guidelines, and shareholder engagement on social and environmental issues.

Advocating for Human Rights

  • Presented briefs on Colombia, Sudan, East Timor and Sri Lanka at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade annual human rights consultation. We also gave oral statements on the theme of mass exoduses and the situations in Colombia and Iraq (the latter a joint statement with other church-based organizations) to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva; and
  • Participated in a special ecumenical meeting convened by the World Council of Churches and the Foundation of Social Assistance of the Protestant Churches of Chile to mark our 30 years of ecumenical commitment to human rights and dignity in Chile and to address future human rights challenges.

Education and Animation

  • Network Development: Providing support for over 100 local ecumenical committees plus interested denominational committees and individuals. Annual fall regional gatherings for skills building, introducing educational/action resources, nurturing community and networking;
  • Resources: Print and electronic resources developed for participatory workshops, worship resources and background info on current KAIROS initiatives. Excellent website including a listing of local/regional events;
  • On December 10, International Human Rights Day, KAIROS launched its current campaign, “Cultivating Just Peace”. The campaign will call on our government to build true security and just peace by protecting human rights, nurturing social security, controlling arms exports, cancelling debts and increasing overseas aid;
  • Action Initiatives: Mass education and action initiatives for 2004–2005 focused on "Welcoming the Stranger—Post 9-11". Actions included many local workshops, letters and visits to MP's, and a petition with over 11,000 signatures calling on the federal government to immediately implement the Refugee Appeal Division approved by Parliament in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (2002);
  • To check out the dates for fall regional meetings in your part of the country and resources that are available see www.kairoscanada.org.

Respectively Submitted:

David Pfrimmer
Office of Public Policy

In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
© Copyright 2007 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada