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D&P takes the Leap into manifesto

By Michael Swan

The Catholic Register


TORONTO (CCN) — Development and Peace has signed onto a political manifesto that reflects in part the teaching of Pope Francis in a call for drastic change in environmental policy.

The Leap Manifesto was written by the prominent Toronto husband-and-wife team of filmmakers and activists Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, son of the prominent NDP family of Stephen and David Lewis and the bestselling author of a book on globalization called This Changes Everything. The manifesto calls for a radical restructuring of Canada’s economy away from reliance on fossil fuels and for stronger legal commitments to honour treaties with indigenous Canadians.

“Climate scientists have told us this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer suffice. So we need to leap,” reads the manifesto, which was introduced in 2015.

A Development and Peace signature on the document was first proposed at the organization’s May 2016 Ontario regional assembly. The Ontario vote in favour of Leap didn’t make it to Development and Peace’s national council until November 2017. At that point Development and Peace staff recommended that national council members individually add their names to the list of 49,486 signatories.

After a long debate, the national council decided it would sign as an organization, said Ontario national council representative Keith Gauntlett. The manifesto was posted to the Development and Peace website on Jan. 31.

“It has nothing to do explicitly or implicitly with saying we support the aims or objectives of other signatories,” Gauntlett told The Register. “We resist all inclination that may surface to engage in anything in the way of partisan activity. We’re not endorsing any political party. We never have. I’m confident in saying we never will.”

Pointing to the signature of former Progressive Conservative Attorney General of Ontario Roy McMurtry, Gauntlett rejects the idea the Leap Manifesto is a product of internal NDP struggles.

It was echoes of Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Sì throughout the manifesto which inspired the movement among Development and Peace members to sign, Gauntlet said.

“Laudato Sì was a seminal document. . . . It’s just a wonderful document,” he said.

A motion to debate the Leap Manifesto at the NDP’s 2018 policy convention was voted down at the party’s 2016 convention in Edmonton.

“These downtown Toronto political dilettantes come to Alberta and track their garbage across our front lawn,” said Alberta labour leader Gil McGowan.

Development and Peace isn’t attacking Albertans working in oil and gas by signing onto Leap, Gauntlett said.

“We’re not trying to demonize certain sectors of Canadian society by signing onto this document,” he said. “Can we at least talk? That’s what we would like to see happen instead of these sometimes quite hateful attacks.”

Development and Peace joins a number of Catholic organizations and individuals who have supported the Leap Manifesto, including Jesuit provincial superior for English Canada Rev. Peter Bisson, his counterpart for French Canada Rev. Jean-Marc Biron, Catholic novelist Yann Martel and philosopher Charles Taylor, the national ecumenical social justice organization KAIROS and the Jesuit Centre for Justice and Faith in Montreal.

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