Friday, April 22, 2005

CBC INTERVIEW WITH BONO ON PAUL MARTIN AND CANADA’S AID POLICY by Anthony Germain-4/22/2005-CBC Studios, Ottawa, Ontario

Listen in Real Audio
Anthony Germain: Bono, welcome to The House.
Bono: Good morning Anthony, how are you?
Anthony Germain: Good thank you. Now as you probably have studied in great
detail this week, Prime Minister Paul Martin delivered a much awaited plan about
Canada’s place in the world, and to the surprise of many people this plan does not
include a promise to reach a foreign aid goal of .07% of GDP. Now what do you think
about that?
Bono: Well I’m bewildered really. I’m disappointed. I’ve not given
up hope. I really I can’t believe that Paul Martin would want to hold up history, or indeed
would hold up history. I think it may not be clear to him just how much is at stake in
terms of the momentum elsewhere in the world on this issue. You know for those of us
and there’s lots of people involved in this process, it’s rare when you get all the ducks in
a row. And to have Germany come through the way they have this year, now this is a
European country with the same kind of fiscal discipline as Paul Martin. They are,
they’re very, and they’re tough customers.
Anthony Germain: Right.
Bono: And they have real trouble, and they’re still trying to integrate
East Germany. They have committed to .7
Anthony Germain: You know and the Brits did it as well, right?
Bono: The Brits have done it, the French have done it. But I
mentioned the Germans because the Canadians are more like them in terms of
particularly Paul Martin is, you know he guards Canada’s wallet very carefully. But I, you
know Canada is a surplus economy and I just, it would be so wrong to lose this
opportunity of this year of having a majority of the players at the G8 in Gleneagles,
Scotland this year. And we were looking for Canada to lead rather than be a laggard.
And I think, I think, I do think if Canadians respond and give their leader permission and
tell him that this is important to Canada. Canada, it looks good on Canada’s stuff, it’s
always, it’s one of the reasons why I’m and others are, I’m a fan. If you don’t follow
through and I’m still a fan, I like it here, I like looking out the window where I am here. I
like, I’m in Vancouver looking at the beautiful bay. I like the beer here. Bottom line, part
of Canada’s authority globally comes from the fact that it looks outside of itself and has
been progressive in these areas in the past.
Anthony Germain: Alright Bono, I know that you’ve been very busy, but I want
to actually let you hear what Paul Martin said during this announcement. It’s a bit long
but I think you’re going to want to hear it. Here it is.
(Tape of Paul Martin’s announcement)
I do not believe that Canada is in a position to make an
unalterable guarantee as to that it will hit that target by the year 2015. And until such
time as I have the full confidence it will do it I’m not prepared to see us do it. I just think,
but I am prepared to say that I believe in the target. I am prepared to see that I want to
see us increase our foreign aid, certainly at the 8% increase level that is occurring. I will
hope that we will be able to and I’m quite confident that we will be able to increase that
substantially. And I want us to work towards the 07 but I’m not prepared to make a
commitment that I’m not unalterably convinced that we will hit with the time period.
Anthony Germain: Now Bono when you were at the Liberal convention that I
saw you at in Toronto you said you were going to be, if I can quote you, a pain in his
ass, unquote. And I wonder when you hear that sort of language about believing in the
target but not wanting to set any date, do you plan on giving him a phone call?
Bono: Yes. I mean not just a phone call. I want to give Canada his
phone number. In fact I might even have it here, hold on a sec. If anyone is listening, I
would call Paul. It’s 613-992-4211. That’s the Prime Minister’s office, that’s the
switchboard. And this is important stuff. It’s not just about me being a nuisance. This is
about Canada’s identity in the world. When I hear him speak like that I hear him speak
as a finance minister, not a Prime Minister. I understand his commitment to these
principles. I like him enormously. I’ve sat with him, I’ve worked with him. I believe him
when he talks. And I know he believes this right now. But it’s, there are moments when
you have to look up from the number. That’s why you want to be in politics. That’s, this
is, what’s upsetting about this is it feels like business as usual.
And what we, the whole point of 2005 is that we are finally
waking up to that it’s an emergency, it’s a crisis. I’m not on, talking to you about my, you
know the latest cause or whatever. This is not a cause. Six and a half thousand Africans
dying every day of a preventible treatable disease like AIDS is not a cause, it’s an
emergency. The same amount dying of malaria, dying of a mosquito bite. And this is
real stuff, there are real lives, real mothers, real children, I met a lot of them. I’ve seen
people queuing up to die in a hospital in (Inaudible). I, you know it’s a shocking thing
people dying two on top of the bed, one underneath. And there’s moments when you
have to look up from the numbers. I implore this Prime Minister. I think he’s a good man
and I think this is the moment to be a real leader. Two months is a long time in politics.
If Canada gives its Prime Minister permission, if Canada makes its voice clear on this,
this is who you are. I think he can still be swayed. Oddly enough his Finance Minister,
Ralph Goodale, has signed up to this as part of the Africa commission, which Tony Blair
has headed up.
Anthony Germain: That’s right, yes.
Bono: So you know it’s just, this is, it’s a time for real leadership. I
understand there’s problems at home. I understand it’s hard to get time to focus on this.
But these arguments that you’ve heard him make in the speech I have also heard made
by Gordon Brown, I have also heard made by the German Finance Minister. I’ve, but
they’ve come through, because they realized this is our moment. You know there’s a
moment in history, this is really it.
Anthony Germain: Right. There’s, there was a moment at the end of your, one
of your visits to Canada and I might be confusing, but after you charmed all of the
journalists and everybody at the Air Canada Centre you were at a news conference and
I remember you saying very vividly and bluntly, someone asked you, don’t you feel like
you’re being exploited or taken advantage of by the Prime Minister? And I think your
answer if I can paraphrase it was, that’s alright so long as it produces results. Do you
think that this is producing the results that you wanted?
Bono: Well to be fair to the Prime Minister and to Canada, and he
has since we first met, doubled the contributions to the global fund on AIDS, TB and
malaria. They have, you are committed to doubling aid on Africa. And when he was
Finance Minister we did great work on debt which we may finish at this year. So there is
progress. All is not lost.... He has a position that not just I but others who know more
than I, believe is untenable. Which is that we cannot predict the income that far down
the line. So we can’t commit to it. This is wrong, this is tithing is really what we’re talking
about. And just because Canada’s in a surplus economy, just because things are doing
well, and they say well it’s going to, therefore we’re going to be giving much more than
we thought, that’s like renegotiating your deal with God downwards because you’ve
done well. There’s a blessing on this country, on Canada. And you know when you have
this kind of prosperity this is not the time to say oh well now we didn’t know it would
amount to this amount of money. This is not the moment to do that. And no, I don’t feel
exploited. I’m annoyed.
Anthony Germain: Yes, that much came through.
Bono: Okay, I’m annoyed. You know I wish I could tell you I don’t
like the fellow and, but I do.
Anthony Germain: Right, I know you do.
Bono: And you know I really do. But it’s a missed opportunity for
him too. You know this is something that he has shown leadership on this. As I say this
is part of you know Canada as a brand, this is part of your appeal. And so whether I’m
annoyed doesn’t, I’m sure doesn’t bother him. And it’s certainly, you know that’s not,
that’s not on his worry list right now.
Anthony Germain: No, you’re quite right there. A last question cause I know
you’ve got to go. You’re in Vancouver, you’re going to be doing other concerts in
Canada. You’d said that your concerts in Canada could be either a celebration of our
commitment to foreign aid or perhaps protest parties depending on what happened.
What’s your gut feeling about what these concerts are going to be like? Will they be
protests or celebrations?
Bono: Yes, I said party or protest. Look, I’m in a rock and roll band,
we’re going to kick up a storm either way. Deep down I actually really believe that
Canada is going to, and I believe it’s going to make their Prime Minister come around to
this. But by the way, I think he has it in his heart, I really do. I think he, it’s his head is
interfering with me. He has to look up from the numbers and I think if he spends more
time on it, if people go around and tell him to spend more time on it, this is a man who
will do the right thing and I believe, I believe there will be great, great, great events. And
it’s the time, what else are we going to be remembered for. I mean that’s the thing. Our
generation wants something to be remembered for. We’ve, other eras have pulled back
apartheid and the Iron Curtain or you know this is our moment. We want, it’s a
grandiose thought you know to make poverty history.
Anthony Germain: You know once some of the opposition leaders here what
you’ve had to say they might be calling you.
Bono: Well you know I want to, you know they can put their money
where their mouth is too. And it’s easy to say these things from the benches.
Anthony Germain: True.
Bono: Paul Martin is sitting, he’s at that place of power. And but I
don’t want people to think this is airy fairy or you know misty-eyed Irish nonsense. It is
possible, we have the know how, the technology, we have the resources to literally
halve global poverty by 2015. It’s a Canadian idea, the Pearson commitment. Lets go
for it, let’s just, lets be remembered for something other than the internet which is
wonderful. You know the war against terror. These are the things that will define our
Anthony Germain: It’s amazing isn’t it that Paul Martin’s father was actually in
the cabinet, the Pearson cabinet you mentioned when this .7 commitment was made.
Bono: Yes, yes. No, I know that.
Anthony Germain: It takes a while.
Bono: I know it’s not easy, I know these are real numbers. I know
it’s difficult. He has to decide what to spend this money, not, you know not on. So let’s
tell him, let’s tell him how important this is to Canada. You know you’re a rich diverse
culture. You’re a giant country but you do not behave like an island. And that’s the
attraction for all of us that you’re seen for your size and your diversity, to know what’s
going on in the rest of the world. This is no time to just turn inward. I know there’s
problems here at home. But don’t lose, don’t lose your focus Prime Minister on how
history will remember this moment.
Anthony Germain: Well Bono it’s been a real pleasure. Welcome to Canada.
Have a great concert in Vancouver. Thank you very much.
Bono: Come and see us.
Anthony Germain: It’s a bit of a hike but I’d love to.
Bono: Okay. We’re going to be near you at some point in the next
Anthony Germain: November. I’ll see you in Ottawa.
Bono: Thanks.
Anthony Germain: Alright, bye now.
Bono: Bye bye Anthony. Bye.


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