Child poverty — no quick fix

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British Columbia’s government should devote more time to child poverty, Archbishop David Crawley said after a meeting with Premier Glen Clark Feb. 23 that yielded no ready solutions.

That was the view of many of 40 faith community leaders who joined Mr. Clark for the second of his meetings to discuss B.C.’s problems, the archbishop said.

“Everyone realizes it’s a very complex problem,” he said of child poverty, the main subject of the meeting. But, he added, “poverty was not part of God’s original creation.”

In a Vancouver Sun interview published the morning of the gathering, the premier took to task religious leaders who seemed less vocal on the subject of poverty than gambling.

Jeremy Bell, pastor of Kit-silano Christian Community Church, said Mr. Clark was absolutely right. “We have been too selective in the issues we raise and fight for,” he said.

Mr. Bell, who helped set the agenda, said the faith community was one of the few groups on which government could down-load programs dealing with family concerns.

Bill Chu, of Chinese Christians in Action, said the province needs “a new vision of hope and the spiritual leaders are willing to go on this journey with the premier to explore possibilities and opportunities.”

Television broadcaster Bernice Gerard said high stakes gambling and video lottery terminals (VLTs) hurt the poor. Citing $800 million Alberta had reaped in gambling profits, she asked about the premier’s interest in them.

Mr. Clark responded that he was not enthusiastic about the idea and was proud that B.C. was the only province without VLTs.

Archbishop David Crawley was the keynote speaker at the meeting and, with Catholic Archbishop Adam Exner of Vancouver, expressed concern that the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor.

– with files from Anne Eapen, wire services.

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