by Stephen Thorne, Canadian Press
OTTAWA (CP) - Irish rock star Bono says Prime Minister Paul Martin's inability to further increase foreign aid mystifies him, especially facing an election in a country that clearly favours more foreign aid.
"I'm mystified, actually, by the man," the U2 lead singer told a news conference Friday. "I like him very much, personally.
"I just think that it's a huge opportunity that he's missing out on. This is important to the Canadian people. I think the prime minister will find out if he walks away from the opportunity to (boost foreign aid) he will hear about it in the election. I am absolutely sure of that."
Bono said he was heartened by polls suggesting most Canadians support a boost to foreign aid. He wants Canada to increase foreign contributions to 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product.
That would more than triple the $3 billion Canada currently spends on foreign aid each year.
He has also called on Canada to erase foreign debt and advocate fair trade in a world where a billion people live on less than a dollar a day.
Martin said he'd spoken with Bono on the phone for about 15 minutes on Friday morning.
"His role is to push me forward," Martin said at a first ministers' conference in Kelowna, B.C., before reiterating his oft-stated belief that Canada can't commit to the 0.7 per cent target without a firm plan for reaching that goal.