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Bono Promises to Kick PM's Posterior

The Globe and Mail, July 09, 2005

Campbell Clark

Prime Minister Paul Martin's rock-star connections came back to haunt him when U2's Bono promised to kick his butt for failing to deliver a more ambitious commitment to African aid.

Although the U2 front man sang the current Prime Minister's praises when he appeared at the 2003 Liberal leadership convention, he warned that if Mr. Martin didn't live up to his rhetoric, he would come back and be a pain the butt.

Yesterday, he said that he is taking aim at the prime ministerial posterior. The good news is that Bono thinks it's a nice butt, or so he says.

Mr. Martin has refused to commit Canada to donating 0.7 percent of its gross domestic product by 2015 -- the United Nations target. And while Canada lags behind the average aid budget of wealthy countries, Mr. Martin refused to bend in the run-up to the summit, sticking to his budget commitment to increase aid from about $3 billion now to about $5 billion in 2010.

"No. I'm not satisfied. I'm going to kick his butt," Bono said. "As it happens it's a very nice butt, as prime ministers go."

He apparently meant to say he liked Mr. Martin, not assess his backside, and after his answer, he muttered to aid campaigner Kumi Naidoo,

"I didn't really say that about his butt, did I?"

Bono did have tough words about Mr. Martin's performance on aid, but warm words for the man, and a measure of understanding.

"Look, he's a very measured man, he's a very careful man. And he wasn't going to commit to something he couldn't see a critical path towards. I think he made a mistake, though. Because Canada had leadership in this area, and it led on debt," he said.

"So Canada has lost its chance to lead."

He said that, as finance minister, Mr. Martin played an important role in working on debt relief for African countries, and he wished he would do more on aid.

"But I think he's the kind of fellow who will follow through in his own time. So that's my disappointment. Because I actually like him very much."

Mr. Martin made no comment about his own rear end, but insisted that he was doing the right thing on aid, and that Bono was playing his role by pushing for more.

"My job is to make sure that we achieve the 0.7, and I'm going to do that. And his job is to push me to do it."

He said Canada will meet its targets, making an oblique reference to conditions set by other countries, which tie the target of 0.7 percent of GDP to the levying of a new tax.

"We have said we are going to double our aid to Africa," Mr. Martin said.

"There are no conditions on that. There are no monies that have to be raised. It is budgeted and it is part of our ongoing cash projections. And then having achieved that, we are going to go beyond it.

"I'm just going to make darn sure that when somebody decides he's going to kick my butt, that I can say to him, 'Hey, we're achieving our targets.' "

The two shared a beer last night at the Gleneagles Hotel just before Mr. Martin's departure, aides said.

© Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc., 2005.



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