Canadian policy in Africa can be summed up in nine words: Do what is good for Canadian-owned mining companies. Despite rhetoric about aid to the poorest people in the world, the Harper Conservatives have worked assiduously to ensure that Canadian corporations profit from Africa's vast mineral resources.
The country is known for its endemic corruption, its history of military coups, sectarian violence and fraudulent ''419'' letter schemes. More recently, the world has watched in horror as the country battled, mostly unsuccessfully, the brutal jihadist group Boko Haram in a five year conflict that is blamed for the death of 36,000 people, with 16,000 in the last year alone. Despite these challenges, rather most probably because of them, in an election applauded around the world as a victory not only for Nigeria, but for all of Africa, the continent's most populous country, 160 million strong, ejected their incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan. His People's Democratic Party or PDP had ruled the country since 1999.
Far from spearheading democratic governance, the new breed have built ruthless totalitarian regimes to a varying degree. Of the quartet Eritrea is the most closed and most repressive, routinely denying its people access to the outside world. Since independence from Ethiopia in 1993 Eritrea has been ruled by as a one-party state headed by Afewerki, who tolerates no opposition.
It is time we all joined the UN chief's plea, and once again rallied to #bringbackourgirls from a terrorist organization that knows no bounds to its brutality. Join me as I call on Canada to work with the international community in addressing the ongoing violence threatening innocent women and children in Nigeria.
Today, Ebola continues to hit hardest in Sierra Leone, which reported 337 new cases in the last week of December, more than double those in Guinea and Liberia combined. In Sierra Leone, which already had the world's highest maternal mortality ratio and the fourth highest infant mortality rate, the impact of Ebola on children is huge and under-reported; and orphans remain the forgotten victims of the crisis.
Obama is rightly emphasizing the reality that electricity is an input into nearly every good and service in households, villages, towns and national economies. A region in which 600 million out of 960 million are without power cannot possibly ignite, expand or sustain economic growth and development.
On close examination, however, it becomes evident that not only is Canada's approach to development assistance outdated, it is outright embarrassing and risks ruining Canada's international reputation. I often use the term "lost in transition" to describe aid that barely gets to its intended beneficiaries, a concept that is appropriate for Canada's case. Even when poorly conceived and executed aid gets to the recipient, it often does more harm than good.
Massive military egos, political conniving, and Western dilly-dallying have resulted in a potent brew. And now has come famine on a vast scale, in what the United Nations has described as perhaps the worst humanitarian disaster of this recent era. Two million people are now on the move, displaced by conflict and lack of resources.
Sub-Saharan Africa did not have a particularly good year. There were internal conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic. Nigeria's north and Kenya experienced considerable insecurity that led to loss of lives. But great things happened in Sub-Saharan Africa -- one new and two ongoing efforts -- a combination of which hold tremendous potential to empower and improve lives.
During this holiday season, Canadians come together to care for one another -- we find ways to support our local communities. As we get ready to celebrate the beginning of 2015, I would like to share with you my wishes for the children who are suffering through the world's worst humanitarian crises.
Stanley Kutcher was stumped. The psychiatry professor from Halifax's Dalhousie University was in Malawi to develop a mental health program for rural communities when he learned from the locals that there was no word in Chichewa for depression. How do you diagnose and treat an illness that doesn't linguistically exist?
Today's conflicts are smaller in scale than the world wars on which we normally focus come Remembrance Day. But tragically, so are many of the soldiers. There are some 250,000 child soldiers in the world today, mostly in Africa. Children the age of my school-aged sons are shoved headlong into a hell that's unimaginable for most adults, let alone a child.
The international community was slow to respond to the African ebola outbreak. One reason was a lack of early warning. It comes down to something population health scientists call "surveillance", a word that alarms the lay public, since it conjures images of Big Brother observing our intimate activities. Surveillance systems can be simple or complex. They always cost money. But if they help to identify an outbreak, and thus help to prevent an epidemic, then they save much more money. But poor governments are unlikely to invest in prevention systems when there are immediate health crises that need resources right now: HIV/AIDS, Malaria, maternal and reproductive health issues, etc.
Seventy per cent of illegal ivory ends up in China -- the world's largest ivory consumer, as the insatiable demand for the "white gold" is surging with the growing middle class populous. The root cause of this insane craving for ivory is ignorance. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), more than 70 per cent of Chinese don't realize that elephants are being killed for their ivory.
Will the government show leadership in responding to this deadly outbreak and offer help needed to contain and control it, including much needed field hospitals and other equipment? And will the Government consider deploying more health care specialists and armed forces personnel in collaboration with the U.S. to face the outbreak?
Africa's 600 million hectares of uncultivated land -- more than half the global total -- adds up to a recipe for a better food future. Agricultural innovation, education, and the resulting empowerment of women and girls promises to make the coming population boom a turning point toward truly sustainable development.
There are a group of people often overlooked in the fight against climate change and they can be one of our greatest allies as we figure out how to limit the damage from extreme weather, rising seas and threats to food security. They are the millions of indigenous people who live in the world's remaining forests. Often overlooked, ignored, marginalized and attacked, they stand at the heart of a global solution on climate change that all of us, whether we live in big cities or remote villages, can benefit from.