A Crown corporation that reports to Parliament through the foreign minister, the International Development Research Centre, broadly aligns its positions with Canada's international objectives. IDRC funds various journalism initiatives and development journalism prizes. Canada's aid agency has also doled out tens of millions of dollars on media initiatives over the years.
In seeking out concentrations of expertise in Canada, it is difficult to ignore the extractive sector. Given the (good and bad) history and size of this sector, and the lack of global rivals in the density of expertise (other than Australia), should international assistance not leverage this expertise to achieve a lasting impact in developing countries?
Canada can lead other UNGA members to contribute robustly to the new blueprint for child health past 2015. Since 2010, our country has been a consistent and inspirational champion for child and maternal health, helping to drive down global child mortality rates. Simple, high-impact solutions include vitamins, immunizations, iron supplements, and clean water.
As Liberians and other West Africans bravely struggle to contain Ebola, Canada's foreign engagements are shifting away from they types of initiatives that could help prevent such an epidemic. Working with countries like Liberia to strengthen health systems does not seem to be in Canada's interests any longer.
The Harper government would do well to learn from the approach of the Conservative government in the United Kingdom which, in a difficult economic situation, has made the laudable commitment not to cut its aid budget. Scaling back our development assistance is, frankly, out of step with Canadian values.
If you like your tales of Canadian do-gooding to be humble and cutesy, I imagine you'll be charmed to learn that the primary reason why our air force intervened in Mali this week was because we were already in the neighbourhood. Once you begin to watch the headlines, it becomes harder to ignore the decidedly inelegant possibly that Canadian foreign policy is actually governed by much of the same lazy logic as the rest of Canadian life -- namely, we'll do whatever's cheap, fast, popular, and easy, and -- if time and cost permits -- right.
Since 2004, Canada's foreign aid strategy has experienced a noticeable move along a spectrum from morality to national self-interest. Whether you call it a tipping point or a crisis, the shift in Canada's aid policy poses some fundamental questions of us as Canadians; for instance: why do we give foreign aid?