In recent memory, I can think of only three serious, rock-'em-sock-'em demonstrations in Canada. It's not as though Canadians are lacking for things to protest about. It's just that our national preference (outside Quebec, at least) is to avoid conflict whenever possible. And, I suppose, we've probably become too comfortable, perhaps even lazy, about tackling issues that don't have direct or immediate implications for us.
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.
How could any country find itself in a scenario where it suffers the consequences of having been too socialist and too capitalist at the same time? I was listening to a former Greek Prime Minister recently at a global conference and I was struck by the number of times he referred to his country as a "young democracy." The implication, of course, was that it was an immature democracy -- and suddenly it all made sense.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is an outcomes-driven agency. In an era of challenging economic realities around the world, we want to respect both the generosity of Canadian taxpayers who fund Canada's development work and wish to maximize their value by being doggedly zeroed-in on what really matters: improving the lives of the most vulnerable.
It may be that the inherent complexity of international development initiatives -- which occur in dynamic and unpredictable environments, such Haiti's -- precludes a quick or linear path towards development results. Within this framework, failure may actually be a necessary stepping-stone on the path towards success.