In the 2015 federal budget, the Canadian government announced its intention to create a $300-million initiative to encourage private investment, job creation and growth that will fight extreme poverty in developing countries. Canada is the last G7 country to create a public arm to support private investment in development. Some of our counterparts have been in this business for over 50 years, doing good and making money at the same time.This initiative looks even tardier when one considers that successive Canadian governments since the early Trudeau era have bandied about the idea of creating a public entity to catalyze more private capital for development.
Canada is the only G7 country that doesn't have a publicly-owned, profit-driven development finance institution (DFI) that can help private business invest in jobs, growth and markets in low-income countries. We're not just missing an opportunity to raise people out of poverty: we're also missing a chance to build Canadian business while earning returns for Canada's stretched taxpayers.
This week is International Development Week. This year's theme is "We are Making a Difference." Canada should be making a difference -- a real, sustainable difference. Unfortunately, under the Conservative government, we are going in the wrong direction.
The recent troubles in the south that sprung up only a month ago, and the instability that has resulted, has pressed that African region to the precipice. But just this week, the Harper government, through its Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), has recommended, "that Canada consider downgrading its development program (in Sudan), or exiting entirely."
When Parliament reconvenes on October 16, all eyes will be on Stephen Harper's "new" agenda as articulated in the Speech from the Throne. What role will international development play in this speech -- and will it matter? I believe that the most important decisions on the international development agenda continue to be made quietly and behind closed doors, with no public scrutiny.
This coming Saturday, the Ugandan Canadian community is organizing a public protest to highlight the shortcomings of a new government policy in Uganda. Henry Luyombya and Morris Komakech reflect with me why they believe Canada and Canadians should be alarmed and concerned about what is happening in their native land.
Canadians have witnessed the emaciation of Canada's overseas development budget since Harper won his majority in 2011. Most core Conservative voters would be appalled at any increase, particularly in iffy economic times. So when it comes to foreign aid, Stephen Harper is a clever politician.
When I first heard about the dismantling of the Canadian International Development Agency in the government's recent budget, I was rather dismayed. Nonetheless, upon delving into the issue further, it became clear that my initial reaction was quite misguided. International aid from Canada is not coming to an end; the budget has merely initiated the merging of CIDA with the Department of Foreign Affairs. The aim is not to slash aid, but rather to have a more synergized approach to its deliverance in developing countries. The merger of CIDA with DFAIT ensures the money our government spends internationally will be more focused, effective and better reflect and preserve the national interests of Canada.
In yesterday's budget the government announced that Canada's International Development Agency (CIDA) will be merged within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). CIDA's mandate of poverty reduction is distinct from the mandate of DFAIT, which is to promote Canada's interests abroad. The merger of these departments must be done without watering down CIDA's mandate.
As Canada is reducing its visibility in the world, the role that Canadians are playing in the world has not diminished one bit. Amrita Kumar-Ratta is one Canadian who has traveled in places such as India and Kenya to contribute to making the world a better place. She reflects on her activism here at home and abroad and looks ahead on the role she wants to play in the world.