Toronto Haiti Action Committee

Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

Toronto Haiti Action Committee - Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

In the News: Ottawa signals radical shift in foreign-aid policy

by Kim Mackrael, Globe and Mail, Nov 23, 2012

Julian Fantino (photo by Giovanni Aprea)

The federal government is signalling a profound shift in its approach to foreign aid that could see Canada’s international development agency align itself more closely with the private sector and work more explicitly to promote Canada’s interests abroad. International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino will outline his vision for the agency’s future in an address to the Economic Club of Canada Friday morning (Nov 23), his first major speech since taking the job several months ago. The Canadian International Development Agency funds humanitarian aid and long-term development projects intended to help people living in poverty.

Mr. Fantino’s remarks will focus on the role private companies – particularly in the mining sector – can play in helping CIDA achieve its development objectives, part of a controversial change in emphasis for an agency that has historically been careful to differentiate between its work with corporations and non-governmental organizations.

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In the News: Bev Oda leaves behind a poor record in Haiti

by Roger Annis, published on Rabble.ca, July 10, 2012

Recently resigned Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda was a symbol and point person for many of the harmful policies of aid and international relations that mark the Conservative government of Prime Minister Harper.

As Green Party MP Elizabeth May has noted, Oda may have been more of a hand raiser than policy and decision maker. Regardless, during her tenure, the government cut aid to some of the poorest countries in the world in Africa, it tied aid funding ever more closely to the interests and promotion of Canadian business abroad, and it cut funding to respected NGOs such as KAIROS that do not follow its foreign policy line.
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In the News: Canadian aid groups told to keep quiet on policy issues

by Campbell Clark, The Globe and Mail

Aid groups say the federal government is casting a chill over advocacy work that takes positions on policy or political issues – and one claims a senior Conservative aide warned them against such activities.

An official with a mainstream non-governmental aid group said that Keith Fountain, policy director for International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, gave a verbal warning that the organization’s policy positions were under scrutiny: “Be careful about your advocacy.”

The official did not want to be identified out of concern that it might jeopardize funding for the group’s aid projects from the Canadian International Development Agency, or CIDA.

That’s a concern voiced by some other NGO leaders, who said they have received hints the government dislikes their policy advocacy or criticisms of the government policies, but did not want to be identified.

Most aid organizations, from church-based organizations such as Anglican and Mennonite aid agencies to big agencies such as World Vision, Oxfam and CARE, take public positions on some policy issues, and some organize letter-writing campaigns or publish pamphlets.

The aid groups use CIDA money to finance 75 per cent of specific programs, but don’t use it for advocacy.

Some have had veiled warnings about positions that clash with Ottawa’s on issues such as climate change, free trade with Colombia, or the Middle East, said Gerry Barr, president of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, an umbrella group.

“NGOs are being positively invited to remain silent on key questions of public policy,” he said.

Cheryl Curtis, executive director of the Anglican Church’s Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, said government officials have never warned her organization about public-policy positions, but other aid organizations have reported such messages.

“We’ve certainly heard that amongst colleagues,” she said, adding: “There clearly is a conversation that’s brewing at the government level.”

- Read the rest at The Globe and Mail

Canadian aid in Afghanistan and Haiti

A respected international think tank has delivered another in a string of devastating critiques of Canada’s claim to be helping improve the lot of the people of Afghanistan. The Senlis Council says that Canada’s claim to be delivering life-saving medical and other aid there is a lie.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) says it spent $39 million in Kandahr last year and another $100 million in the rest of Afghanistan. Senlis conducted an extensive investigation into these claims. “We were not able to see any substantial impact of CIDA’s work in Kandahar and, as a matter of fact, we saw many instances of the extreme suffering of the Afghan people,” reported Nadine MacDonald, president and lead field researcher of the council at a news conference on August 29.

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