Embassy, a foreign policy newsweekly and division of The Hill Times, published a report on Canada’s current place in foreign development yesterday. This report consisted of articles written by journalists and professors on what Canada has done, might do in light of the Tory win this Tuesday, and probably should do.
Stephen Brown (page 17), professor of political science at the University of Ottawa, insisted Canada provide more aid to developing countries. We have not, he points out, lived up to our promise to devote 0.7 per cent of the gross national product (GNP) to foreign aid – not by a long-shot if we only look at Stephen Harper’s 0.28 per cent allotment last year. He urges us not to use the financial crisis as an excuse to cut funding because developing countries will be hurt by it as well, and this, of all times, is not when we should be frugal. He also criticizes the Harper government for endorsing the concept of “aid effectiveness”. This is the practice of only spending money on countries, and on specific sectors of society, that will benefit the most. Now, this sounds like a perfectly fine thing: all things being equal, efficiency should be sought. But, in practice, “the policy implies focusing on middle-income countries that already have the capacity to transform outside financing into economic growth. However, the poorest countries often require assistance to create a growth-friendly environment.” It is the poorest countries, the ones that lack the kind of infrastructure and social institutions to benefit most effectively from aid, that happen to need it the most.
Nipa Banerjee (page 18), professor of international development at the University of Ottawa, wrote about the primacy of aid effectiveness, contra Stephen Brown.
Jeff Davis (page 19) discusses the effect the financial crisis will have on the developing world, noting that foreign direct investment will drop; developing world exporters will have fewer buyers; and developing countries that subsist on the money from luxury goods exports will suffer.
Hugh Segal (page 20), a conservative senator, wrote about making the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) less mired in bureaucracy and, by dispersing it from its central location, Hull, make it more responsive to the realities of/in the developing countries it’s supposed to assist. As such, he supports Bill C-293 because it “calls for a new consultative relationship between CIDA and our NGOs, many of whom are better situated in aid recipient countries than CIDA itself.”
Lee Berthiaume (also page 20) discusses the role and future of democracy-promotion, ie. helping developing countries become more democratic. He writes of the Tory proposal to create a separate agency for democracy-promotion, and the complexities involved in this task.
Read the full report to fill my summaries out. It might be helpful considering that foreign policy was an issue almost nobody discussed this past election.