Ashton on foreign affairs

by Aaron Wherry

Niki Ashton proposes a complete rethink of CIDA.

We would create a new Canadian International Development Agency that makes poverty-fighting Canada’s #1 priority on the world stage. More often than not, mixed motives have muddied the deeds of the Federal government. From Afghanistan to the Americas, they have used foreign aid to advance military, corporate and other interests. Too much aid goes through institutions whose conditions for aid often work against the needs of the poor.

We need a clean break from such failures of the old politics. We need a new CIDA – call it what you will. I’d suggest, Solidarity Canada. As an agency, CIDA has long been a victim of political neglect. But as a full Department of Government with a free-standing Minister, Solidarity Canada would have a clear legislated mandate: poverty reduction in the poorest countries – period.




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Ashton on foreign affairs

  1. “… would have a clear legislated mandate: poverty reduction in the poorest countries – period.”

    Ian Birrell ~ Myths About Foreign Aid: 

    When countries are given more than half their income, they have less incentive to respond to citizens’ needs. Harvard Medical School found local spending on health fell when health-related aid was given in sub-Saharan Africa.

    This means we pay for schools and hospitals, enabling politicians to steal vast sums or fritter away revenues on arms and security (usually sold by the West, with bribes involved). 

    They win elections through bribery or violence rather than improved public services, while innovation is stifled and local entrepreneurs are driven out of business by dumped goods and cheap money. 
    The result is that aid corrodes, rather than builds, civil society, as senior charity officials have admitted to me.

    This was the message from a conference I attended in Pakistan two months ago, where academics from across the political spectrum blamed aid for their nation’s mounting problems, with venal politicians ignoring citizens’ concerns and an over-powerful army grown fat on foreign funding.

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