The scrums: CIDA merger, aboriginal skills training

Check out what MPs said in the House foyer after Question Period

Four highlights from this afternoon’s post-Question Period scrums:

1. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on CIDA’s merger into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade: Minister Fantino and I are good friends and our teams work tremendously well together.  We – you’ll recall that Paul Martin separated Trade and Foreign Affairs and there was quite an outcry. We put them back together and it’s been incredibly effective.  You know, we look forward to that. You know, development now will have the full – the full strength of our international presence abroad rather than, you know, just putting a few CIDA people there. The people there will be able to work as a team under the leadership of the ambassadors which are overwhelmingly public servants.

2. Aboriginal Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Greg Rickford on skills training for aboriginal Canadians: Our objective here is to improve the unemployment rates on reserve, and we’ve identified the fact that there’s an especially high unemployment rate with young aboriginals. So we are working on a strategy that’s consistent with what many other provinces do. This will give First Nation communities a chance to make decisions around improving the access of young aboriginal Canadians to personalized job training that has a job in the line of sight with that training.

3. NDP MP Jean Crowder on skills training budget measures for aboriginal Canadians, which she compares to workfare: All of the stats on workfare shows that it doesn’t work. It was tried in Ontario, it was tried in Quebec, it was tried in Alberta. It was tried in most of the United States. The only place that it has some measure of success in the United States is where they actually made sure that there was a living wage attached to the employment skills training, where there was child care. There was no investment in child care in this budget for First Nations communities. It simply doesn’t work. In addition, over half the money that they’ve allocated for this is actually going to go into bureaucracy. So you know where those jobs are going to be created?  Maybe Ottawa. We don’t know.

4. NDP MP Helene Laverdiere on CIDA’s merger: I’m worried in the context of what we’ve seen of international assistance being more and more linked to big Canadian companies, in particular in the extractive sector. We’ve already seen that move, and I think everybody is afraid that this will accentuate that move. And it’s a move that I don’t think respects the official assistance or the Accountability Act, which says clearly that front and centre is the fight against poverty—and taking into account the opinion of the poor. And now we start more with where are the Canadian companies? We have completely reversed the process.