- Steven Hoffman highlights the Cons' utter refusal to recognize that foreign aid - as defined by global treaties - doesn't mean the same thing as corporate giveaways:
Reports and commentary on Canada’s new foreign aid policy reveal the extent to which international development means different things to different people. Some see it as public charity, others as the way a country projects its values to the world. Still others, including International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino, argue that it’s “a part of Canadian foreign policy” and the fulfilment of “a duty and a responsibility to ensure that Canadian interests are promoted.”- Which means Tim Harper may only be understating matters in arguing that the Cons are gutting Canadian foreign policy alone, rather than trying to attack basic international principles.
These are all valid perspectives – international development can be any one or all of these things combined. But, unfortunately, official development assistance, to which we have made international commitments, can’t. This system, in effect since 1969, defines aid as official financial flows that are concessional in character and intended to promote the development and well-being of developing countries. Excluded are grants intended to advance donor countries’ interests, including admirable objectives such as economic growth or security from terrorism. Grants to private for-profit companies are also excluded because, by law, they primarily serve commercial objectives.
Donor countries such as Canada can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, despite skill or best intentions. Our government’s new foreign aid focus on private-sector partnerships and self-interest – which, in Mr. Fantino’s words, is for “Canadian values, Canadian business, the Canadian economy, benefits for Canada” – deserves reconsideration. It unwittingly represents a dramatic departure from the established global development system and brings Canada out of sync with the rest of the world.
- pogge highlights a few more sad examples of the Cons' government by ill-fated improvisation, while Michael den Tandt reports on the most glaring example as the F-35 debacle is apparently wound down. And the Cons are still trying to cover up everything they do - with the latest example being their stonewalling against Kevin Page's request to see shipbuilding contracts in order to be able to assess them.
- But while Bob Hepburn may be right in his assessment of MPs when it comes to most of the Cons as being enemies of democracy, we should be careful not to tar all of our elected representatives with the same brush. After all, an unduly sweeping, "they all do it" message (in contrast to recognition where MPs represent their constituents properly) will only make it easier for the worst offenders to avoid answering for their wrongs.