Evidence of meeting #16 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was development.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Mr. Van Loan.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

I'm feeling as if it were Groundhog Day. We keep having this discussion every couple of months.

There was a clear sense that we were going to do a study on democracy promotion and democratic development. It was going to be focused. We've had this debate again and again. It's been settled. The witnesses are lined up. The briefing books reflect all that. We've agreed to it several times as a committee, as a steering committee, and I can't understand why we keep looking at this new direction every time.

If we want to study something in a focused way, we have to have some kind of focus. We're already looking at something that's going to extend well into 2007 before we get progress, based on the other work that's going to be in front of this committee, and if we expand it to a study of everything, there's not going to be much left at all.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you, Mr. Van Loan.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

I would also point out that the Senate committee is dealing with exactly what Mr. Martin is talking about right now.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

One other point to that is that as we look through the list of witnesses and those places we will visit in some of the Scandinavian countries, there are certainly those there whose expertise is in how they disperse humanitarian aid, so that is going to fit into it.

But I take Van Loan's point as well. We have discussed at great length the main focus, the main direction the committee is going in. We decided it would be two-faceted, that we'd have the spring study and the fall study, and now we're in the fall. There will be an opportunity to study it, but I think it has been very well decided a long time ago,a number of times, that the main focus should be democratic development.

Madame Barbot.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Concerning Mr. O'Connor's notice, I too think that we should exert some pressure to obtain the viewpoint of the minister whose role is particularly important with regard to Afghanistan. I don't think we should make this a part of our committee work, but rather, we should insist that he come and meet with us.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

All right.

Go ahead, Madame Bourgeois.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Chairman, according to what I read in the briefing book which we were given concerning official development assistance, democracy and good governance this is indeed directly linked to the obligation's CIDA has to produce results because these budgets often go through CIDA. Without launching a whole new review of the need for CIDA and its objectives, perhaps we could nevertheless try during an hour or an hour and a half to review CIDA's principles on democracy, governance, etc. I know that you have said that we need to put some emphasis on one element and that we don't want to redo the work which was done previously, but in my opinion the objectives of the millennium are governance, and the democratization of states. Now all of that is handled by or goes through CIDA. We thus have no choice, and cannot avoid it.

I suggest that we devote a good hour to review the objectives and obligations of CIDA.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

I agree. I think that will happen. We will have the minister here. There will be opportunity for that, and more. To limit it to an hour and a half.... I think we'll have more. I don't know if everyone has had an opportunity to look at the prospective witnesses we have in Norway and some of those countries, but aid and trade there, and how they deliver that aid, is linked fairly closely. So I can pretty well assure you that there will be an overlap. But the main focus, the main direction, the main road we're on here is democratic development. All these little things we can....

Go ahead, Madame Bourgeois.

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

With all due respect Mr. Chairman there are countries that are not democratic which do receive money from Canada through CIDA and that are greatly helped by Canada. I am thinking of countries that are not democratic states, of countries where democracy is not being provided. I think that we must address this matter. Of course, you will be going on your trip, but there are all these other countries elsewhere. When Canada is providing $300 million in aid the committee must examine the allocation of such a large sum to countries that do not have a democratic regime.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Mr. Van Loan, you're next.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Obviously, a large portion of Canada's work on democracy promotion and democratic development is delivered through CIDA, but not all of it is, and there are other formats and methods for delivering democracy promotion and democratic development. So I think it's obvious that through the study we will look at some of them. But in terms of doing a comprehensive study, we should also be going beyond the box of what just CIDA does.

I will point out, though, that we are going to have bill C-293 coming before us on development aid, and if one wants to talk about those issues and the effectiveness of CIDA and so on, that's a perfect opportunity for that.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

We'll have Mr. Obhrai and then Madam McDonough.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Chairman, first let me congratulate you for being in the chair. It's pretty heavy for me to say that.

If time is available, I don't see anything wrong in the committee looking at CIDA's contribution in its study. We have a full agenda, but if time permits, I think we should do it. There's nothing to hide. There are a lot of questions that have been asked about CIDA. You have our report here, and we have such a short session. But I don't see any reason why we can't, if time permits.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

I think the will is that if we have the opportunity.... We don't want to change the main focus. I know that in opposition, the worst feeling you get is when you feel that somebody's trying to stop you from doing a study or stop you from looking at something.

I think we're going to have lots of opportunity to take a look at CIDA or to take a look at how we deliver humanitarian aid, and it's noted that this is the wish of the committee, and there will be that opportunity.

Now we go to Madam McDonough.