Evidence of meeting #28 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was cida.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Carlo Dade  Senior Fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Yes, that's all the time we have, seven minutes.

We're going to move over to Ms. Brown for seven minutes, please.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Dade, it won't be a surprise to you that people on this side of the room believe in assisting independence and self-reliance, whereas my opposition colleagues seem to be intent on keeping people in poverty. We want to see people lifted out of poverty. That has to be our long-term goal. Our long-term goal ought to be for CIDA to work itself out of a job. That's really what we should want to see happen.

As you have so colourfully said, it's not necessarily about money; it's about ideas and innovation that come out of the private sector.

I've been in the private sector. I come from a business background. I know how you have to reinvent yourself every day in order to be current and in order to continue to be relevant to the culture in which you are working.

With regard to these long-term strategies and to creating sustainability, you have this great expertise in public-private partnerships. I know you've had discussions with CIDA on them. Can you talk to us about the response you've had from CIDA and about what this looks like going forward for Canada?

4:05 p.m.

Senior Fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Carlo Dade

Sure.

First let me note that I agree that putting CIDA out of business is a great goal. There are many development organizations that have as their motto “Putting ourselves out of business”.

I do think, though, that the opposition is deeply concerned about poverty alleviation, and I applaud them. I wish that the honourable MP for Laurier—Sainte-Marie were here. She would be able to comment from her time in Chile and elsewhere. I know they're deeply concerned about poverty alleviation. It's simply a matter of the most efficient and effective means of achieving it. I believe this is both more efficient and more effective, that it will do more good and be able to do more in terms of development.

It's the difference between methods and goals. We all agree about the importance of poverty alleviation, and we all have that as a priority.

In terms of conversations with CIDA, if I took exhibit A, I would need another couple of pages to talk about the decks and presentations to CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs on this issue. If you look at exhibit B, from the last conference, we used our own money to bring up the leading experts from Washington, the IDB, USAID, and the Prince of Wales business leaders forum to meet with CIDA and DFAIT to talk about these issues. Most of the papers you see listed there were done with money from CIDA. So time and time again, we've been to CIDA. We've done presentations for staff, senior to junior. We've done decks. We've discussed the reports.

I have had three phone calls from CIDA over the past six years, each of which has started with, “Hi, Carlo. My name is.... I've just been handed the task of looking at how CIDA can work with the private sector, and someone said I should talk with you.” And I say, “Well, great. I'm happy to talk. Have you seen all the work we've done on the issue, the papers, the reports? Have you talked with other people inside CIDA?” The response has always been, “No.” So I ship it over. It takes several e-mails. You can't send the stuff in one e-mail. It takes five or six or ten e-mails because they're so large.

Three years later I get another phone call: “Hi, Mr. Dade. My name is.... I'm at CIDA. I've just been assigned to look into how CIDA can work with the private sector and was told I should talk with you.” And I say, “Well, did the last guy give you the...?” The answer's always been...“No”.

Luckily the last person with whom I had this conversation is still at CIDA. Thank God he's still there and he's still working on the issue. So I'm hopeful that this time it's finally taken.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

So I'm sure you're happy that we've undertaken this study.

4:10 p.m.

Senior Fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Carlo Dade

I had given up hope.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Well, we definitely thank you for your input.

As you know, we had Hernando de Soto with us, and one of the things he talked about in his presentation was the need for companies to have capacity-building, to have legal structures, to have property rights, and to have a judicial system. Do you have any recommendations for us or any comments on how we can help or how CIDA could help with that?

4:10 p.m.

Senior Fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Carlo Dade

Sure.

There's been a proposal presented by Hernando de Soto's think tank in Haiti, Centre pour la Libre Entreprise et la Démocratie. It was developed several years ago with USAID funding to develop the proposal. USAID hasn't been able to continue with it for a variety of reasons, but that proposal has been shared with CIDA and it gets to the issue of unlocking the huge amount of capital that's available for the poor in Haiti. This is an agenda that development agencies want. The UNDP talks about this, the UN talks about this, and in the Haitian private sector their banks are on board for this. It's part of their revolution of growth for all in Haiti.

This would be something that's very easy to look at. It's been shared with CIDA. I sent a copy to your side and also I sent a copy to the critic for Latin America. I don't know if she's passed it on to the other members of the NDP, but that was my one contact with the party. I sent it to Paulina to pass on to you. So I think you're both familiar with it.

Unfortunately, Mario Silva is not around any more, so I didn't have a contact with the Liberals to send it to.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

I still have more time, so I will talk about the diaspora.

You talked about the great opportunity there is for the diaspora to be participant in this. Are we seeing the diaspora growing their own companies in countries in which they are currently living and taking that expertise back? Are we finding that there is a mutual benefit that's happening there?

4:10 p.m.

Senior Fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Carlo Dade

It depends on the diaspora group. If you look at diasporas, the characteristics differ by country of origin and they also differ by country and place of settlement. So the huge difference is, for example, in the Haitian diaspora in Brooklyn and the Haitian diaspora in Miami in terms of business engagement, political engagement, and differences with the community in Montreal.

The best example of this is India, where the flood of investment in IT and other things in India was largely enabled by the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley. You had people who knew India, relatives, and knew the system back home, but were through and through 100% Microsoft. They worked their way up through Microsoft or through Google or through another company and the U.S. company would trust this person enough, because they were 100% Microsoft, to go back and set up an operation in a country where the U.S. company didn't know the business environment and they wouldn't normally risk investment. So that's been hugely important.

Again, the problem with Canada is we do not have the research on this. In the United States we have remittance flows down to the county. If you look at a map of Georgia, you can see how much money is coming from certain counties and where it's going. We know extremely little, almost nothing, about this phenomenon in Canada, so research is desperately needed. The best we get are estimates from USAID about what's going on. We just haven't done the research. But there's huge potential, and we see this potential being realized in projects. USAID, the French, the Spanish are using these projects to increase development outcomes, create development actors--

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

I'm sorry, but we're going to have to cut you off here.

We're going to move on to our last seven minutes of the first round.

Mr. LeBlanc, sir.

March 26th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, Mr. Dade. It has certainly been very informative, from my own perspective. The passion you have, the knowledge you have, and the experience you have certainly make me imagine a scenario where it's not an either/or prospect of having public funds for development projects or working with the private sector in the broadest sense of the term.

What struck me in your opening comments is we tend to think about company X building a school near project Y as private sector work in development, but if you look at it much more broadly, there is a whole host of possibilities that aren't necessarily contradictory with other development objectives, or don't necessarily get substituted for other development objectives.

I want to pick up on a question Ms. Brown had. The diaspora involvement is an interesting way to view private sector participation in development. You mentioned the example of the Indian diaspora in California, and you ran out of time. I want to give you a chance to pick up on that.

In Canada we don't have research or accurate information on these remittances and on the level or the precise nature of them. What would you suggest the government or some other group could do? How would we get better information? Who typically funds this kind of research? How would we get this information? It certainly appears to be very valuable.

I found your example of the Haitian community in Miami or Brooklyn or even Montreal very interesting. Are there other examples in Canada, looking at the Canadian context, where diaspora communities might, in your view, be good partners for development and where Canada, the Government of Canada, has development priorities? In other words, is there a match with an effective diaspora community? The Haitian one in Quebec certainly is an obvious one, but are there others that come to mind specifically with which the government or CIDA or other private sector developers could work in terms of trying to leverage some of that participation?

4:15 p.m.

Senior Fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Carlo Dade

Sure.

The best example is actually with the Haitian diaspora. CIDA has the longest-running contribution agreement of any development agency with the diaspora group Regroupement des organismes canado-haïtiens pour le développement--ROCAHD. When I was working the Haiti beat and the U.S. mission in Haiti first started working on diasporas, the ambassador came to the post, Dean Curran, with a list of priorities, and so did the USAID mission director. I had been working on the issue for a couple of years, and there was great synergy.

We found out about the project that CIDA had been running and we tried to get information about it. Dean Curran, the ambassador, wrote to his counterpart, the Canadian ambassador in Haiti, asking for information. The head of USAID for Latin America wrote to his counterpart in CIDA, asking for CIDA to send a group to Washington, to send a group to New York for meetings. We never could get any information out of CIDA about this. I finally had a PhD student who was interning for me interview the group. To get the information from CIDA, I actually came up on a house-finding trip—a longer story—and I took the afternoon off, went over to Gatineau, walked in to CIDA, tracked down the guy who was in charge of the project, and got him to pull the project files down.

So there has been some work done by Canada, but it's mostly hidden. There have been remittance corridor studies funded by Finance Canada. That's a source for information on remittances that should be coming out of the Department of Finance. In the U.S. it's being funded by foundations—Ford, Rockefeller. We don't have an equivalent in Canada. The Gordon Foundation has done some work on this, but they can afford $5,000 or $15,000, and Rockefeller will spend that on coffee in a year for meetings on diasporas. So we don't have the resources from that sector. It will have to come from the government.

In terms of diasporas, for the white paper I wrote for USAID on remittances I looked at groups in Africa, Europe, and elsewhere. Every community is different, so you really have to inventory your development priorities in groups, and this is what we did back at USAID a long time ago. But every country in Latin America and the Caribbean has a “Minister of the Diaspora”. The importance of these groups is recognized by the host country--not just the World Bank, it's the sending countries. Haiti's had a diaspora minister for ages. Mexico is doing so many things to leverage their input and to work with them. It's unbelievable. In Uruguay and Argentina, you wouldn't think of them, but they're focusing on the scientific diaspora and how to get them back home. So if you want to do something, it's not just development agencies and not just the diaspora groups, but ministries and countries back home.

We've had meetings of diaspora ministers. The Indian diaspora minister has been over to Mexico and we've helped organize and run meetings between them. The Philippines have joined in. So there are these great networks. It's low-cost and easy to tap into, but it requires a change in culture; it requires a change in thinking about development. You really have to change the people on the official development side to become more flexible, more creative, and more entrepreneurial in their thinking. It requires a huge leap of faith, to some degree, by the development community to be able to work with these groups, and that's been a major obstacle. It's been overcome at the IDB. It's been overcome at USAID. It's been overcome in Europe. Canada, as the honourable Minister of International Cooperation noted, is late to the table on this. I think even CIDA recognizes that they're the odd man out in the international development community.

There's a reason why every other development agency is doing this. There's a reason why development agencies are working on their second generation of public-private partnerships. They're not throwing it out; they're not saying it didn't work. They're working on their second generation because it works, because it's effective. It's not just bilateral agencies, it's multilateral too. Canada stands out as the one that's not doing it.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

That's all the time we have.

We're going to start our third round.

Five minutes, Mr. Dechert.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Dade, for your very important information today.

You've talked a lot about diaspora remittances. We all know that Canadians contribute a lot of these remittances around the world. We should find out the exact numbers.

One of the things you talked about was the cellphone payment method. I wonder if you've done a study generally on the costs of transferring funds from Canada, the U.S., and other countries to these diaspora groups. I know in my riding, in Mississauga, there are probably at least a hundred different diaspora groups. You see these Western Union shops everywhere. I don't want to just dwell on one company; there are many companies who are in this business. My sense is that they charge a significant amount of money, a significant percentage of the cost of transferring funds. I wonder if you could tell us if you've done a study on that. How can those costs be lowered so that greater amounts can actually get to the people who need the assistance in their home countries?

4:20 p.m.

Senior Fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Carlo Dade

The remittance corridor studies that Finance Canada did through or in partnership with the World Bank looked at those issues to some degree. Alan Simmons at York University did a very brief bit and I did a survey of recipients in Jamaica and that gives some ideas on ways to look at the cost. But again, in terms of not reinventing the wheel, this work has been done extensively in the United States. The markets do not differ so significantly or to any degree that the work there would be not be applicable here.

A lot of the work in reducing costs has already been done. The systems set up by the Inter-American Development Bank and by groups like Fonkoze are already in place and are being used in Canada. It's simply a matter of making sure that groups here have access to these systems.