Evidence of meeting #36 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 development.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Stephen Brown  Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual
  • Khalil Shariff  Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Foundation Canada

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Just one policy objective of the two countries is similar.

I'm curious to kind of build on this. You throw out mainland China, and with that comes human rights abuses at home and abroad—the exploitation you see. I think it's a stretch to say that Canada is even remotely in that league. I'm just curious about whether you're implying that Canadian firms are going to start to behave like Chinese firms overseas in the way they treat workers and in some of the human rights abuses.

4:40 p.m.

Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Dr. Stephen Brown

That was not at all what I meant or argued. Canada has signed on to and enacted legislation that says that foreign aid is separate from commercial objectives. It's separate from investment, trade, and non-aid. So we separate aid and non-aid instruments. There are certain definitions that must be followed to count foreign aid as ODA, official development assistance.

China doesn't make those distinctions. As Mr. Eyking said, it will provide infrastructure and loans. It will invest and sign a trade agreement. It will purchase natural resources, sign a 20-year contract—all of that bundled into one.

Canada currently officially does not do that. Officially it opposes that kind of activity. But with this kind of partnership with mining activities and a focus on countries where the commercial interests, not the needs, are the greatest, we are moving towards that.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

I see. So as Mr. Eyking said, it's more of a slippery slope. But I would argue that's true in any public policy.

It sounds like it's more of a scare tactic than anything else. You're suggesting that if this were to go horribly wrong, it could fail. But I think it was a question my colleague, Mr. Dechert, raised...that with any public policy, when you're trying to achieve better results, there is always a risk.

My last question is this. If it's okay for reputable NGOs to partner with Canadian companies, why is it so bad for the Canadian government to do the same thing? I don't get that. You're suggesting they can do it, but we don't have the skill, the expertise, or, frankly, we're not interested in the value for money that they are.

4:40 p.m.

Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Dr. Stephen Brown

In my closing remarks I mentioned that the Canadian government has many instruments with which it can—and in response to your earlier questions I said it should—partner with Canadian companies.

My main message here is that the use of public funds with private corporations for the goal of development—and by development I mean poverty alleviation and fighting inequality—must be done only with extreme care, and my concern is that the current partnerships with these mining companies and NGOs do not meet the standard of an effective use of public development funds.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

So if we were able to demonstrate that care to you, you would have no problem with the policy?

4:45 p.m.

Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Dr. Stephen Brown

I'm sorry, able to demonstrate what?

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

The care you just referenced. If we were to show that extreme care you're talking about, you would sign on to the policy?

4:45 p.m.

Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Dr. Stephen Brown

The care, but also that this was a more effective way of using development funds, that they were being used in places that needed it the most, that were based on recipients' needs and not the needs of, for instance, Canadian mining companies to obtain and retain the consent of people negatively affected by the mining companies' operations—

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

I think that's fair enough. We do have decades of what I would call failed poverty reduction strategies, where, as you just pointed out, money was spent and more money was seen as perhaps producing better results. It didn't do that. Now we're trying to tap into markets, which is a change.

I suppose another question for you...I'm kind of curious—

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Actually, that's all the time you have.

I'm going to turn to Ms. Brown for five minutes.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'm pleased that universities are centres of conflicting thought so that people can explore lots of different ideas.

We had Carlo Dade here, senior fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, from the same institution as you. Mr. Dade told us, in his comments, that Canada is way far behind in this whole initiative, that actually USAID and the U.K. have been doing this for quite some time and that Canada is very late to the table on this initiative. So it's interesting to have the diversity of discussion.

Mr. Shariff, I'm very interested in your comments about the maximizing of multiplier effects. We often talk about trickle-down effects, and I think that's what you're looking at with some of the initiatives your organization has taken. You talked about economies being interdependent, that one initiative can create a multitude of other impacts. You talked about the mobile phone company and you talked about Roshan.

I'd really like to know more about the agribusiness and the tourism that you talked about in your new business models. How are those creating those ripple effects in the economy that are allowing other people to start their own businesses, for instance? Can you talk about those?

4:45 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Foundation Canada

Khalil Shariff

Mr. Chairman, thank you.

I do think that one of the impacts of intelligent and thoughtful private sector activity in the developing world is that it has ripple effects.

I would like to say, though, that I don't think it is an automatic outcome. I think they have to be designed this way. They have to be designed with a development mindset. If designed with a development mindset, there are huge possibilities.

If I take the tourism example, tourism is the sector that employs among the most people in the world. It's a very important sector for the developing world. It also earns hard currency. But you can have a tourism sector that attracts low value-added tourists or you can have one that attracts high value-added tourists.

The Serena hotel chain has tried very hard to establish benchmark-creating investments, to demonstrate that in the developing world, with development world talent, you can create global standard facilities and then attract global standard tourists, business people, and attract a conference market, etc. But if you are to do that, you have to do it in a way that also creates a strong local constituency. You do a lot of work in training, you do a lot of work in backward linkages to all the supply chains that would help a hotel do its business, whether it's food or all the services a hotel needs. All of that, if intelligently designed, can be sourced from local markets.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

May I just interrupt for one moment?

4:45 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Foundation Canada

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Do you have a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya?