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 cida.

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

4:15 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

Yes. I'm in favour of assistance.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Okay. Good.

Look, it sounds as if you're arguing more with a kind of process. At the end of the day, I don't believe in corporate welfare. I don't like government spending tax dollars on any corporate entity. I think businesses should go raise their money and do what they have to do in the marketplace.

But in this case, are you not concerned with...? You just don't like the fact that it's a business entity that might be delivering these programs, as opposed to an NGO or another entity not linked in with a business. Is that correct, as a starting point?

4:15 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

My main concern is that public funds are needlessly going to activities that could be financed otherwise, and that those funds would be better spent elsewhere. I'm not saying that the activities are necessarily bad, but this is not the best mechanism or necessarily the best place to spend limited public funds.

May 7th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

That's a good point. You talk about building schools and doing things overseas, but I would argue that there are an awful lot of Canadian taxpayers who think that in fact money should be—and is—better spent in Canada, actually. I would put to you that if in fact we're going to have aid money budgets—and I think we should—we have a duty as legislators to ensure those dollars are actually receiving results.

If it is actually shown—I believe it is, and I believe Mr. Shariff's portfolio and his statements today highlight this—that in many cases private businesses not only are going to have the expertise but are going to be able to deliver results at a lower cost to taxpayers.... But you dispute that and you oppose that, just because you don't like money going through businesses.

4:20 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

No, I think that's inaccurate. What you're doing is what I mentioned earlier: conflating different kinds of businesses.

I'm especially in favour of things like microfinance and supporting start-ups of companies in developing countries. I'm less in support of public funds going to large, highly profitable Canadian multinationals—

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

But hold on—

4:20 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

Please let me finish my sentence.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Sorry.

4:20 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

I'm less in support of public funds going to large, highly profitable Canadian multinationals to undertake activities that they themselves say they have no expertise in.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

But—

4:20 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

That's why they say they need CIDA funds and need to work with the NGOs.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Fair enough.

4:20 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

Because they themselves don't have that expertise.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

All right. I can accept that, but when you talk about microfinancing, in many cases that's money going to banks, which are some of the most profitable entities on the planet today. But in that case you're okay with it.

You dress it up to make it sound like microfinancing is just something at the local level but there is no profit there. In fact, it is an area where we are giving money to highly profitable companies that succeed both in the marketplace and, at a time of crisis, from bailouts from government. You're saying that's okay, but other businesses, no—

4:20 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

As far as I know, CIDA is not giving money to—