Official Development Assistance Accountability Act

An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

John McKay  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of May 29, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment sets out criteria respecting resource allocation to international development agencies and enhances transparency and monitoring of Canada’s international development efforts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

March 28, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
March 28, 2007 Passed That Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of development assistance abroad, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
March 28, 2007 Passed That Bill C-293, in Clause 9, be amended by replacing lines 30 to 35 on page 4 with the following: “to preparing the report required under section 13 of the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act, contribute the following to the report submitted to Parliament under subsection (1): ( a) the position taken by Canada on any resolution that is adopted by the Board of”
March 28, 2007 Passed That Bill C-293, in Clause 4, be amended by replacing line 25 on page 3 with the following: “official development assistance as defined by this Act”
March 28, 2007 Passed That Bill C-293, in Clause 4, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 22 on page 3 with the following: “et des organismes de la société civile”
March 28, 2007 Passed That Bill C-293, in Clause 4, be amended by replacing lines 26 and 27 on page 3 with the following: “that meets the criteria in subsections (1) and (1.1).”
March 28, 2007 Passed That Bill C-293, in Clause 4, be amended by adding after line 16 on page 3 the following: “(1.1) Notwithstanding subsection (1), official development assistance may be provided for the purposes of alleviating the effects of a natural or artificial disaster or other emergency occurring outside Canada.”
March 28, 2007 Passed That Bill C-293, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 6 on page 3 with the following: “les organisations de défense des droits de la”
March 28, 2007 Passed That Bill C-293, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing, in the English version, line 4 on page 3 with the following: “or”
Sept. 20, 2006 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

March 3rd, 2009 / 7:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I am proud to second this important bill, particularly in light of the fact that the member for Scarborough—Guildwood who proposed it has a record of success in private members' business. We recall the way that he worked with Bill C-293, the overseas development act, to make sure that poverty was the focus of overseas development assistance.

I cannot help but react a little to my colleague from the NDP. I understand his concern, but we are trying to do something here. The member for Scarborough—Guildwood has been able to move legislation through the system. It does not happen all that often, as members would know, but he has done it twice now and he is going to work on doing it a third time.

We have to keep in mind that we have to present a bill that can actually pass the House. We want to make a difference; we do not just want to make a point. We cannot let perfect be the enemy of better. This bill will make things better.

Why is the bill important? I think we know why it is important. In Canada we have a unique position. Sixty per cent of the world's mining and exploration companies are listed. There are Canadian companies that have been implicated in practices which none of us would be proud of, both in terms of how they treat the environment and how they treat human rights.

Complaints regarding the impact of the overseas operations of Canadian extractive companies have been lodged with a number of international organizations, so there are problems and Canadians cannot just turn a blind eye to them. We have a responsibility to the people around the world. Canadian companies especially have a responsibility to give something back to the places where they take profit.

In 2007 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that Canada take appropriate legislative or administrative measures to prevent acts of transnational corporations from Canada which negatively impact upon the enjoyment of rights of indigenous people outside Canada. We have a responsibility and I think we would all want to see something that would make it better.

As my colleague mentioned, in 2006 the Canadian government was involved in round tables to address corporate misconduct in the extractive industries. There is a whole list of recommendations that were agreed to. I will not bore everybody with the details, but a number of recommendations were agreed to by a wide range of stakeholders: industry, labour, academia and civil society. They agreed on these recommendations and they put them forward, but nothing has happened.

We recognize that there is an issue. We recognize that there are solutions, but we also recognize that the government has done nothing about this issue.

My colleague from the Conservative Party suggested that the Conservatives are going to come up with something that would make this bill redundant. I would suggest that we pass this bill and make whatever they are going to do redundant, if in fact anything is going to come down the pike when it comes to this.

I have had the chance to travel with my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood and see his commitment to people from other countries, particularly countries that have not been as fortunate as Canada has been. I had the chance to travel to Kenya with him, the former member for Halifax, and our colleague from Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley. He is aware of organizations from Canada that are making a difference, and there are many.

There are many organizations from Canada that are making a huge difference in the third world. There are NGOs that are making a big difference. CIDA can make a difference. Right now my sister is working for WUSC, World University Service of Canada, in Sri Lanka. She is making a difference. We met Canadians on our trip who were with the Red Cross and they were making a difference.

Canada does a lot of very positive things in the world, but we also contribute to the problems that we then have to alleviate. Canadians expect us to do better. There has been some mining of public opinion which indicates that 90% of citizens believe that corporate social responsibility should be a top corporate priority. Sixty-five per cent of surveyed Canadians want companies to go beyond simply obeying laws and become fully accountable for any conduct that might undermine social and environmental health.

Canadians want us to do it. They see there is a problem. I suspect the average Canadian may not know what this means internationally to any great extent, but they have an expectation of Canada to do better. At one point in time Canada had a great reputation, and we still have a good reputation, but I would say it has been undermined to some extent.

I noticed that Canada ranked 10th in the 2007 Responsible Competitiveness Index 2007. A lot of countries ranked below us, but as usual our Nordic friends and many countries in Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand, are ahead of us in corporate responsibility.

It is possible to do better. My colleague mentioned that there are companies that do a good job for us. I know of one that is based in Nova Scotia, a company called Etruscan Resources. They had a gold mine, one that was not desperately profitable at the time, in Niger, which is very near the bottom of the human development index of the United Nations. At the time, I think it was 173rd out of 174.

There was a potential for mining, but they decided that before they took any profits out, they would make sure there was some social infrastructure there. They came to my father, who had just resigned as the premier of Nova Scotia, and asked for his help. He was delighted to help and very proud of the work he was able to do. They built a health clinic that exists to this day. They brought in the Rotary Club from Dartmouth. They have had some international assistance, and the Canadian government has helped a little bit. They have left a lasting legacy of Canadian goodwill and investment in that community. I believe they are now doing some business in Burkina Faso.

There are companies that take this responsibility very seriously, and I applaud companies like Etruscan Resources. I applaud people like Gerry McConnell, the president of that company, who has taken a responsible view. I say with some measure of pride that the health complex is named after my late parents, John and Margaret Savage. It is a source of great pride to our family. The people in that community have a very high opinion of Canada, and I think Etruscan Resources and other companies like it deserve an awful lot of credit.

That is how Canadians would expect a Canadian company to do business. If we are going to go overseas, make money and mine the land, we should do it responsibly. We should respect the environment. We have all heard stories of companies that have not been so respectful. More than anything else, we need to treat the people with the respect that we ourselves would want to receive. As an international player, I am afraid we are not the gold standard anymore, but we can do better. We should do better. We should live up to the expectations that the people in this country have for us, and we should go beyond them.

We should recognize the work that international aid organizations do in pulling all this stuff together and in keeping us responsible. I hope and expect that support for this bill will equal the support for my colleague's last bill. Organizations like the CCIC, which does so much good work in Canada, Make Poverty History, Development and Peace, the Micah Challenge, and the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund all believe that we can make the world better. Let us get behind this bill and encourage government members to support it. We can get it to the committee stage. We can work on it and do all the things our colleagues want us to do. However, let us remember that we are here to make the world a better place. We are here to make a difference, not just to make a point.

I applaud my colleague for bringing this bill forward. I am very proud to second it and I hope that all members in the House will support it.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

February 11th, 2008 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would have been much more impressed by the hon. minister's speech had he not first killed his own legislation in order to bring us to this point in the first place. Every element of the bill that is currently before the Senate was in the Senate prior to prorogation.

In 2006 the Liberal Party offered to fast track this legislation, but we were refused. In 2007 we offered to fast track it and again we were refused. The bills passed through the House and were sitting in the Senate and being dealt with in an expeditious manner. Then the government killed its own legislation by prorogation.

So what we have here is a minister telling us to pass this legislation, to pass this legislation because we must have this legislation, and all he is doing is recycling his speeches from last year because he likes to make those speeches. For goodness' sake, the Conservative government has wasted a year and a half on its own legislation and now it has the gall to tell the Senate to hurry up.

My goodness gracious me. It is an extraordinary circumstance in which a minister kills his own legislation through prorogation, then comes back to the House and says he has a new package and he wants us to pass it immediately. That is my number one point.

My number two point is about the further hypocrisy of the government. Two bills, Bill C-292 and Bill C-293, have been sitting in the Senate since March 2007. Conservative senators stonewall them, divert them and do everything but deal with them. Therefore, I wonder if the minister's enthusiasm to have the senators move on his own legislation extends to other bills that this chamber has in fact passed.

Royal Recommendation--Bill C-474Points of OrderOral Questions

December 11th, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, December 7, the Acting Speaker invited comments on whether Bill C-474 requires a royal recommendation.

Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I submit that the bill's provisions to establish a new and independent commissioner of the environment and sustainable development who would be a new agent of Parliament would require new government spending and therefore, would require a royal recommendation.

Clause 13 of Bill C-474 would require the governor in council to appoint a new commissioner of the environment and sustainable development. The clause sets out the powers, duties and term of office of the new commissioner. This would be an organizational change which would require increased spending. There are numerous precedents to this effect.

The requirement for a royal recommendation for a new agent of Parliament is made clear in the Speaker's ruling of November 9, 1978, and I quote, “...if this bill is to impose a new duty on the officers of the Crown...these objectives...will necessitate expenditures of a nature which would require the financial initiative of the Crown”.

The requirement for a royal recommendation for organizational changes, such as establishing a new department or a commissioner, is referred to in the Speaker's ruling of July 11, 1988, and again I quote:

...to establish a separate Department of Government and a commissioner of Multiculturalism...undoubtedly would cause a significant charge upon the Federal Treasury in order for the new Department to function on a daily basis.

The Speaker's ruling of September 19, 2006 on Bill C-293 concluded that the creation of an advisory committee requires a royal recommendation since this clearly would require the expenditure of public funds in a manner and for a purpose not currently authorized. I quote from that ruling:

--the establishment of the advisory committee for international development cooperation provided for in clause 6 clearly would require the expenditure of public funds...

I believe this principle should apply to Bill C-474 since the creation of an independent commissioner of the environment and sustainable development would clearly require new spending to remunerate the commissioner and to provide administrative support to the commissioner. Although the bill does not specify these requirements, the Speaker has ruled that a royal recommendation would, nevertheless, be needed.

The Speaker's ruling of February 8, 2005 states:

Where it is clear that the legislative objective of a bill cannot be accomplished without the dedication of public funds to that objective, the bill must be seen as the equivalent of a bill effecting an appropriation.

I would suggest this was the reason that a royal recommendation was required for the 1995 amendments to the Auditor General Act that established the office of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development within the Auditor General's office.

The office of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development has over 40 staff and reported spending $2.8 million in 2006-07 for sustainable development monitoring activities and environmental petitions. It must follow that the establishment of an independent commissioner of the environment and sustainable development would require an office of professionals to support the commissioner in carrying out his or her duties, as set out in clause 13.

Since Bill C-474 would represent a change to the conditions and qualifications that were attached to the original legislation that established the office of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, a new royal recommendation would be required for Bill C-474.

Page 183 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms reads:

--an amendment infringes the financial initiative of the Crown not only if it increases the amount but also if it extends the objects and purposes, or relaxes the conditions and qualifications expressed in the communication by which the Crown has demanded or recommended a charge.

It is clear that by removing the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development from within the office of the auditor general and making the commissioner report directly to Parliament, Bill C-474 is proposing a change to the conditions and qualifications that were attached to the original legislation. Therefore, I submit that Bill C-474 requires a royal recommendation.

December 3rd, 2007 / 2:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Massimo Pacetti

Thank you.

Mr. Salmon, you spoke about Bill C-293. My colleague, Mr. McKay, is the sponsor of the bill. I assume you're in favour of it, but have you heard why it hasn't been moving more quickly?

Pearson Peacekeeping CentrePrivate Members' Business

June 18th, 2007 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion that was introduced by our Liberal colleague from West Nova and is before us today is very positive, in my opinion. The proposal that the federal government fully fund the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre does not seem like a whim to me, because the centre's mission is fully in line with the Bloc Québécois position on foreign development assistance.

As you know, political, geographical and religious conflicts cause serious harm to people, and even one conflict is one too many. The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre was created at the federal government's request in 1994, when a number of countries bordering Germany and Russia were in a rather unstable and fragile state after the fall of the eastern bloc. The centre's mission is to train civilians, military personnel and police officers for peacekeeping missions and to promote research in order to guide public policy debate.

The increasing demands of conflict prevention and resolution, and the growing scope of Canada's involvement in all aspects of peace operations required the creation of a focal point for education, training, and research activities. The teaching environment needed to be multidisciplinary and international, providing a location where persons from different professional, cultural and national backgrounds could learn together. This diversity reflects actual field conditions. The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre was established in Nova Scotia in 1995 and expanded in 1999, opening an office in Montreal to better serve the international francophone community. In November 2003, recognizing the importance of having a presence close to the seat of government, the centre opened a liaison office in Ottawa. Most of the centre's official courses are given abroad, in Africa, eastern Europe and Latin America.

Unfortunately, the centre has always had funding problems. When it was created in 1994, it was supposed to be financially self-sufficient by 1999. It has proven to be difficult for a peacekeeping training centre to be self-sufficient. The Bloc Québécois thinks it is important for the federal government to subsidize this centre. In March, the Bloc Québécois was pleased with the Conservative government's decision to give the Pearson Centre $13.8 million over three years, from March 2007 to March 2010. This funding was for the basic infrastructure of the centre: salaries, rent, equipment, etc. The funding does not cover the projects and courses offered by the centre. It is piecemeal. For example, CIDA is responsible for funding conferences in Canada and abroad.

Until recently, the Department of National Defence funded training courses on peacekeeping missions at the Cornwallis office in Nova Scotia. Located outside major centres in a small community, the advantage of this site is that simulations for the purposes of exercises can be held without disturbing people in the surrounding areas.

The Department of National Defence has decided to stop funding the training courses at the Cornwallis office, saying that National Defence will provide training itself at the base in Kingston.

The only purpose of the Cornwallis office was to provide training. Without federal funding for these courses, the Cornwallis office may have to close its doors. Training is at the very heart of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre's mandate. The Cornwallis section is very important and the upheaval that will result from closing this section could be very damaging to the centre.

The importance of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre should not be underestimated. The training and policy directions there are directly related to the policy Canada has been developing since the days of Pearson, whose goal it was in the 1950s to devote 0.7% of gross domestic product to development assistance—an objective I would point out has still not been met, unfortunately.

The development assistance envelope has not stopped shrinking, going from a little less than 0.5% in 1991-92 to 0.45% in 1993 and 0.25% in 2000.

The decrease was particularly significant when the Liberals were in power, but the Conservatives have not managed to do much better.

Through the debate on the motion, I want to reiterate today that the Bloc Québécois is committed to having the federal government implement a realistic and concrete plan to achieve the UN target of 0.7% of GDP for international assistance by 2015. To reach this, the Conservatives must start increasing development assistance budgets now, at an average rate of 12% to 15% per year.

The Bloc Québécois' desire to see this happen is genuine , since we have worked long and hard to improve Bill C-293 to make the development assistance objectives as clear and effective as possible, by proposing that the federal government make all bilateral assistance dependent on respecting fundamental human rights, but also ensure that the money is not diverted from its original purpose.

The Bloc Québécois believes that, given the importance of the Pearson Centre, the government should work with it to ensure a seamless transition from DND funding of training courses to other funding. The federal government should provide full funding temporarily, until the Centre can find new clients to fund its training courses. The federal government has the means to fund this Centre.

Under no circumstances should the Conservative government reverse its decision to fund the basic infrastructure of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.

Because the Bloc Québécois has always supported initiatives aimed at resolving conflicts through dialogue and mediation, the Bloc Québécois supports Motion M-311.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2007 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, one piece of legislation which should be certainly the concern of this House is the private member's Bill C-293, which deals with Canada's official aid position and CIDA, and which is also in the Senate. It would guide the work of CIDA in the future in ways which would pick up on the themes of fighting poverty, which have been so important to everybody in this House.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

April 16th, 2007 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and take part in the debate on the budget implementation act. It is obviously one of the most important legislation that comes before the House every year.

When I thought what I might talk about today there were a number of things. I have to bypass the easy way, which is to only talk about the Atlantic accord that is resonating throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. I might touch on the subject of the Atlantic accord, but I want to talk more generally about the budget and how I think it has divided Canadians. It is a very cynical budget.

There is a lot about which we can talk. With the amount of money spent on this budget, the richest budget ever, Canadians would be right to have assumed that everybody should have had Christmas Day on budget day. In fact, it was far from festive for most Canadians. The budget could have done a great many things if it had been focused on helping those who needed help the most, or maybe if it had focused on innovation, the productivity gap, aboriginal Canadians, the environment and other things.

I suspect the response to the budget across the country has not been what the government wants or what the Minister of Finance wants. We can go to the minister's website and see the online poll he has done. He asks Canadians if they have benefited from the budget and 93% of the respondents have said no. That is a pretty significant number.

It is not only the minister's website. A number of other people have done some very open-minded and objective evaluations of the budget. One of the institutes that I go to quite frequently is the Caledon Institute. It does great research and work on a number of issues. I notice that its evaluation of the budget was, as usual, very thorough and effective.

I will read a few quotes by the Caledon Institute. It calls it “Mixed Brew for the 'Coffee Shop' Budget”. It says, among other things:

The ‘new’ child tax credit—in reality an obsolete program resurrected from the 1980s—tops this list. The funds for this inequitable scheme could have been far better spent on increasing the existing progressive Canada Child Tax Benefit or creating additional child care spaces. These...investments would have been much more helpful to ordinary Canadian families than a child tax credit that gives $310 to millionaires who do not need it and nothing to the poorest who do.

That is quite indicting.

Another quote says:

Ottawa has chosen instead to introduce a bundle of tax carrots that will serve a variety of particular groups but will provide little or no benefit to the broader population of low- and modest-income Canadians. The Budget could well have been named “Opportunities Lost.” With a $19 billion price tag, never has so much been spent with so little result.

It seems to me that the leader of our party has said very similar things to that. I agree with him and I agree with the Caledon Institute.

The institute also refers to specifically “The “New” Child Tax Credit: a policy zombie resurrected”. It says:

All non-poor families will receive $310, including the very rich; some low-income families with a low tax liability will receive a smaller amount, while the poorest will get nothing at all because they do not owe income tax.

The poorest families will get nothing. This measure will make income inequality among families worse, not better.

It refers to last year's universal child care benefit and says:

—this Budget’s non-refundable child tax credit are inequitable, wasteful programs that deliver benefits to upper-income families for whom the payments are a meaningless drop in their income bucket, while depriving low- and middle-income families...

The institute goes on in a lot of different ways. For example, it talks about aboriginal Canadians who are noticeably absent from the budget. It says:

The Kelowna Accord was a solemn agreement signed by the provinces, territories, First Nations and Aboriginal organizations, and the previous Canadian government.

It talks about the new federal government rejecting the Kelowna accord and says:

Now it becomes apparent that Canada’s New Government has no plan at all, unless doing as little as possible can be characterized as a plan.

That is a reasoned, thought out, analytical view of what the budget has done. It is not only the Caledon Institute that says this. I suspect if Kelowna is a socialist plot, then the government would think that the Caledon Institute is probably a socialist organization to the government side.

It is a long time since I have heard Andrew Coyne called a socialist. The National Post suggests:

—with this budget. [the Minister of Finance] becomes officially the biggest spending Finance Minister in the history of Canada. That's after inflation and population growth is taken into account. They've now increased under this Conservative government...spending by $25 billion in two years. Is this what Conservative voters wanted? No sense of priorities, not a nickel in real, honest to God tax cuts of any kind. There's a lot of spending programs disguised as tax credits for children...which may be fine programs, but they're programs, not tax cuts.

Nancy Hughes Anthony, president of the Chamber of Commerce, another well known socialist, suggests:

I don't think there's anything new there. [He] actually told us at the time of his income trust announcement in October that he would adjust the tax cuts corporate tax cuts in the future...instead, we saw small little targeted breaks for everybody from lacrosse fans to truckdrivers.

In general, this is an unfocused budget. Most Canadians know that if we really wanted to increase productivity and benefit Canadians, particularly those who might be able to use a bit of a break, we would lower personal income taxes, perhaps to the level the Liberals did in the economic update of November 2005.

What else got mentioned in the budget but got very little action? How about the environment? John Bennett, senior policy analyst for the Sierra Club of Canada, says:

This government has abandoned its obligations to the Kyoto protocol and abandoned its moral responsibility to keep our international commitments...This government has no intention of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It has every intention of trying to sound like it does, but has no intention to actually do it.

That is consistent throughout the budget. The government sounds like it can do something without actually having to do it.

On social programs, Monica Lysack of the Child Care Advocacy Association says:

For a government that identified childcare as one of their priorities, this is an admission of failure.

There was an editorial in the Toronto Star. There are a number of things I could say, but let me quote this. It says:

What is left, then, is not a crafty pre-election budget, but a financial document that is unfocused, that is devoid of a national strategy to tackle any of the major social issues facing this country, and that does little to help the poorest of the poor.

Aboriginal Canadians are perhaps the most targeted group in the budget by their exclusion. Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says:

We're extremely disappointed, frustrated because it's obvious that those that did well today are those that are considered important to this government. Those that are viewed as unimportant did badly, and we did badly.

An awful lot of issues in the budget have not been addressed.

There are a couple more issues in the development area, both regional development and international development. For the second budget in a row under the Conservative government there is no mention of regional development programs like ACOA.

Previous governments had a big plan for ACOA, which in the last number of years has done some amazing work in Atlantic Canada and has invested in research and innovation. The Atlantic innovation fund has driven university research and has helped Atlantic Canada's strong but generally smaller universities to compete and provide innovative solutions and also commercialization of products. There is no mention in the budget.

The minister suggests there have been no cuts to ACOA, and we hear that all the time, but consistently the estimates indicate not only cuts to regional development across the board but to ACOA. The money is shifted from here to there, but there is never any evidence of what is actually happening with the spending. Regional development is a big issue.

On international development, I will tell the House a story about a trip I took to Kenya with three other members of the House, three friends, the Conservative member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, the member for Halifax and the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, who sponsored the great private member's Bill C-293, the overseas development assistance act, to make poverty the focus of international development.

There is so much that Canada can do in the world. It does not all have to be centred on Afghanistan. In fact, we see everyday in countries like Kenya the needs of the developing world and so many ways that Canada can help. Canada has helped and I hope it will continue to help.

When the four of us went to Kenya, we saw some amazing things and amazing people. We met Beatrice, who lost all seven of her children and their partners in less than two years to HIV related issues. She was a grandmother. She was a street beggar. She had 12 grandchildren. What was she going to do? She thought she would have to poison her grandchildren because she could not take care of them. Instead, she got up one day and decided she would do something about it. She borrowed $15 U.S. from a micro credit in the slums of Nairobi, and today she runs three businesses in the slums.

This is the kind of resilience that exists in third world. These are the kinds of people who can make a huge difference.

Susan is a woman who we met in Eldoret in western Kenya. I remember my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood was particularly touched by her. She worked in a microcredit in a big, open, empty warehouse with some sewing machines and people making bags. We went over to talk to Susan. She looked up at us happy and smiling and said, “Thank you, God” for the blessings he had given her. She is HIV positive and was given up for dead. Now she is living and working because of a microcredit. She makes lovely cloth bags with beads on them. We asked her how many she could make in a day. She said that she could make five bags in a day. How much does she get paid for each bag? Eight Kenyan shillings. She makes forty Kenyan shillings a day, which is the equivalent of 65¢ or 70¢ Canadian in a day.

We all know about the terrible rates of poverty, disease and the lack of sanitation in which people exist throughout the world. Working full time, she makes less than $1 Canadian a day and she considers herself fortunate.

What the people of Kenya can do with little should be such a spur to countries like Canada to invest in making their lives better. We can do so much. We should hit our millennium target of 0.7% of GNI to international aid. I felt that on the government side. We can do this.

In countries like Kenya and other African countries in sub-Saharan Africa there is a resilience, a strength, an entrepreneurial savvy among the people who simply have nothing, but make do. Not only do they make do, but they thank God for what he or she has given them. It is an inspiration.

Canada can do a lot more. I would like to see more mention of international development. I would like to see Canada commit to reaching 0.7%. At the very least I would like to see us ensure that we maintain the work we have done in places like Kenya where CIDA has been active. Its funding may be threatened over the next few years for the work it does on tuberculosis.

Kenya is a country about the size of Canada. Three hundred Kenyans a day die of tuberculosis. How many people in Canada even think tuberculosis is still a disease about which to worry? Five hundred people a day die of HIV. Millions of young African children die of malaria. We can do so much more. The area of international development is lacking in the budget as well.

I want to turn for a second to the issue of the Atlantic accord. This is an issue that has absolutely dominated discussion in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador. We hear about it from Premier Danny Williams and a bit about it from Rodney MacDonald. This is the dominant issue in Atlantic Canada. We can listen to what the premiers have said about it.

We have all heard what Danny Williams has had to say. He has stood up and he has fought for his province. He wants to keep what he fought for. He says:

A promise was made. We expected that promise to be kept by the Prime Minister and, indeed, his government....Even though he is claiming that they are excluding 100% of non-renewable natural resource revenues [they are not]....There is a sense of betrayal, a sense of disappointment.

That just about says it all.

Rodney MacDonald, the Premier of Nova Scotia is not the most fiery of speakers. He is concerned about the accord, though. On March 19, he said:

It's almost as if they want to continue giving handouts to Nova Scotians rather than us keeping our offshore accord and that to me is fundamentally unfair.

A lot of people in Canada do not fully understand this. When we debated it in the House of Commons, people on the other side stood up and asked foolish questions. It does not matter to them. They get briefing notes from some hack in the Department of Finance or a backroom Conservative who hauls it out and says “Go fight the battle”. They have no idea what this actually means.

Let me just educate members a bit on the Atlantic accord. This is the agreement that was reached between the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia on offshore revenues on Valentine's Day 2005. It says:

—the Government of Canada intends to provide additional offset payments to the province in respect of offshore-related Equalization reductions, effectively allowing it to retain the benefit of 100 per cent of its offshore resource revenues.

Then it says:

The amount of additional offset payment for a year shall be calculated as the difference between the Equalization payment that would be received by the province under the Equalization formula as it exists at the time...

Very simply, this means that offshore revenues are excluded from equalization. If equalization goes up, the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador would get the improved equalization plus they would keep their offshore revenues. A choice has allegedly been offered to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador which would have the old equalization with the old formula or the new equalization that some in the rest of Canada will benefit from. We should have both. It should not be one or the other.

The former Prime Minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, the member for Halifax West, who was regional minister, and the then minister of finance and now our House leader, did a great job on that for the people of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

If anybody thinks the offshore is just politics, I would like to read a few headlines. I will not go into details. Marilla Stephenson said in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald dated the week of the budget:

Note to Rodney: Stephen played you big time. The Prime Minister has played you like a fiddle. If any theme rang through the Prime Minister's budget delivered on Monday night, it was that the have-nots are to remain, well, have-nots. The Prime Minister stoops to conquer. Jeering from the sidelines were the budget's unlucky trio of obvious losers: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan. All are now victims of a calculated insult--

David Rodenhiser in the Halifax Daily News said:

Nova Scotians are left asking themselves: Who's standing up for us? Right now, the answer is no one. Certainly not our federal cabinet minister, the member for Central Nova, who's defending Ottawa rather than Nova Scotia on this. And not MacDonald, who's content to pursue process rather than take action. MacDonald repeatedly stated yesterday that provincial finance officials are gathering information and requesting meetings--

Here is a headline entitled: “Atlantic Tories running for cover; Cabinet representatives urged to stand up for region's rights”. Another one says it all. The headline in the Chronicle-Herald reads: “Federal Conservatives shaft province, once again”. There is not much more to be said about that.

Now the topic has even changed a bit because for a while we heard that the provinces did not really get a bad deal because they had a choice of two deals. That lasted about a week.

In the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Saturday it stated, “It appears that Ottawa and Nova Scotia are now working on an accord deal. Plans said to be a compromise on the scrapped 2005 Atlantic accord agreement”.

There is not much question that Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador were betrayed by their cabinet representatives and by their Conservative members with the dismantling of the Atlantic accord, a deal which provided such hope for the people of Nova Scotia and for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Apparently, other provinces feel the same way. Having spent two weeks back home, I can tell the House that this is not an issue likely to fade anytime soon.

ACOA, international development, the Atlantic accord, the failure on child care, and leaving the poorest of the poor vulnerable are not acceptable. Some things were not even mentioned in the budget that have come to pass.

Last Friday, members of the Coast Guard in my own community of Dartmouth--Cole Harbour were called to a meeting and were told there were going to be new Coast Guard vessels. They would be made in Canada. They were also told that their jobs would be moved from Dartmouth, where they have been for years, to St. John's, Newfoundland, which happens to be the riding of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the minister responsible for the Coast Guard. There was no explanation, no business plan, or no idea of where this came from. There was no explanation given to the workers about what was going on. We do not even know if there is a dock in St. John's that could handle them. That is an insult to the people of Dartmouth--Cole Harbour. They are rightly concerned about this issue.

This budget is designed very clearly for the next election, not the next generation. It is political arithmetic, add a few votes here, appeal to a few votes there, pander, troll for votes in bunches where they can be found. If people do not vote Conservative and likely never will, or they contribute too small of a voting block, too bad. There is nothing for them. Aboriginal Canadians, sorry. Low income families, sorry. Atlantic Canada, sorry.

The budget is a cynical concoction of winners and losers. Guess who the real losers are? The real losers are the people who need help the most.

We have benefited as a nation from governments, mainly Liberal but also PC, that have built the social infrastructure of Canada. We are now witnessing a government that is ignoring the needs of the vulnerable and is spending billions of dollars trying to buy the next election. It is not the way good governance is done. It is not the way to inspire a nation. It is wrong and it needs to be fixed.

Development Assistance Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

March 28th, 2007 / 6 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think that if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote on the motion just taken to the additional seven amendment motions, report stage, and third reading of Bill C-293.

Development Assistance Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

March 28th, 2007 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motions at report stage of Bill C-293.

Call in the members.

The House resumed from March 22, consideration of Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Development Assistance Accountability ActPrivate Members Business

March 22nd, 2007 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this debate on a very important private member's bill, Bill C-293 sponsored by my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood. I would like to congratulate him for an excellent piece of legislation which I certainly will be supporting. Any time we can bring more accountability and transparency to the Government of Canada, to the Parliament of Canada, that is a very good thing.

I would like to note that one of my constituents, Mr. Sharif Salla, wrote me a note and asked me to support this bill. It is not often that a constituent, at least in my experience, writes in to support a private member's bill, but I will be supporting it for that reason and for a host of other reasons.

The bill sets out what the government should be doing with respect to official development assistance, or overseas development assistance as some people would call it. It states:

Development assistance may be provided only if the competent minister is of the opinion that it (a) contributes to poverty reduction; (b) takes into account the perspectives of the poor; and (c) is consistent with Canada's international human rights obligations.

There is one piece missing. I have spoken to my colleague, but obviously the committee and the House at this point have not considered it a valid argument, but I think it still is. I would add a fourth criteria which would be that the recipient country practises good governance and is committed to the fight against corruption. I think it is a very important point.

The member for Nanaimo—Cowichan talked about the work that Malaspina College is doing with the country of Ghana. Ghana is a country that has committed to the fight against corruption. I had the great pleasure to meet President John Kufuor. Many of my constituents are from Ghana originally. He is an honest man, a good man. It is coming right from the top that Ghana is committed to fighting corruption.

We need to be mindful of that because Canadians and indeed people around the world are sick and tired of sending money to countries only to have the money ripped off by greedy leaders who stash away huge amounts in offshore banking centres or they launder the money domestically and buy votes. We cannot tolerate that any more, where 50¢ dollars that are going into countries for overseas development assistance just are not good enough. The bill goes a long way to bringing more accountability.

One of the criteria is that it contribute to poverty reduction. That is a very noble, very necessary criteria, but it is a vexing question. How can that be measured? The measurement process is very difficult, but it is still an objective that we need to keep in our sights and we need to keep working on.

A few years ago I had the great honour as a member of a subcommittee of the finance committee and the international affairs committee to meet in Washington, D.C. with Robert McNamara who had served as president of the World Bank and of course as secretary of defense in the U.S. government. In his role as president of the World Bank, we asked him how accountable could our Canadian dollars be going through these development organizations, the multilaterals, or even our bilateral assistance, how could we be assured that it was reducing poverty?

That gentleman who was president of the World Bank for seven or eight years said that was a very difficult and challenging question because there are so many other variables. If development assistance goes into a country the next year, there could be flooding, or there could be five years of drought, or there could be a conflict. How do we take out those variables and measure whether the development assistance that went to that country actually reduced poverty or did not? Notwithstanding that, it is an important criteria.

I am somewhat surprised that from time to time when we look at development assistance we do not spend enough attention looking at the question of corruption.

I recently read a book by Jeffrey Sachs who is a special adviser at the United Nations. He advises the UN on how to reach the millennium development goals, which are the goals to reduce poverty worldwide.

In his book, The End of Poverty which is some 300 pages, I looked up the word “corruption” in the index. Sadly, I could not find the word “corruption”. In fact, in his whole book when he talks about development assistance and fighting poverty, there is not one mention of the word “corruption”.

I have had the opportunity over the years to be very involved with the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. It has 700 members of Parliament worldwide and is represented in around 70 countries. It was actually my colleague across the floor from St. Albert who took the initiative to get this organization going. There is a lot of momentum. We are including more and more parliamentarians around the world, those parliamentarians who are committed to the fight against corruption and are committed to doing something about it.

I would like to put some context to corruption. I did some work, for example, to look at the correlation between poverty and corruption. There is a high level of correlation. It is in the 90% range.

The problem is we know there is a high correlation between poverty and corruption, but we do not really know which comes first, whether the poverty comes first and that drives the corruption, or whether the corruption comes first and that drives the poverty. There is actually no reasonable way to try to come to grips with that and try to deduce that, but we do know there is a high correlation.

I was attending some debates in Europe one time and members of Parliament in Europe were arguing that poverty drives corruption. I think that is true to some extent, particularly at the lower levels of what we call petty corruption, petty bribery, where people have to pay so many rand, rupees or shillings to get a permit to do this, that and the other thing. If the people who are working in those departments are not paid anything, they are expected to take bribes.

When leaders of countries, whether they are elected leaders or officials, are salting away millions and billions of dollars into Swiss bank accounts, I am sorry, this is not driven by poverty; this is driven by greed. I have a few examples of some of the people over the years. This is only a partial list of leaders of countries who have salted away billions of dollars. The amounts are not really in dispute. They are pretty well widely acknowledged.

For example, President Suharto of Indonesia salted away between $15 billion and $35 billion U.S. Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines salted away about $5 billion to $10 billion. Mobutu Sese Seko from Zaire, $5 billion. Sani Abacha from Nigeria, $5 billion. Slobodan Milosevic from Yugoslavia, $1 billion. Mr. Duvalier from Haiti, $300 million to $800 million. Alberto Fujimori, Peru, $600 million. Pavlo Lazarenko from Ukraine, $114 million to $200 million. Arnoldo Aleman from Nicaragua, $100 million. Mr. Estrada from the Philippines, $78 million to $80 million.

If we look at the range of those and total them up, we are looking at a figure of $32 billion to a high of $58 billion. These are just some of the leaders of these countries, impoverished countries I might add, and I will come back to that in a moment. The leaders of those impoverished countries have salted away millions. Interestingly, the list does not include President Daniel arap Moi in Kenya who salted away, it is pretty well acknowledged, $3 billion to $4 billion U.S. Imagine how many hospitals and schools that kind of money would buy in Kenya.

It is estimated that corruption can add 8% to the cost of doing business in a corrupt country. In a country such as the People's Republic of China, it is estimated that corruption accounts for about 15% of GDP.

This is an issue that we have to deal with. I was going to talk about the correlation between poverty and corruption more precisely, but I will not have time to do that.

I would like to think that perhaps my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood would consider a friendly amendment, which would now have to be done in the other place I gather, that would add the good governance criteria to the three criteria that he has in the bill now which are excellent ones. I think we need not delude ourselves that if a country is corrupt and it has no commitment to good governance, we are sending tax dollars into an area where we are making the rich and the corrupt more rich and more corrupt, and we are not really lifting out of poverty the people that are in poverty, those very people that we are trying to reach.

Development Assistance Accountability ActPrivate Members Business

March 22nd, 2007 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this bill before the House today. Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of development assistance abroad, is an important piece of legislation. Although it is a private member's bill, I feel quite comfortable in saying that New Democrats will be supporting it.

I also want to acknowledge the tireless work of the member for Halifax. She has spoken passionately about the importance of this bill before the House. In a previous Parliament, she introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-243. I want to acknowledge the very good work done by the member for Halifax on this particular piece of legislation.

Although this bill talks about issues such as looking at accountability and transparency and does not specifically address money, I think there is an important context to this bill. An Embassy article on March 21 talked about the fact that Canada's official development assistance level fell from 0.34% of GNP in 2005 to 0.33% last year. Barring any large changes, that number is expected to drop to 0.32% in 2007.

As the needs are increasing throughout the world, we see that Canada's commitment is actually dropping off. Many of us have supported the 0.7% allocation for aid and we would encourage all members of the House to work hard in that direction.

I want to address a couple of issues about why this private member's bill is so important. I will refer to some of the work that the Stephen Lewis Foundation has been doing. It has been doing a tremendous amount of work around the grandmothers to grandmothers campaign. This highlights the need for this particular piece of legislation. I will read for members from an article from one of the websites:

Sub-Saharan Africa has overwhelming numbers of children orphaned by AIDS--an estimated 15 million, projected to reach 18-20 million by the year 2010. As the death rate accelerates, countries and communities simply cannot cope. They are so impoverished that they're driven over the edge by additional mouths to feed and by the desperate efforts to absorb the orphan children.

Amidst this devastation, grandmothers have stepped into the breach. They bury their own adult children and then look after their grandchildren; often as many as fifteen to twenty kids. Somehow, these unrecognized heroes of Africa hold countries and communities together.

Part of the goal of this grandmothers to grandmothers campaign is to have grandmothers and grandfathers in Canada work to support grandmothers in Africa, who are often the glue that is holding families together. Without these grandmothers, many of these children would simply end up on the streets and eventually die.

This is an effort by a number of groups throughout Canada. I want to talk about one in particular from my own riding in Nanaimo. There is a group called the Nan Go Grannies. The Nan Go Grannies formed after hearing Stephen Lewis speak about the plight of women and children in Africa. They developed a group that came together to do fundraising to help out grandmothers in Africa who are dealing with children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

The Nan Go Grannies have drafted a mission statement that states:

We are moved to act by the generations of people affected: the millions of children who see their mothers die, the mothers who die in extreme poverty without even meagre resources to ease their suffering, and the elderly, often frail grandmothers who shoulder the burden of raising many children despite their own grief and the lack of resources.

Thus, we have an example in my own riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan of grandmothers coming together to work hard on behalf of the children and grandmothers in Africa.

In addition, my riding also has another project on the go that is supporting people internationally. There is the Malaspina Ghana project, which is a collaboration between Malaspina and two colleges located in Ghana. It is partially supported by CIDA, but in addition, the Malaspina Ghana project is doing fundraising in the community for this initiative.

The purpose of the project is to help reduce poverty in the Sunyani district of Ghana through four community development projects identified by their partners. These include reducing household waste, reducing HIV-AIDS, improving forest fire management, and developing ecotourism.

The intent of this project is to work with partners in Ghana to develop outreach programs and other strategies aimed at providing rural communities with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively address the four project areas described above.

It is these very good local initiatives that are so important in supporting citizens in other countries in their desperate struggles around poverty, sickness and lack of access to clean drinking water. Many of these things have been outlined in the millennium development goals. It is very important that we in Canada continue to support this good work.

I want to talk a bit more about the reality of HIV-AIDS and again about why accountability and transparency are so important in the dollars we are sending overseas. On the grandmothers to grandmothers website, they talk about “key statistics on orphans, grandmothers and HIV-AIDS”.

These are global figures. The number of people living with HIV-AIDS in 2006 was 39.5 million worldwide, and 24.7 million in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of women living with AIDS in 2006 was 17.7 million worldwide, and 13.3 million in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of people newly infected with HIV in 2006 was 4.3 million worldwide, and 2.8 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Those are generations of people that we are losing. In many cases what we are talking about is the hollowing out of the working people. We are talking about losing people between the ages of 18 to 49. In Africa, those are the most productive years of people's lives. Those are the mothers and the fathers, the workers, the farmers and the truck drivers. Africa is losing that entire generation, thus passing on that burden to the grandmothers.

The article goes on to talk about the fact that sub-Saharan Africa has 10% of the world's population but makes up more than 60% of all people living with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, approximately 13 million children have been orphaned by AIDS, a higher number than the total of every girl and boy under 18 in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland combined. That figure is expected to reach more than 18 million children by 2010.

According to HelpAge International, older women are the backbone of AIDS care. In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, between 40% to 60% of orphans live in grandparent-headed households, with the vast majority of these grandmothers. Over 50% of orphaned children live in grandparent-headed households in Botswana and Malawi and over 60% in Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

These are frightening figures. If we can encourage members of this House to support this important piece of private members' business now before the House so we have a quality of life in other countries, so we can say with some confidence that we are completely behind the millennium development goals, and so we are urging this House and all Canadians to support the 0.7%, it would be an important step. We could hold our heads up high in the international community.

As it is, Canada continues to fall behind the goals that have been set by many people in this country, including the make poverty history campaign. I would urge each and every member of this House to support this private member's bill, to say yes and demonstrate that we can be leaders in the international community.

Development Assistance Accountability ActPrivate Members Business

March 22nd, 2007 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to discuss Bill C-293 which is much awaited by groups working in the field of international cooperation.

This bill sets out criteria respecting resource allocation to international development agencies and enhances transparency and monitoring of Canada’s international development efforts.

First, I must explain the context surrounding this bill.

In her February 2005 report, the Auditor General of Canada raised a number of questions concerning the management of CIDA. Among other comments, the report set out the following observations: CIDA has sharply increased the use of grants rather than contributions to fund aid projects; a situation that was troubling at the time because, to some degree, CIDA was sacrificing a degree of control and oversight over how recipients spend CIDA funding.

CIDA also makes grants without prior evaluation of needs. CIDA does not audit any in-kind contributions. Of 19 files reviewed, 12 mentioned this type of contribution, but for 11 of those, there was no indication that CIDA had done any analysis to determine their real value.

In addition, only 3 of 19 agreements audited noted that CIDA had considered the cost elements of the project, in order to verify that there was no provision for profit by the recipient. Finally, according to the Auditor General, CIDA needed to strengthen its current practices concerning audit adjustments, because it was possible that the agency was reimbursing unauthorized expenditures. These criticisms by the Auditor General made it clear that there were a number of shortcomings in CIDA’s accountability and transparency.

This bill contains two important elements. First, it defines development assistance and second, it defines the framework for providing such assistance.

Development assistance must first contribute to a reduction in poverty. It must also take account of the opinions of the poor. It must be compatible with international standards of human rights and it must, necessarily and absolutely, include mechanisms for consultation and the production of reports that are available to every citizen.

That means that in order to contribute to a reduction of poverty, the government must calculate its official development assistance budget by taking into account only the criteria that are defined in this bill.

As for the reduction of poverty, certainly over the past 25 years we have witnessed a significant decline in world poverty. With the appearance of new economic powers such as China and India, thousands of people have got out of their impoverished state and have been able to access education, live as equals and satisfy their hunger. It remains, however, that the situation has also worsened in some other countries, and that we are still far from a world in which everyone has enough to eat and the infant mortality rate is comparable to rates in the western world.

In 2005, the then Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan, published a report in which he indicated his intention to strengthen the UN. His three major themes were: the freedom from want, the freedom from fear and the freedom to live in dignity. This was a program that demanded fundamental reforms of the organization itself, notably the expansion of the Security Council.

With regard to the main points of this bill, the Bloc Québécois supported Kofi Annan's plan to implement measures that would enable all peoples of the world to live free of want, that is, to make the right to development a reality for everyone and to free all humanity from want.

In Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency’s goal is to support the efforts of developing countries to improve their social and economic prospects.

Also, it is written on the CIDA site that its mandate is to reduce poverty and to contribute to a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world.

The Bloc Québécois totally agrees with CIDA that it should reduce poverty in the world. We also share the idea that this should take place in a context of sustainable development. Canada, through its development assistance, must ensure sustainability for the local population. It would be too easy to adopt solutions that produce immediate results but that would be sources of problems for future generations.

This being said, the wording of the bill left us a bit puzzled during second reading. The bill says, in clause 2:

—that all Canadian development assistance abroad is provided with a central focus on poverty reduction—

We would have liked the bill to contain a provision broadening as much as possible the meaning of the word “poverty”. What meaning do we give to the struggle against poverty in development assistance? We believe that the reduction of poverty must also include its underlying factors.

Poverty is not only a matter of money, it is also a social issue. That is why we think that the UN’s millennium goals are the frame of reference that would enable us to better identify the work required to actually alleviate poverty.

There are eight millennium goals: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce female mortality ; improve maternal health; combat HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. Only two of those eight goals appear in the bill: eradicating poverty and sustainable development.

Although the millennium goals are all related to poverty, we believe we have to go much farther. For example, outbreaks of certain diseases are often due to unsanitary conditions, inadequate investment in health and so on. Although they are all connected, the UN goals focus on specific problems and must be addressed independently to enable development in countries that receive Canadian assistance. We must never forget that poverty often results from socio-economic inequalities within a country. In that regard, we submitted an amendment to the committee stipulating that any measures to address poverty take into account the underlying factors, such as health, education and equality. Our amendment was rejected.

I have only two minutes left but I have so much more to say. We support this bill because we think that we need to find out what poor people think. At some point, we will also have to discuss Canadian values. The Bloc Québécois wholeheartedly supports this bill, a bill it helped create. This bill will ensure that official development assistance focuses on reducing poverty. In the current context, where poverty provides fertile ground for terrorism, we must act immediately. We do, however, believe there are other ways to fight terrorism.

The purpose of this bill is to ensure that CIDA, in providing assistance, respects the environments in which it is helping people. CIDA will also require the government—and this is very important—to take the opinions of people in the field into account.

We support this bill. We hope that all parliamentarians in this House will vote for it.

The House resumed from February 20 consideration of Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of development assistance abroad, as reported (with amendment) from the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Official Development AssistancePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

March 22nd, 2007 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, as you may or may not know, my private member's bill will be the final hour of debate tonight. It is a bill with respect to official development assistance. It is to take into account the alleviation of poverty for other citizens of this world, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and to meet our human rights obligations.

This bill has enjoyed wide support on both sides of the House. It was at one time, in fact, supported by the Prime Minister.

Over the course of this morning, 10,000 names will be deposited on the floor of this House in support of this bill and other matters.

In the petition that I am tabling, the petitioners request that Parliament enact legislation to ensure that all Canadian development assistance contributes to poverty reduction, takes into account the perspectives of the poor, and is consistent with Canada's human rights obligations.

That is exactly what Bill C-293 is all about. I am hoping for support from all sides of the House, not only in debate tonight but on the subsequent vote.