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

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

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

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

All right.

Go ahead, Madame Bourgeois.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

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

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

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

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

Go ahead, Madame Bourgeois.

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

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

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Mr. Van Loan, you're next.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

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

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

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

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

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

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

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

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

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

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

Now we go to Madam McDonough.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

I don't think we want to beat a dead horse here, but I think there's all the more reason to make sure we have a pretty sharp focus on ODA as part of our tool kit around democratic development, because we are now going to be dealing with BillC-293. It would make a lot of sense for us to go to a number of countries that do this extremely well, countries that see dealing with extreme poverty and the inadequacy of public infrastructure and so on as key to being able to open the door to democratic development. For us to not use the opportunity to begin in earnest to do the homework to roll it back into the discussion about Bill C-293 wouldn't make any sense at all.

I don't think we have an argument here; I think we just want to make sure we don't bypass the obvious opportunity to really focus on this in a pretty serious way as part of our European trip.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Norway, Ireland...some of these countries have just issued white papers in the last little while. Ireland did it last week, and copied Norway's way of doing it. We aren't going to Ireland, no, but we do have that available to us. They took Norway as a model.

I noted that when the list of witnesses for Norway, Sweden, and Finland was given out, the clerk took the liberty of putting down some of the individuals who were experts in delivery of humanitarian aid. I think that is great, because we'll know, going into that meeting, that when we meet with this individual in Norway, or wherever they may be, much of what we're going to talk about is humanitarian aid delivery. So I think there will be lots of opportunity.

Mr. Wilfert.

September 25th, 2006 / 4 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Chairman, I do think it's important that we focus. And on the issue of CIDA, I would agree with the speaker who indicated it with regard to millennium development goals. There's no question that CIDA has played and continues to play a very important role in terms of millennium development goals. We have signed on to that by 2015, and we need to make sure we have the right tools and are reaching those objectives--and they range from the environment, to empowerment of women, to democratic deficit issues. So I think it's important that we do that and not try to bundle everything together, that we do have very specific areas that we're going to deal with, and then go from there.

And I don't necessarily subscribe to the fact that because CIDA may be helping a country that isn't democratic.... Part of the work, say in Vietnam, is that it is helping to democratically develop the judiciary, bureaucracy, and other organs. That, I think, is important, and part of the focus should be on how we are measuring those goals in countries such as Vietnam.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Thank you.

All right. So you have the report in front of you.

Could we just have a motion to adopt this? It has been noted, and I see the clerk is writing down here exactly what the intent of the meeting is on some of those issues. But we do need this to be adopted in order to proceed.

It's moved by Mr. Van Loan.

Madam McDonough.

4 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

I just want to clarify, it seems to me what we need to do is amend the report to include Bill C-293, which has now been referred to the committee. And somebody who has a better handle on some of the process issues than I do, perhaps, can tell us for sure what the timeframe is by which we need to report back to the House.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

The last day to report back to the House is February 7, 2007, which doesn't--

4 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Okay. We're probably not going to spend January doing this, so we need to amend the fall schedule.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

No, my intentions are that we do not spend January going through Bill C-293, seeing that January is usually a time in our constituency. We can ask for an extension, but not really. We want to get that in there by February, for sure.

Mr. Obhrai.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Perhaps the clerk can tell us how much time we estimate we will spend on this thing. If you have February 7, as you said, as the last day, and we are mandated by Parliament to do it, then we should put it over here. There's no other choice.

How long will it take to do that process?

4:05 p.m.

The Clerk

It's for the committee to decide how much time it wishes to take to study the bill.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

But I understood from the chair that there were some problems that needed to be resolved.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Mr. John McKay--I don't know which riding is his or if I have to go by ridings--has acknowledged that there are ways he can change it and he has some ideas.

I'm sure the department is looking at ideas. Others may look at the specifics as to what the Speaker ruled was really not necessarily out of order but would require royal recommendation.

Mr. McKay has suggestions for our committee, so we will try to get Mr. McKay before the committee. We'll try to go through it as quickly as we can but not push through it.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

What timeframe?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

I would say that we want to leave probably three or four meetings in order to go through it.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

So we might as well put it in here.