The best example is actually with the Haitian diaspora. CIDA has the longest-running contribution agreement of any development agency with the diaspora group Regroupement des organismes canado-haïtiens pour le développement--ROCAHD. When I was working the Haiti beat and the U.S. mission in Haiti first started working on diasporas, the ambassador came to the post, Dean Curran, with a list of priorities, and so did the USAID mission director. I had been working on the issue for a couple of years, and there was great synergy.
We found out about the project that CIDA had been running and we tried to get information about it. Dean Curran, the ambassador, wrote to his counterpart, the Canadian ambassador in Haiti, asking for information. The head of USAID for Latin America wrote to his counterpart in CIDA, asking for CIDA to send a group to Washington, to send a group to New York for meetings. We never could get any information out of CIDA about this. I finally had a PhD student who was interning for me interview the group. To get the information from CIDA, I actually came up on a house-finding trip—a longer story—and I took the afternoon off, went over to Gatineau, walked in to CIDA, tracked down the guy who was in charge of the project, and got him to pull the project files down.
So there has been some work done by Canada, but it's mostly hidden. There have been remittance corridor studies funded by Finance Canada. That's a source for information on remittances that should be coming out of the Department of Finance. In the U.S. it's being funded by foundations—Ford, Rockefeller. We don't have an equivalent in Canada. The Gordon Foundation has done some work on this, but they can afford $5,000 or $15,000, and Rockefeller will spend that on coffee in a year for meetings on diasporas. So we don't have the resources from that sector. It will have to come from the government.
In terms of diasporas, for the white paper I wrote for USAID on remittances I looked at groups in Africa, Europe, and elsewhere. Every community is different, so you really have to inventory your development priorities in groups, and this is what we did back at USAID a long time ago. But every country in Latin America and the Caribbean has a “Minister of the Diaspora”. The importance of these groups is recognized by the host country--not just the World Bank, it's the sending countries. Haiti's had a diaspora minister for ages. Mexico is doing so many things to leverage their input and to work with them. It's unbelievable. In Uruguay and Argentina, you wouldn't think of them, but they're focusing on the scientific diaspora and how to get them back home. So if you want to do something, it's not just development agencies and not just the diaspora groups, but ministries and countries back home.
We've had meetings of diaspora ministers. The Indian diaspora minister has been over to Mexico and we've helped organize and run meetings between them. The Philippines have joined in. So there are these great networks. It's low-cost and easy to tap into, but it requires a change in culture; it requires a change in thinking about development. You really have to change the people on the official development side to become more flexible, more creative, and more entrepreneurial in their thinking. It requires a huge leap of faith, to some degree, by the development community to be able to work with these groups, and that's been a major obstacle. It's been overcome at the IDB. It's been overcome at USAID. It's been overcome in Europe. Canada, as the honourable Minister of International Cooperation noted, is late to the table on this. I think even CIDA recognizes that they're the odd man out in the international development community.
There's a reason why every other development agency is doing this. There's a reason why development agencies are working on their second generation of public-private partnerships. They're not throwing it out; they're not saying it didn't work. They're working on their second generation because it works, because it's effective. It's not just bilateral agencies, it's multilateral too. Canada stands out as the one that's not doing it.