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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

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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—

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

No, we're talking generally here.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

That's all the time we have, but I'll let you respond, Mr. Brown.

4:20 p.m.

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

Dr. Stephen Brown

Okay. My understanding is that most of the money that goes towards microfinance is going through NGOs and non-profits like the Grameen Bank, not Citibank or CIBC.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

But if it did, would you have a problem with that?

4:20 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

A point of order, Mr. Chair.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

It's a yes or no question, so I'd appreciate an answer.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

Did you have a point of order?

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Yes. It's just that Grameen Bank is a for-profit organization in Bangladesh—huge profits.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

All right. Thank you.

We're going to move to Madame Laverdière.

You have five minutes.

May 7th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you both very much for your very interesting presentations.

Professor Brown, we have noticed that there seems to be a shift in CIDA assistance, away from very poor African countries and towards more middle-income Latin-American countries. Often, they are countries with whom we have signed a free trade treaty. Do you understand the logic behind that shift? Is there not the danger of it running counter to CIDA's responsibilities under the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, which stipulates that assistance should contribute to poverty reduction?

4:20 p.m.

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

Stephen Brown

Thank you very much for the question. It allows me to respond to some comments made by Ms. Brown, who stated that the majority of Canada's assistance goes to middle-income countries. That is true. You mention something that I also highlighted in the document she quoted: political change, the ever clearer tendency to focus on middle-income countries. In 2009, for example, when Canada changed its core countries and went from a list of 25 to a list of 20, it dropped eight poor African countries and added middle-income countries from Latin-America. We are seeing that pattern repeat itself. CIDA's recently announced cuts affect the poor countries. In a number of cases, we are maintaining assistance to middle-income countries.

As you said, assistance is shifting towards middle-income countries with which Canada has very significant commercial ties. This is a misrepresentation of the fundamental goal of development assistance, which is to reduce poverty and inequality. As you mentioned, there is also the danger of failing to comply with the legislation that defines assistance in Canada and sets out its goals.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Thank you very much for your answer. In fact, there is even a danger of failing to comply with some of our international commitments.

4:25 p.m.

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

Stephen Brown

Absolutely. For example, there is the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and other international agreements that were signed subsequently. We must respect our commitment to development strategies as defined by partners in developing countries.

Let me take this opportunity to reply to Ms. Brown's comments that we have to do what our government partners tell us. That is only partly true. We are committed to the concepts of empowerment, of shouldering responsibilities, of ownership. It is not about any empowerment, it is democratic empowerment. A number of these partners are not democratic countries. They are authoritarian countries, or partly so. Just because a government says that it is in favour of such and such a development model does not mean that Canada has to see it as the country's choice. The government is not necessarily representative of the situation. That is why Canada must, under the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, consult partners in civil society and elsewhere in recipient countries.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Thank you.

This may seem to you to be a slightly different kind of question. I also have a question for Mr. Shariff. It is not central to the question we are discussing today, but I would not like to leave here without taking advantage of your expertise in all things CIDA. I hope I will have enough time.

How would you describe the morale of the troops in CIDA right about now?