Mr. Speaker, I would also like to address the death of Father Pinard and extend condolences on behalf of the Reform Party to his family and friends.
Father Pinard was tragically murdered while delivering communion in Rwanda. This senseless and shameful act has shocked Canadians and has reminded us all of the dangers faced by many Canadian men and women who work abroad under very difficult and uncertain circumstances to relieve human suffering.
Father Pinard fought for decades to bring hope and love of God to the people of Rwanda. Even in the face of other recent shootings he did not abandon his parishioners. He served them to the very end and this will not be forgotten by Canadians.
On behalf of the Reform Party it is a pleasure to respond to the minister's statement on International Development Week 1997. For decades Canadians have made a great contribution in the area of international development. Thousands have volunteered their time and millions have donated money to aid the cause.
Given this commitment by Canadians, it is also important that the federal government do its part and support the priorities of grassroots Canadians by matching the contributions raised privately by non-governmental organizations and church groups. I believe that Canadians prefer this approach rather than spending large amounts of aid dollars on government to government handouts. By working with grassroots organizations our aid dollars will more effectively help the world's poorest people by providing for basic human needs such as primary education, basic health care and sanitation. Canada will help to bring an end to the cycle of poverty and dependency that is common in many parts of the developing world. This is a worthy goal.
In addition since the minister mentioned human rights, I would argue that his government should act, not just simply talk. When Reformers consulted our grassroots membership on this topic at Assembly 96, they voted overwhelmingly to oppose giving foreign aid to governments that abuse basic human rights. This is a good idea and I am sure that most Canadians would agree with it.
Canadians have already done a great deal to foster international development but we can do better. We can make sure that our shrinking aid budget is spent more effectively and we can expect greater accountability for that spending from CIDA which should be given a true legislative mandate. If we do all this, then our development program will be on track for the 21st century.