Mr. Speaker, International Development Week gives me an opportunity, as the Bloc Quebecois critic for international co-operation, to recognize the outstanding contribution of non-governmental organizations in this area. Efforts made here and abroad, in the north as well as in the south, to promote sustainable development deserve to be recognized and encouraged.
Over the years, Canada has established a very good reputation in development thanks mainly to the excellent work of our nameless ambassadors who sometimes put their life on the line like Father Pinard did.
Unfortunately, the official development assistance budget has been cut by 28 percent over four years, including the cuts that will be made during the present fiscal year. We have to confess that the present Canadian foreign policy emphasizes trade and not co-operation. Moreover it is ironic that the minister should talk about public education activities during this week, when CIDA has cut by 100 percent the subsidies to NGOs whose mandate it was in the public participation program.
Since the international cooperation minister urges us to think about international development issues, I am taking this opportunity to emphasize that the level of poverty throughout the world is rising, as mentioned in the report of the UN development program made public last October. Sustainable development is the very basis of a lasting solution for millions of people. Let us keep that in mind, especially during this week.