Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to the budget. My colleagues expressed their views on the shortfall of the budget. I am the official opposition critic for international co-operation and I will restrict my remarks to international development.
The budget would commit over $1 billion over three years to international development. In the post-September 11 world there is a growing consensus that Canada must do more to promote broad trade, economic growth and the alleviation of suffering in the developing world. Under the Liberal government Canada's commitment to the developing world has dropped below our capacity to help.
Nevertheless, and I want to make this point very clear, we cannot increase Canada's capacity by spending more money. There are other means and I will allude to how we can help. Simply spending more money is not the answer to the problem.
CIDA has only had marginal success over the past 20 to 25 years. I have talked to CIDA officials and the ministers on many occasions. I asked them to name one country where CIDA had success in eliminating poverty in the last 20 to 25 years. They could not. I will tell members why in due course.
CIDA is an agency that has been the subject of criticism by the auditor general and, most important, subjected to political interference. The last occurrence alleges that CIDA funds were being diverted to the minister's campaign workers.
The minister is now involved in political turmoil due to questionable activities in her riding that have broken her trust with Canadians. She cannot go around the world any longer preaching good governance to other countries because of her own inability to hold to the high standards of her office.
We have an agency led by a minister whose credibility is in question by both Canadians and our international friends. In what kind of direction can we expect her to lead this agency? CIDA is an agency that currently receives $2.2 billion. That is not small, loose change. The budget proposes an additional $1 billion within three years.
The Canadian Alliance policy would ensure that our foreign aid met value for money criteria. The government must launch a new international development white paper process and repriorize CIDA funding before any more money is given to CIDA or to international development.
I am calling for a white paper because there are a lot of issues on the international development table that could be addressed. If these issues were addressed properly they would help third world countries alleviate poverty and would allow them the opportunity for further economic development for their citizens. Throwing money out without a proper plan will help no one.
I specifically direct the attention of members to the so-called Africa fund where $500 million has been earmarked by the Prime Minister. What will the government do with the $500 million in this trust fund? Where will it go? Who will it help? How will it help?
There is no plan. It is the Prime Minister's pet project. He is having the G-8 summit meeting in Kananaskis so he said he would put $500 million into the fund.
He told bureaucrats to go and sharpen their pencils and see how the money would be spent. There was absolutely no plan. The CIDA minister said she had done the consultation process but it was not a comprehensive plan. In looking at the white paper and the consultation process she left out many vital areas which needed to be addressed to eliminate poverty.
Two days ago there was a meeting of the foreign affairs committee. I asked CIDA officials how much money had been allocated to capacity building that everybody was talking about. The trade minister, the foreign minister, everybody was talking about capacity building. It has become a nice big buzzword because of the trade agreements. However when I asked CIDA officials how much was available for capacity building they did not have a clue. They did not know how much they had committed.
We have a problem. We have $2.2 billion being given to an agency that does not have a long term plan because it is subject to political interference. It gets a cheque but only thinks later how it will spend the money. This is why the Canadian Alliance has difficulty in agreeing to an increase in foreign aid.
The Canadian Alliance has a way to help and assist developing countries. Developing countries do not need more money. They need more opportunities. Let us open opportunities to them so they can take part, develop and bring prosperity to their citizens.
First, let us untie aid. The government should totally commit to the multilateral untying of aid to ensure value for taxpayer money. It is estimated that 25% of tied aid is totally wasted. We could save $200 million of CIDA's projects if we untied aid. Practically every other country in the world has recognized that it is a waste of taxpayer money and has untied aid in order to help. Imagine, there is $200 million out there.
Second, let us focus on fewer countries that need the most assistance and not spread it among 134 countries that receive CIDA money in small pockets, which helps nobody. Right now we are giving money to China which has an 8% growth rate and we are giving less money to sub-Saharan countries that require more money.
It is time for us to change and to focus. We must be able to identify countries in the world we assisted that have shown economic growth and could be used as role models for additional aid elsewhere. That has not happened at all.
Third, there is a need for open trade access. Wherever I travel open trade access is asked for because when we open trade access to developing countries they can do the right thing. They are then able to access trade markets, become part of the globalized world and help their citizens do business. This would trickle down to the economically poor citizenry. The most important point is that when we give government to government aid it does not trickle down to the poor people, but when we give trade access it has a trickle down effect.
Fourth, there should be enhanced response for humanitarian crises. Fifth, we should activate charity giving. Canadians should give money to those people. Canadians have the heart to give. Let them be out there assisting those countries.
The business of raising $1 billion without a plan is a total waste of money. The Canadian Alliance does not feel this is the right approach and hence that is why we oppose the increase.