Mr. Speaker, on June 1 before Parliament rose for the summer, I asked a question of the CIDA minister as to the funding with respect to CCIC and the minister said at the time that it was still under review. That is political speak around here for it is dead in the water. Already that decision had been taken. The drill question was when was it going to be executed.
As it turned out, a mere few weeks later while Parliament had risen and we were all off on summer vacation, the axe did fall on CCIC, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. It is probably one of the most respected organizations in Canada, if not in the world, with respect to advocacy and with respect to research. Its research has been cited by numerous organizations around the world and 90 to 100 NGOs in this country depend upon both its research and its advocacy because it is a perfectly sensible thing.
Providing aid in this world is a complex and difficult undertaking. Therefore, we want to spend both the donor dollars and the government dollars as well as we possibly can. CCIC provided that very valuable service. It had been providing that very valuable service of research and advocacy for the last 30 years so that these 90 to 100 organizations did not have to have their own little shops to do it.
The budget cut was $1.8 million, which is not a huge sum of money in the way the Conservatives government spends money, and it constituted over two-thirds of its budget.
CCIC knew the jig was up when it submitted request after request and it was told by staff that it is on the minister's desk. That also is political speak around here for it is also dead in the water.
Here we have it. A valuable organization that has been in existence for 30 years, that has a funding relationship going back all those years with various governments of Canada, of both the Conservative and Liberal stripe, is about to be axed and it is only a question of when.
I want to make the point that was made in an article with respect to CCIC. The headline is “Another critical group feels Ottawa's axe”. It is an article by Brian Stewart regarding CCIC about a week after the axe did fall. He writes:
Foreign assistance is not just a matter of delivering help. It's also a highly complex matter of getting it right, if possible, through study, research, the exchange of ideas, co-ordination of plans, and, yes, open debate and criticism.
I know that is a foreign concept across the aisle. He continues:
This is the area the CCIC excelled in. It played a leadership role and set high standards.
The question remains that CCIC funding was cut in fact because its criticism was a little too pointed. The government does not like to hear from the other side. It certainly does not want to hear the message and it certainly does not want to hear any message that is contrary to the propaganda put out by the other side.
May I end with the real reason that this organization was cut out of its funding.
For years, Barr and the CCIC have argued that CIDA's chronic attention-deficit disorder makes programming impossible when “based on themes that may have a half-life of six months.”
“It's like planning next year's crop on the strength of this afternoon's weather”, Barr says.