Thursday’s announcement that the Canadian International Development Agency will be folded into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade leaves critical questions about Canada’s aid policy unanswered.
First, regardless of whether aid policy is run from CIDA or a new mega-ministry, will our development spending prioritize the reduction of poverty or the promotion of Canadian commercial interests? Ottawa has recently pushed for the latter. In November, International Development Minister Julian Fantino signalled that Canadian aid policy would place greater emphasis on partnerships with the private sector and working to promote Canadian interests abroad.
There is nothing wrong with public-private partnerships in development. On the contrary, creating conditions for sustainable, market-driven growth in developing societies seems to be the single best remedy for poverty. Whether such partnerships should be geared towards advancing Canadian commercial interests...
It was fitting that last weekend’s international donors’ conference on Afghanistan took place in Tokyo: The event resembled the city’s famous kabuki theatre, with its ritualized drama of grand gestures and hidden meanings.
The centrepiece of the meeting was a pledge by donors, including Canada, for $16-billion in development aid to Afghanistan over the next four years in exchange for the Kabul government’s commitment to fight corruption, among other things.
In fact, there is virtually no chance that the Afghan government will tackle corruption – and everyone knows it. President Hamid Karzai has made similar commitments for years, yet not a single high-level official has been convicted for graft, in a country whose public sector ranks as the third-most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International.
The unspoken reality is that the United States, which drives international policy on Afghanistan, appears to have resigned itself to this kleptocracy. Back in...