Friday, April 03, 2009

Canada Turns Its Back

Read this article in today's Globe & Mail (follow the link for the complete story.)

Although International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda says the government's recently announced foreign-aid realignment will continue to support people in greatest need, finite development resources are being shifted to better-off countries with a bigger trading potential to reinforce Ottawa's preferred focus on Latin America.This new policy abandons Canada's traditional emphasis on reducing poverty in the world's poorest countries, notably in Africa. It will hurt some of the world's most needy people and diminish Canada's stature in the developing world. According to the announcement, eight African countries have been removed from the list of priority recipients of Canadian aid: The losers are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda and Zambia. They have been replaced by Colombia, Peru and the Caribbean, middle-income countries with whom Canada has entered into or is negotiating free-trade agreements.

The new policy has understandably dismayed representatives of the countries diminished by the new thrust. They had been given no hint by Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon when he met the heads of African missions in Canada a month before Ms. Oda's announcement. His commitment to the group that Canada would continue to be an active development partner with Africa now has a hollow ring.

This is unconscionable. Aid should go to those who need it most. Not where it is politically expedient.

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