OECD crit­i­cizes Canada for cut­ting for­eign aid

The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) - - NEWS - AFRICA BUREAU CHIEF JO­HAN­NES­BURG

Re­port seen as a pos­si­ble blow to Ot­tawa’s goal of a seat on the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil

Even as Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau es­ca­lates his cam­paign for a Cana­dian seat at the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, a new in­ter­na­tional re­port has warned that his record on for­eign aid spend­ing is weaker than that of his pre­de­ces­sor.

Mr. Trudeau’s lat­est prom­ise of an ex­tra $2-bil­lion for for­eign aid over the next five years will fail to re­store Ot­tawa’s aid spend­ing to where it was in 2012 un­der the govern­ment of for­mer prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper, ac­cord­ing to the re­port by the Paris-based Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment.

“Canada needs to in­crease for­eign aid flows in line with its re­newed en­gage­ment,” the OECD said on Fri­day as it re­leased the re­port by its de­vel­op­ment-as­sis­tance com­mit­tee.

“It is im­por­tant to now set out a path to in­crease aid vol­umes to add weight to Canada’s global ad­vo­cacy role,” said a state­ment by the com­mit­tee’s chair, Char­lotte Petri Gor­nitzka.

The re­port is sure to be no­ticed by many of the African and Asian coun­tries whose votes Canada would need in its bid for a tem­po­rary seat on the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Later this month, as part of his cam­paign, Mr. Trudeau will be pro­mot­ing Canada’s record on the UN de­vel­op­ment goals at a high-level event in New York, just be­fore the open­ing of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly.

Un­der the Trudeau govern­ment, Canada’s of­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment aid has de­clined to 0.26 per cent of gross na­tional in­come, com­pared with 0.31 per cent in 2012 un­der the Harper govern­ment, the OECD re­port said. Aid spend­ing as a share of na­tional in­come was re­duced even though Canada was en­joy­ing “ro­bust eco­nomic growth,” it said.

Canada’s new aid level is far be­low the in­ter­na­tion­ally agreed tar­get of 0.7 per cent, but it is also be­low the av­er­age aid lev­els of all donor coun­tries in the OECD de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee, the re­port said. The av­er­age among those coun­tries is 0.32 per cent of gross na­tional in­come, and five of its donor coun­tries have reached the tar­get of 0.7 per cent.

Canada should “in­tro­duce an am­bi­tious tar­get” to boost its aid spend­ing as a share of na­tional in­come, the re­port said.

Af­ter promis­ing in the last fed­eral elec­tion to bring Canada back into a stronger en­gage­ment with the UN and other mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions, Mr. Trudeau an­nounced that Canada will run for one of the 10 ro­tat­ing tem­po­rary seats on the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in 2021-22.

Stephen Brown, a Cana­dian aid ex­pert who is cur­rently at the Nether­lands In­sti­tute for Ad­vanced Study in Am­s­ter­dam, said the OECD re­port is fur­ther ev­i­dence that other donor coun­tries see Mr. Trudeau’s per­for­mance on for­eign aid as “very dis­ap­point­ing” in com­par­i­son with pre­vi­ous Cana­dian gov­ern­ments and in com­par­i­son with Canada’s peers in the donor com­mu­nity.

“To them, this re­ally stands out as one of Canada’s big­gest fail­ings, and one of the ar­eas in which Canada com­pletely ig­nored the rec­om­men­da­tions of the last re­view in 2012,” Mr. Brown told The Globe and Mail in an in­ter­view on Fri­day.

In a re­cent re­port, he es­ti­mated that the Trudeau govern­ment’s spend­ing on for­eign aid as a share of na­tional in­come is lower than any fed­eral govern­ment in sev­eral decades. By this mea­sure of aid per- for­mance, it has been “the worst govern­ment in a gen­er­a­tion,” he said in the in­ter­view.

Robert Green­hill, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Agency, tweeted that the OECD re­port is ques­tion­ing the gap be­tween Cana­dian rhetoric and Cana­dian aid re­sources.

The OECD con­ducts re­views of the for­eign-aid per­for­mance of each of its de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee mem­bers ev­ery five years. The lat­est re­view, re­leased on Fri­day, com­pares Canada’s record in 2017 with its record in the pre­vi­ous re­view in 2012.

While crit­i­ciz­ing Canada’s aid lev­els, the re­view praised Canada’s per­for­mance on many other aid is­sues. It said, for ex­am­ple, that the Trudeau govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to cre­ate a new Global Af­fairs depart­ment to co-or­di­nate trade and aid poli­cies has made Canada’s for­eign pol­icy more co­her­ent.

The re­view praised the govern­ment for “step­ping up its global lead­er­ship” on sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, for its “re­spon­sive and in­no­va­tive” aid poli­cies, for its strong hu­man­i­tar­ian aid per­for­mance, and for creat­ing a new fem­i­nist in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance pol­icy, in­clud­ing a com­mit­ment to pro­mot­ing gen­der equal­ity.

The re­view found that the govern­ment in­creased its spend­ing on re­set­tling refugees within Canada by 89 per cent in 2016 with­out di­vert­ing funds from ex­ist­ing aid com­mit­ments.

But the govern­ment fell far short of its goal of di­rect­ing 90 per cent of its bi­lat­eral aid to 25 pri­or­ity coun­tries, the re­view said.

Linda Duncan, the NDP critic for in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment, said the re­view was a “call to ac­tion” for the govern­ment. “The Lib­eral govern­ment must in­crease of­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance (ODA) to meet their own rhetoric of re­newed en­gage­ment in in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment, as well as in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted targets.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.