Dropping CIDA reveals truth about Canadian 'aid'

| March 25, 2013
Dropping CIDA reveals truth about Canadian 'aid'

On March 21, the Conservative government announced an effective merger of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as part of the proposed 2013 Federal Budget. Let us remember this day as the day the Conservative government set "aid" free!

Leaving aside the fact the CIDA was already under the umbrella of the DFAIT, namely through the Minister of International Cooperation, this recent announcement marks a considerable shift. No longer will Canadian "aid" be tainted with government-professed altruistic pretences. At last, self-interested politics will unabashedly reign free and no longer need to hide behind contrived notions of international solidarity.

 On top of that, let's not leave out the avoided headaches from trying to figure out why, even with billion dollar "aid" budgets, is there no country in the world that we can look to as a poster child that evidences a positive correlation between the amount of "aid" received and considerable improvement of socio-economic indices.

For once (and hopefully for all), Canadian "aid" will fully shed itself of its cumbersome rhetorical shell and reveal its naked core: the promotion of national interest. Full stop.

Although the nucleus of "aid" has somewhat been discernible from inception, the task of clarifying this ambiguity has been willingly taken on by the Harper Tories. It started gradually circa 2007, with talks of the agency increasingly funnelling its initiatives through a structure that gave an unprecedented role to Canadian corporations, mainly mining companies, in international cooperation. Furthermore, this trend continued through a cutting of funding to NGOs that didn't reap in clear economic gains for the country, and that, to their detriment favoured long-term, structural change.

I can already hear echoes from the disgruntled international volunteers: "But like, aid helps you know, duh? Are we just supposed to let people die of famine?"

Without getting into the complexity of humanitarian relief and the not-so-intuitive problems that accompany it, let me just state that I am not talking about that type of "aid," for now.

I'm talking about the economic development "aid," the growth "aid," the money "aid." The "aid" that translates into lucrative contracts for Canadian multinationals in countries of the South; the "aid" that is not meant to phase out; the "aid" that becomes intertwined with the economic culture of the countries of the Global South; the "aid" that brings in plenty-fold the amounts "given" and that reverses the purported North-South flow of resources.

"Aid" is a misnomer and this fact has allowed it to escape critical evaluation in far too many instances.

I commend the government for having taken a step in the right direction by deciding to put an end to the deceitfulness of conventional notions of "aid." I hope that Harper's Tories will not stop at this commendable move but go a step further by dropping the word "aid" altogether, and simply call it what it is: investment.

More countries need to follow the leadership of Canada on this matter and declare once and for all that government-dependent "aid," my friends, is not at all about charity, but serves first and foremost the aim of bolstering the interests of the donor country.

I welcome this change in direction towards blunt honesty.

 

Nydia Dauphin is a sustainable food policy and consumer awareness advocate. 

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Comments

You're right that aid is a misnomer.  But giving any congratulations to the Tories about this shift is foolish.  They will continue to shift money to corporations to pillage and plunder developing nations.  But its just under a different name.

 If you seriously think these policies and practices can and should be labeled 'investment' then I think you need to move away from consumer advocacy for a moment and educate yourself about foreign policy.  I recommend you start with the history of Canada's involvement in Haiti.  Look up Canadian counter-insurgency practices in Haiti.  Our country (and the US, France, Brazil, Nepal, and many others)owe ALOT to the Haitian people.  After presenting your 'opinion' here I think you owe alot to the Haitian people.  Stop perpetuating the guise that Canada was ever investing in any developing nation.  Its about continuing the funnelling of our taxes to the corporations to continue to pillage and plunder developing nations but simply calling it something else.  And last time I checked, one calls this genocide, not investment.

@healthycanadian

You're way out of line here. You've extended the article's basic argument beyond it's reasonable limit and revealed yourself to be an intellectually inept ideological dupe. There's no praise in this article (stated or implied) for shifting money to corporations to pillage and plunder developing nations. Wade through the intellectual smog that clouds your reading of this piece and see it for what it is: a backhanded compliment grounded in irony and lined with a critique of the international aid system writ large.

Your failure to grapple squarely with the article itself, and your choice to rely instead on cowardly ad hominem swipes is deeply suggestive of your inability to meet and challenge the article and its ideas on its own terms.

Instead of attempting to bring the piece down to a level of your own sophistication, why not engage the piece by offering some sort of meaningful comment that demonstrates a reasonable comprehension of not only the article's ironic thrust, but also by offering some contributive thought on what the piece says about the failures of international aid.

I was at first confused by your references to Haiti and Haitian people in your comment, healthycanadian. But I now understand your sour motives. 

By what authority do you feel yourself so qualified to attempt to educate or inform a Haitian person, let alone one of the author's academic pedigree, on their own peoples' (Haitian and Canadian) geo-political history. Do you know the article's author personally? Even if you do, your insidious comment wreaks of childish animus. It seems quite certain though that you do not know the author. Either way. you have demonstrated no legitimate basis on which to offer the author reccommended readings or make declarations about what she does or does not know or what she needs to look up. And you absolutely have no defensible grounds to comment on to whom she owes anything.

I would also go to the extent of saying that your attempt to "enlighten" the author on her own people on subject matters in which she's obtained degrees is deeply suggestive of an egregious affliction of racial, gender and ageist prejudice. If the author was a Euro/white middle-class male of the same academic pedigree, it's almost sure that you would not question the author's credentials to the point of needing to search beyond the page of this single article. Rather, you'd assume her to be authoritative prima facially. And if she, the author. were a Euro/white middle-class male of the same academic pedigree, you almost certainly would not be so crude as to use what you've found elsewhere to lace your comment with ad hominem invective lined with outlandish presumptions about the personal attributes and the knowledge possessed by the author. And even if you did have this inclination if the author was as described, you would not be so boldfaced as to post such comments for the world to see and effectively offer a public challenge of her credibility. 

Even if, healthycanadian, you are a young woman of colour, that in and of itself is no defence for the racial, gender and ageist and baseless bile that is your comment.     

Engage not the author, but the article on its own terms at its own level of sophistication. Otherwise you offer nothing to advance the discussion on these very important and pressing issues.

You have also demonstrated yourself exceedingly in need of ant-oppression training, stat! 

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