Hélène Laverdière vs. Julian Fantino

The NDP’s International Cooperation critic explains her concerns with some of CIDA’s recent moves.

Economic growth is essential for sustainable poverty reduction. But not all economic growth is sustainable or leads to sustainable poverty reduction. The private sector can contribute to international development, but we are deeply concerned by the approach the Conservative government is taking to its public-private partnerships. CIDA’s focus should be creating the best conditions for development for local communities, not for Canadian industry. It matters who is in the driver’s seat. Unlike Minister Fantino, we do not think extractive industries are the most appropriate partners for our aid agency … 

With Minister Fantino’s recent announcement, CIDA is straying away from what was once a clear and coherent vision for development assistance. While the private sector can play a role in development, CIDA’s objective should not be to open new markets for Canadian businesses abroad. That is the mandate of the International Trade department. It is time for Minister Fantino to learn his file and assume real responsibility for Canada’s development agenda.

Julian Fantino, the minister for international cooperation, responds (and manages to get a carbon tax reference into the second sentence).

I am also proud to say that CIDA works with the extractive sector to ensure it is transparent, accountable, sustainable and maximizes local benefits. The fact is that constructive NGOs understand this direction. They are working with us towards these objectives and are achieving meaningful results. CIDA’s collaboration with Plan Canada and IAMGOLD, for example, will train 10,000 youth in 13 communities of Burkina Faso so they can compete for higher paying jobs in their communities.

Development is not about dependency; it is about helping those in need get a leg up so they can prosper. This is a concept that the tax-and-spend NDP fundamentally do not understand. While the NDP would prefer to fund endless talk shops, I am committed to ensuring our development assistance is accountable, transparent and results-focused.

See previously: Is this foreign aid?, ‘To the benefit of large corporations’ and ‘I really don’t separate them’