Foreign Aid

Do Liberals have a foreign aid strategy?

Is there a coherent foreign policy strategy behind the huge sums of money the Trudeau administration has been quick to pledge in foreign aid spending since taking office or is the government’s foreign aid focus more a reactionary stance to what the Conservatives did or did not do?

By Levon Sevunts, Radio Canada International, December 27, 2015

“The sense that I’m getting there really is no overall strategy to link the different projects but a clear effort to distinguish this government from the previous government,” said Philip Oxhorn, professor of political science at McGill University and founding director of the Institute for the Study of International Development.

The Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has come out with a flurry of foreign aid announcements recently: $10 million to help developing countries implement the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), $30 million to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia, $13.6 million to the Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support project, $15 million for small and medium-sized businesses in Tanzania, and $19.5 million to train small business owners in neighbouring Kenya, and so on.

That’s in addition to $2.65 billion the Liberals have pledged to help developing countries tackle climate change.

It looks very impressive, but is there an underlying strategy behind all these announcements? To find out I called Philip Oxhorn, professor of political science at McGill University and founding director of the Institute for the Study of International Development.

(click to listen to the interview with Prof Philip Oxhorn)

Listen

The entire strategy of the new Trudeau government in foreign aid and international relations seems to be that the Liberals are simply trying to distinguish themselves from what the previous government did, Oxhorn said.

“I don’t think the government has had the opportunity to really think through what it would do differently,” Oxhorn said. “Sometimes big policy pronouncements are being made without any clear sense where they fit into an overall framework.”

One of the examples that comes up most during his meetings with civil servants is the Liberal commitment dealing with climate change, he said, referring to the $2.65 billion pledge.

Continue reading at the publisher’s website

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