The Real Bev Oda Scandal: Politicizing (& Corporatizing) Canadian Foreign Aid

That now-infamous taxpayer-subsidized luxury hotel switcheroo in Mother London? Small potatoes.

Don Cayo:

[A]nalysis by Fraser Reilly-King, a policy analyst at the non-profit Canadian Council for International Co-operation, shows substantial cuts to foreign aid in last month’s federal budget are aimed mainly at the same kind of underprivileged countries [that were removed from CIDA’s priority list in 2009] – the poorest places in the world. And funds for the better-off political darlings are mostly protected.

Reilly-King’s figures project, starting next year, a winnowing-away of funds for inter-national assistance from an all-time peak of $5 billion this year to $4.6 billion in 2014-15. Over the same period, the share of Gross National Income that Canada spends on aid will shrink to 0.25 per cent from 0.34 per cent, which is less than half the never-attained target set by former prime minister Lester Pearson in 1969.

Wait — it gets better:

The cuts will be felt by 13 cur-rent recipients, he says, eight of them in Africa. One of the countries to be cut off completely is China, a fully justified – if not overdue – move given its rapid economic expansion. But the others to lose out completely include Cambodia and Nepal, which are making progress but were late in catching the Asian prosperity wave, as well as dirt-poor Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Niger.

Yet Ukraine – which has been a priority country for years only because of strong lobbying by Canadians of Ukrainian descent – and fast-rising, upper-middle-income Peru and Colombia are unaffected.

Other countries to duck the axe are Bangladesh, which is very poor, and Vietnam and Indonesia, which are both making rapid progress on their own. Reilly-King points out all the unaffected countries are high on the Harper government’s list of places where it wants to see stronger trade ties.

There’s brazen, and brazen — Oda, proud Harpercon that she is, certainly earns the italicization (and then some):

In an interview with my Post- media colleague Elizabeth Payne earlier this year, Oda candidly conceded that she didn’t separate at all Canadian trade and foreign policy goals from our aid policy.

She also confirmed that CIDA, which has been moving away from its well-established, long-term partnerships with trusted and respected NGOs in the field, is moving more and more to partnerships with private sector partners in the mining and agricultural sectors.

Shorter Bev Oda: Let them eat little cakes — ooh, and freshen up my OJ while you’re at it!

h/t

Related:  More from CBC’s The Current on the debate over CIDA partnerships.

Still Vigorously Committed to our Commitments

by matttbastard

bev-oda-cake.jpg

Uncompensated Jos Louis pitchwoman Bev Oda appears to be auditioning for a feature role in the next installment of Fern’s “Women and Girls” series:

Carole MacNeil: Okay, some people see this move [sentencing Afghan journalism student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh to death, purportedly for downloading an essay on women’s rights] as part of a pattern of clawing back democracy and clawing back human rights in Afghanistan, how do you see it?

Bev Oda: Well, no, I totally disagree. I think we’ve made great strides in providing greater rights to the ah, afghan people. We’ve enabled certainly in the area for women Afghanistan the women previously had no rights. They had no rights under the law. They had no right to human rights. They had no right to education. They had no right to employment. They had no right to mobility outside of their home unescorted. They had no rights to take part in a democratic process or to take part in their government.

Bev Oda: Today we see women and girls going to school. We see them out, being employed. We see them taking part in the economic world of Afghanistan. We see them actually voting in the election and 23 per cent of them are now members of their parliament.

Carole MacNeil: I was talking to Adina Neyazi who is the founder of the Afghan Women’s Organization. She used to be a lecturer in Kabul and she’s worked in some of the underground schools and what not during the time of the Taliban. And she says, you know, that in many cases what the government’s are doing is a showcase really. That, you know, every 30 minutes an Afghan women dies, 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate. She said there are still forced marriages. She said sometimes these kids are going to school and they get acid thrown in their faces, that the schools are under attack constantly. So she says that the status of women in Afghanistan – and I talked to the brother of the gentlemen who’s been scheduled or sentenced to execution, and he said the status of women in Afghanistan is terrible—

Bev Oda: Well, we agree that there’s so much more to do. We’ve made great strides so far. We have a lot more to do, we’ve ah, that’s why we are enhancing our program. We’re gonna be looking at new programs to address violence against women. We’re continue support civil society group there that are working on behalf of the afghan women. But the fact is is that they have made great strides, they know that ah…I was there myself, I saw girls walking to school, I met women who have their own stalls in the bazaars who are now engaging and making a living for themselves. They’re taking literacy courses and the better educated they become….so we are making great strides but there is a lot more to do and that’s why this government believes we have to stay in Afghanistan to complete the work-job we started.

Carole MacNeil: How concerned are you that the rights of women in Afghanistan are not a priority of the Karzai government? That, as it makes deals with the warlords to share power, that the rights of women will be the first thing to go.

Bev Oda: Well, you know, I think the thing is, I disagree. The rights of the women are a part of the Karzai government’s strategy and plans that’s why they have a minister for women within their government. That’s why the local (inaudible) the, include women. The local councils. Many of the local council’s have women participating there. The Karzai government, as I indicated has many women who are not only ministers but are representative of the government. So, I disagree with you. I believe and I know that there are actually looking forward to celebrating the international women’s day along with the other countries around the world.

Carole MacNeil: Um, Ms. Oda, just one final question the, ah, this case with the journalist just downloading a document that suggests women be equal to men and then you know the most prominent female MP Malalai Joya being suspended for criticising her male collegues. I mean, what does that say to you?

Bev Oda: It suggests that there’s still more work to be done and that’s why we continue to work with the people in Afghanistan as well as the government in Afghanistan. We express our concerns when it’s justified. We do it vigorously. And at the same time we’re working with the women at the grassroots, in their communities and their villages, and I’m also working with the minister for women in Afghanistan so we’re working on all fronts.

Carole MacNeil: Um, what does vigorously mean, compared to non-vigorously?

Bev Oda: Well, it means that as you know Afghanistan is one of this government’s primary missions that we’re addressing and we understand that we have made a commitment and you have to be ah, focused on that commitment, you have to be committed to the commitment and that’s why we want to ensure that we have a full public debate about our Afghan mission because there is success being achieved and we know that we can move the betterment of the lives for Afghan people even further.

“Committed to the commitment”–buh?! Apparently the Minister of International Cooperation still “can’t say whether they’re right or they’re wrong”, nor much of anything that might deviate from the Stephen Harper Party’s vain ‘stay the course’ script. Would someone explain to me how she’s managed to score multiple cabinet appointments (rhetorical question, natch)?

Sweet Jesus, I hate Bev Oda (and her little cakes, too).

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“Thank you for your work…and little cakes for you.”

by matttbastard

Hard to draw any other conclusion: Harper has handed the vital Afghanistan portfolio to bumbling incompetents and set them loose on the public – without first having them do their homework. Apparently, as Impolitical bluntly puts it, “the Harper government thinks we’re idiots [emph. added].” Forget lemons into lemonade; Bernier and Oda are trying to turn horse dung into snack cakes (yum yum!)

And Coderre is supposed to be the one engaging in superficial political theatre?!

Update: Steve V. has more on Conservative theatrics and hypocrisy.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Of ‘Political Stunts’ And Squeezing Lemons

by mattbastard

I’m certainly no fan of Jack Layton, but methinks that Steve V. is being too hasty by assuming that the Canadian Press included a full and accurate quote of the NDP leader’s comments re: Liberal Defence Critic Denis Coderre’s unofficial trip to Afghanistan. [Update 10.07 10pm EDT: Jack Layton was quoted accurately. Layton was even asked if he thought the refusal was out of fear that Coderre would ‘upstage’  Bernier and Oda, but deferred from answering, instead claiming he didn’t wish to speculate – mb] That said, I agree with (*gasp*) Don Martin (phew, the universe didn’t implode*exhales*):

It should…be noted Mr. Coderre is among the greatest of all parliamentary publicity hogs, a man who would walk through Taliban headquarters wrapped in an American flag if there was a media scrum on the other side.

But he does serve as official Opposition defence critic and is a member of the Privy Council. As such, Mr. Coderre has a lot to learn about Canada’s most important military mission in 50 years which, in my view, legitimizes a first-hand look at a mission his party hopes to disband in just 16 months.

[…]

It seems only fair that Mr. Bernier [have found] a seat for his official critic on the government plane. The Afghanistan deployment is clearly the defence decision of the decade, if not the last 50 years, and non-partisan eyewitness input can be useful.

Regardless, I think we can all agree that this has to unequivocally rank as one of the most asinine spin-doctoring jobs by a Conservative this year:

According to the Canadian Press, International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda went before skeptical Afghan journalists and said roadside and suicide bombings indicate that the insurgents have made a shift in tactics. She said that shows the success of the NATO mission.

Oda said that she spoke with senior Afghan officials and they “identified that the difference in the challenge in Kandahar today can be seen as, to a certain extent, success.’

Oda said that such that although suicide bombings and roadside bombings were common in southern parts of the country, their shift to the capital shows that insurgents have become desperate.

Yes, it’s quite evident how a similar “desperate” tactical shift several years back has improved the security situation in Iraq. Takes a lot of chutzpah to try and portray the import of asymmetrical guerrilla tactics as a positive development (mmm, tasty lemonade!)

[mb: edited to add Martin quote, which, for whatever reason, disappeared during the initial proofreading stage. Oops.]

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers