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.

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The Doctrine in Action

by matttbastard

Hooray for shock therapy in Afghanistan:

Senior British, US and local aid workers have described a number of problems [with reconstruction in Afghanistan] including bribery, profiteering, poor planning and incompetence. The overall effect has been to cripple the development effort structured under the Bush administration’s insistence on an unregulated and profit-driven approach to reconstruction.

“The major donor agencies operate on the mistaken assumption that it’s more efficient and profitable to do things through market mechanisms,” a senior American contractor working in Afghanistan told the Guardian on condition of anonymity. “The notion of big government is a spectre for American conservatives and this [the reconstruction process] is an American conservative project.”

The contractor said the “original plan was to get in, prop up Karzai, kill al-Qaida, privatise all government-owned enterprises and get out. It wasn’t a development project, that wasn’t a concern. Development was an afterthought.

The Graun calls this “poor planning and incompetence.”  Sorry, but “an unregulated and profit-driven approach to reconstruction” may be indeed reflect willful indifference and a shoddy understanding of what proper reconstruction of a failed state actually entails.   But it goes well beyond ‘poor planning and incompetence;’  This is outright criminal negligence on the part of pathologically obsessive free-market ideologues who didn’t give a good goddamn about cleaning up the mess they made.

In other words, textbook disaster capitalism.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Maude Barlow: “This is the most important human rights and ecological crisis of our time.”

by matttbastard

The December issue of that other venerable American left-wing periodical, The Progressive, features an interview with Council of Canadians national chairperson and water rights advocate Maude Barlow, in which the future of fresh drinking water is discussed in depth.  Barlow says access to clean water is “the most important human rights and ecological crisis of our time,” an assertion that’s hard to dispute after reading her sobering, well-reasoned and highly-detailed outline of what’s in store over the coming decades for both the Global North and South.  As Barlow contends, “[t]his crisis isn’t getting better; it’s getting worse.”

Some highlights:

Close to two billion people are now without adequate access to clean water, and most are living in the Global South. We in the Global North need to remember there is a Global South right here in our countries. The more water costs and the rarer it becomes and the more it’s owned by corporations, the more it’s going to be an issue of equity in our countries.

[…]

More children die every day of dirty water than HIV-AIDS, malaria, traffic accidents, and war put together. Half the hospital beds in the world are filled with people who would not be there if they could afford water. You go to many countries, and you will see the majority of people having no access to water and the wealthy having access to all the water they could ever want. It’s privatized. Sometimes it has to be trucked in. It’s all provided by corporations.

Water has become the most important symbol of inequity and injustice in our world, because you die from a lack of water. You may not die from a lack of education, but you will immediately die from a lack of clean drinking water.

[…]

We put something like 200 billion liters of water in plastic last year. That’s about 50 billion U.S. gallons. And 95 percent of that just ends up in landfills and is thrown into waterways. It’s not recycled.
The other thing about bottled water that gets overlooked is that when you decide to use bottled water as your water source because you’re rich enough to be able to do it, you stop caring what comes out of the tap. It’s the true privatization of water. If you stop caring what comes out of the tap, you’re going to stop wanting to pay taxes for infrastructure repair. You don’t care anymore because you don’t drink that stuff since you don’t trust it. And you’re not going to worry about whether it’s clean enough for poor people, because you’ve got your bottled water. It is really becoming a class issue, this notion of bottled water, being able to distance yourself from what we all need to have as a basic, fundamental human right and public service, which is good, clean water, guaranteed clean by our government.

[…]

There is a wonderful water justice movement here in the United States and around the world. We call ourselves Water Warriors. And we’ve taken the time to create a set of principles upon which we agree. We basically agree, for instance, that if you ask the question who owns water, we will say, “Nobody owns it. It belongs to the Earth, it belongs to all species, it belongs to future generations. It’s a fundamental human right and a public service and a public trust.”

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers