Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and honourable members.
It's an honour to be here before you today. My background is 30 years or so in the Department of Foreign Affairs, largely in the international security field, but I've also spent time in other government departments. I was a consultant for quite a few years. I was vice-president of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. Recently I've been associated with the Conference of Defence Associations Institute. So I hope I bring a broad perspective, both from the public and the private sector, to what I think is a very interesting issue.
My reading of the situation allows me to draw five conclusions. Let me go through them very briefly, and then I'll elaborate.
The first conclusion I draw is that the government intends henceforth that the priority for Canadian aid policy be international development rather than poverty alleviation. International development is a larger concept and it incorporates poverty alleviation, but I think the adjustment is consequential.
Second, we're talking about a construct here that is one department with three business lines, not three departments under a common roof.
Third, if it's to work, they need a common script of some kind. The Government of Canada needs to articulate an international affairs strategy that explains the larger context in which these three business lines are to operate individually and collectively.
Fourth, I know this has been argued, but there's no reason to believe we're talking about a hostile takeover of CIDA by Foreign Affairs. I think there's a great deal for everybody in this, and I don't think that taking an unnecessarily negative view of it is particularly constructive.
Finally, in the final analysis, and this comes from my consulting experience, people are going to make this work. Structure and reorganization are not going to cut it by itself.
Let me go over those five points very briefly. The transition arrangements outlined in Bill are pretty straightforward, and there's no reason for me to outline those to you today.
What I see, though, in the language is an important refocusing of the aid effort, or at least the $4 billion that has traditionally been CIDA's budget, being cast into a broader international development framework, rather than the more traditional poverty alleviation/poverty reduction vocation that CIDA has aspired to. If you read the CIDA mission statement, if you look at the ODA Accountability Act, you'll see a very strong bias toward poverty alleviation. In this draft bill I see a raising of the issue beyond poverty alleviation to put the focus on a broader international development agenda.
The second point is that what's proposed fundamentally is a repositioning of an important federal asset. CIDA and its highly efficient staff and its very large budget are to be put more at the service of a broader federal international strategy to pursue the foreign relations of Canadians in a broader context.
Let me explain why I think some of the suggestions that I have read about the previous testimony might be just a little off base. As I read the draft legislation, the duties of the Minister of Foreign Affairs have expanded from what they were under the previous Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act. In those previous iterations, the minister's responsibility was to control and supervise CIDA. He or she is now responsible for fostering international development, poverty reduction in developing countries, and humanitarian assistance.
The functions of the minister have gone from supervision and control of an outside entity or an agency to being directly involved in policy and programming. I think these same duties that are now assigned to the Minister of Foreign Affairs are also assigned to the new Minister for International Development, not International Cooperation.
The plain language of the text also indicates that the Minister for International Development and the Minister for International Trade are to assist the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to operate in concurrence with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. So there's no question in my mind of three ministers with equal status. That's reinforced by looking at the duties assigned to the deputies—the same hierarchy emerges from that discussion. So the net effect is one department with one minister and one deputy minister, assisted by other ministers and other deputy ministers.
The third point is, if this is to work, that the government needs to articulate, at least in broad terms, what it's hoping to achieve, not necessarily through the restructuring, but in its international agenda. That articulation has yet to appear in any form other than periodic presentations the Prime Minister might make in a speech to an international gathering.
I don't think this articulation should be a one-time thing. On arriving in office, democratically elected governments are entitled, indeed expected, to lay out their vision for the future. This vision may well differ, in degree or in kind, from that of the predecessor. I think in a democracy that is a good thing. The genius of the democratic process is that the people get to change their mind and change the direction of their country as they wish.
So I'm not advocating one international policy statement forever. I'm advocating the commencement of a practice where new governments lay out their policies. They don't have to do a big policy review every time, but they should at least lay out what they're planning to do.
Why do I not think this is a hostile takeover? First, I don't think CIDA has ever belonged to anybody but the government and the people of Canada. It doesn't belong to the people who work there. Second, I think CIDA has a great deal to gain from this merger. Its budget has grown, but I'm not sure its standing in this country has grown very much over the years, even in Parliament. I think one reason for this has been its tendency to take a view that is rather detached from other things that are going on.
As our colleague Scott Gilmore reported in, I think, Maclean's magazine, he once had a discussion with a CIDA staffer who made the comment: “It may be a government of Canada priority, but it is not a CIDA priority.” It's that kind of mindset that has imbued a lot of CIDA thinking about its place in the larger system.
I think as it moves into the new structure, CIDA rejoins the mainstream. That means it can play in a bigger game and aspire to having a dramatically greater impact in the field that is its business line. I think also the government as a whole wins. We've talked a great deal about 3-D and whole-of-government operations. This proposal helps to knock down the bureaucratic silos that have prevented those aspirations from being realized.
Let me make one point about CIDA's branding and CIDA's persona. I think it would be unfortunate if it disappeared from view. It's brought a lot of credit to Canada over the years. So notwithstanding the restructuring and the merger, I think there's a requirement to look at a way in which CIDA can be branded internationally. At least two examples come to mind: one is USAID, and the other is AusAID. Maybe we should be considering CanAID. It could certainly live under the structure that we're talking about.
Finally, reorganizations are dangerous. They aspire to improving matters, but the disruption they produce and the productivity losses they cause make a shambles of the great majority of reorganizations. In my experience, it's better to give good people licence to get around bad structure than to try to fix the structure. That said, we're proposing a new structure, and I think you have to make sure you have the right people to get the transition completed, and then you have to get the right people committed to working the new structure.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My name is Colin Robertson. I served in the Canadian foreign service for more than 32 years. I am currently vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a senior advisor with McKenna Long & Aldridge, a Washington law firm. I work through them with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. My volunteer activities include sitting on the board of Canada World Youth, which is funded by CIDA.
That said, my remarks are personal and do not represent any of these organizations.
I support reintegration of CIDA and Foreign Affairs into International Trade because I believe by linking the three critical policy levers of diplomacy, trade, and development, we'll get better policy coherence in advancing Canadian interests abroad and advancing our development outcomes. I think the nexus of development, diplomacy, and trade works very well, and that's how we try to do policy back in Canada, but in the field my observation was that sometimes CIDA operated separately. In my view, this did not serve our international interests, and it often confused, particularly those with whom we were dealing.
The short-term problem, and Paul addressed this, is how we deal successfully with the integration of CIDA into DFAIT.
Past experience with reorganization is not encouraging. The severing and then reintegrating of the trade part of the department in the early 2000s sapped energy. The best talent was devoted not to advancing the national interest but to moving boxes around in what was a rather painful and draining bureaucratic odyssey.
Development that creates the conditions where development assistance is no longer needed is the outcome we seek to achieve. Closer collaboration with the private sector, always a central theme of our international policy objectives, should be reinforced with the reintegration of CIDA into DFAIT.
I'm going to put my questions to you around four baskets: accountability, foreign policy, trade, and values and interests.
In terms of accountability, will DFAIT be ready to administer a fivefold increase in its budget? That's significant. I would refer you to work by Barry Carin and Gordon Smith, both formerly of the department and now working with CIGI at the University of Victoria, on the millennium development fund. They are looking at accountability standards as to how you ensure that you're getting full value for aid broadly, and I think that's something we need to pay attention to.
With an extra $4 billion of the people's money in its wallets, will the new foreign affairs and international trade and development department's culture be up to the task?
CIDA has embraced results-based reporting and open data. Will the new department embrace this approach?
The challenge of integration is getting it done without handicapping operations or shortchanging policy development, always a problem with any kind of integration. You, as members, need to get from the department a timetable, with benchmarks, for reintegration and clear communication as to who, what, when, and, most importantly, why this is all going to take place.
The second basket is foreign policy. It's one thing to say we're going to align development to foreign policy interests, but in doing so, are you de facto reviewing your foreign policy? An example is the information technology shops in the merging of the DFAIT system. In the DFAIT system, Africa missions are put at the bottom of the priority list in terms of upgrades and modernizations. For CIDA, the place is at the top, and appropriately so. So how do you fix that?
At the level of foreign policy, will integrating CIDA transform Canada's foreign policy priorities geographically? Will Africa, for example, be at the centre of Canada's next generation of global relationships? How, for example, do we now deal with China? China ceases to receive Canadian development, becoming a player itself. How are we going to work with China, having helped it to achieve a certain degree of development?
On the trade front, how will the new department handle private sector and capital flows? Will integration allow trade deals that enable people to earn more money and create new jobs by exporting to Canada?
Canada is an exporting nation, so three vital policies are necessary: trade promotion, trade policy aimed at trade liberalization, and trade negotiation.
We are underresourced on trade negotiation, just when the world is awash in trade negotiations, bilaterally, regionally, and globally. The Prime Minister, of course, is down in Cali today looking at a new trade negotiation, a Pacific alliance. Again, I think that's a good thing, but we don't have the capacity. Trade negotiating teams need constant input from the private sector, and this remains weak, unlike the free trade agreement and the NAFTA, which I worked on, where we had a very strong system of consultations with various sectors. The private sector, for its part, truly has to step up. It could do more on public-private partnerships. Bringing new ideas and best practices to the table in a practical sense is something the business community should be able to help us with, and I would encourage you to look, for example, at the work on the Pacific Century that's being done right now by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
As we proceed with trade negotiations, our foreign aid should strengthen our industry position internationally, including the rights of local youth, women, and local governance. The case of Bangladesh and the garment industry is a case in point.
As for values and interests, which I think are important, but I put them last in my set of questions, the integration of CIDA tests whether our values are in fact interests in disguise. Take, for example, the condition of women and girls. Any state that does not address the condition of women and girls can be neither prosperous nor secure. Does the integration propel our non-geographic foreign policy interests more firmly in this direction? Does Canada now have any choice except to increase development assistance?
Look, for example, to Britain and Japan. Despite government cutbacks, each has increased foreign aid and support, particularly for youth organizations. Japan has developed new youth exchanges with 41 countries, including Canada. In my view, youth exchanges are the best form of soft power because they build a global brand for Canada among young people. We are, after all, a young country. It constitutes the front end, in my view, of building Canadian corporate trends and brands. To do this, I think we need to apply the “can do, own the podium” spirit that we saw exemplified during the 2010 Olympics.
The CIDA of the past perhaps relied too heavily on the voluntary sector to reflect Canadian values in the effort to reduce poverty worldwide. Their collaboration, however, particularly with the mining industry, proved that public-private sector projects can be a win-win for all sides.
Again, I think you need to task the new department to develop a branding approach so that these initiatives are not only coordinated at an execution level, but are also easily perceived and understood by and within the Canadian system. It is important that Canadians understand what we're doing on aid. The Swedes do this well; Australia does this well; so do the Americans.
I think partnering with national companies and countries where we work makes sense. Look at the German model. We can and also should look to the EDC financing. It's creatively Canadian.
In conclusion, the reintegration of CIDA into DFAIT makes sense in terms of better administrative coherence, but the sooner it is achieved, the sooner we can get on to policy development, which is the core purpose of Foreign Affairs. For now the focus needs to be on the administrative efficiency of the new department, and then on the effective delivery of programs that advance our values and reflect our national interests.
On foreign policy itself, that's an issue for another day.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you very much for having invited us.
The Canadian Council on Africa, for those who don't know, was created about 12 years ago. We recruit members who have a clear common objective: economic development in Africa. These members are large and small companies, universities, colleges, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, provincial governments—Quebec, Alberta, Ontario—and federal agencies—EDC, CIDA, DFAIT. You name them, they're all around the table because they believe very strongly in economic development.
ODA, diplomacy, and trade are the three pillars of our place in the world. Canada ranks well on ODA—maybe not well enough for some, but we still rank quite well. On the diplomatic front, we are not a superpower, and will never be, I guess, but our role in the G-8 and G-20 has made us a significant country. Without trade we'd have to say that we would be in deep trouble.
One might argue that we don't need the merger if we are that successful. We have seen in the last decade a new paradigm evolving in the world that dictates that governments act strategically and develop coherent policies.
A few years ago Canada could count on a major market without fear for its income and so forth—the U.S.A. That's no longer the situation, at least not to the same degree. Canada could count on a regulatory budget increase to be devoted to ODA. The succeeding economic crises have changed that to a certain extent.
The African countries were dependent more on aid than investments to grow and prosper. This is not true anymore. In fact, since 2006, there's more investment than ODA.
A few years ago, Canada at the United Nations had no problem being elected to the Security Council. No more, for whatever reason.
A few years ago, China, Brazil, India, and Turkey were not really present in Africa.
Ten years ago China had less than $10 billion of trade; this year they're going to reach $200 billion—in ten years $200 billion of trade with Africa. In fact, last year China gave as much aid to Africa, $75 billion, as the U.S. Maybe the terms aren't the same, but still it's a reality.
Ten years ago Brazil was exactly the same as Canada, with 17 embassies and $2 billion in business. Brazil now has 32 of them—Canada has a little bit less than that—and they almost tripled their business with Africa. Canada has doubled its ODA in Africa but has reduced the number of countries, and you know that in the last couple of decades—and I say in the last couple of decades, not in the last few years—it has declared a number of times that there should be more coherence between the different elements of its international activities, but none of these has ever taken off. It's a reality. I remember two or three governments back, it was, yes, we're going to do a better job, and, yes, we want to do a better job, but it never took off, for whatever reason.
These new circumstances require Canada to take a hard look at how it makes its decisions and how it develops its strategies on the world stage and ensures that poverty reduction and human rights remain a top priority.
There are a number of reasons why I believe strongly in the merger. One, time has come for the Minister of International Development, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Trade to be at the same table. We will never be able to do what we are looking for if those three persons don't sit together on a weekly basis and discuss policy. The time has come also for the senior officials from those three organizations to work together and, again, have their management meeting every week to discuss those things. And you know how important it is. If one is absent, it's generally speaking the loser, and in this case CIDA was a loser in many of those instances.
You don't know how many times—and these people will confirm that because they were ambassadors before—I have heard, “We didn't know about this new approach or policy.” I had senior officials saying that to me, or other people, or, “It's not easy to work with them because they don't understand the bigger picture.” One was going to the left, one was going to the right, not purposely, but the way the structure was in place didn't help. How many times did I hear Canadian ambassadors tell me, “ODA is very important, but I have very limited say on establishing the priorities and managing them. It is difficult, nearly impossible, to explain it to Canadians, but even more so to African countries that are recipients.”
The time has come to involve all Canadians in the economic development of Africa, and other developing countries are doing that. Governments, NGOs, and the private sector have responsibilities, but also opportunities to create a better living situation for the people.
In the proposed legislation, we applaud the provision that spells out clearly that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is also responsible for international development, in proposed subsection 10(2). I won't repeat this, because you said that at the beginning. In fact, we will have two ministers responsible for that instead of one, which I think is a win for everyone. This provision is a very positive step to ensure that ODA does not take a back seat in the new department.
However, we believe the proposed act has a couple of weaknesses. My colleagues didn't talk about that. They almost talked about it, but I want to be very precise about this. It's a question of appropriation and budgetary allocations. I'm nervous about that. Many critics have claimed over the years that it's kind of difficult to find out how the money is spent at CIDA. I know there is a blue book and I know there is a budget and all of that, but we have to talk about the reality. With regard to the reality of it, people are saying this, and maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong, but it's a reality.
To start with, the large number of programs and the large numbers of developing countries and multilateral organizations make the reporting exercise quite complex. However, we know that the budgetary allocations of CIDA are spent by CIDA for the CIDA mission. This is a very serious potential issue. I think Canadians will want to be assured that in the new department there are no grey zones when it comes to the use of funds for international development.
I'm sure that some of the people who were here before me made similar comments and arguments. I would not be surprised to see that the largest number of objections are also on that topic. Will there be some fence around ODA money? That is the question. This bill does not provide an answer to this. Yes, the minister needs some flexibility to properly manage the department, the human resource programs, and, as was mentioned, the trade and everything. We do not have a solution to this potential problem, but I think the committee should look at it very carefully.
The second aspect of the financial issue that I'm a little bit concerned about is the policy coherence—and my colleague talked about that—not only within the department but outside the department. I don't know if you realize that 69% of ODA is spent by CIDA, but 31% is spent by others. In fact, there are six other departments and agencies spending ODA money. It's going to be diminished a little bit because about 8% to 9% is spent by DFAIT, so it would be about 75%.
The minister should, in the act, and I'm talking about the Minister with the big “M” and also the Minister of International Development, so I should say the “ministers”.... The ministers should, in the act, be clearly responsible for developing the overall annual plan. You can talk about strategy, plan, and policy, but I think it's important to do that.
I would recommend to the committee to ask CIDA for the changes over the years in the numbers. Many are claiming that the CIDA portion has also been declining; that's something I cannot verify, but maybe the committee can ask the questions of the officials. That 69% was higher before and has been declining steadily. This is a worry that we should be concerned with.
In closing, Mr. Chair, I think my message from CC Africa is that if we are vigilant in the design—and people are very important, because structure is not enough—and the implementation of the merger, and if everyone cares about poverty reduction and human rights, and I do, and about Canada's future, as we've talked about, the quality of the diplomatic agenda will be enhanced, I think.
Our expanded trade will also be good for Africa and Canada in that case. Canada's international help, or ODA, will gain significant influence—that's what we need here—on the development of government policy. Poverty reduction and human rights will still be very important for Canada. It's one of our very important business cards in the world, but business cards also mean private sector involvement and other people involved in Canada.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would like to express a huge thank you to all three of you for having kindly agreed to come and testify this morning on this important issue. I must begin by pointing out that, unfortunately, the committee can spend only a very short time on this important subject, since it is included in an omnibus bill. Obviously this prevents us from giving it all the attention it deserves. Moreover, there are many witnesses whom we have unfortunately not been able to hear, notably women. Actually, we have not heard from any women during these hearings. I do not have anything against you, though, gentlemen. Thank you again for your presentation.
I am going to begin with Mr. Robertson.
I very much enjoyed your presentation, which was really interesting. Obviously, as a former foreign affairs person, I very much liked the references to what we call people-to-people diplomacy, which has proved to be such an important tool for Canada, a tool that we should continue to use.
I also very much liked the questions regarding funding, in light of what the Japanese and the British are doing. That is very important.
I found some of the points very interesting, for example, regarding information technology. It is easy to say that we are going to act in accordance with our priorities, but CIDA does not always have the same geographical priorities. In fact, it really does not have the same geographical priorities as Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The way in which this is put into operation may be very complex, not to mention the very significant cultural differences between the two departments. Thought must also be given to management tools. Management by results works very well when we are managing programs. However, when we try to prevent a war, it cannot always be applied in the same way.
Sorry, I am talking too much. All this to say that I would like it if you talked a little more about your past experience, when Foreign Affairs and International Trade separated and then merged again.
Thank you for your question. I am sorry I am not a woman but I hope, nevertheless, to be able to answer your question.
Integrations are very difficult.
For those of you who have read Harry Potter, it's a bit like a visit from the Dementors, because it sucks all the energy out of the air and it makes things very difficult.
From your perspective as members, and this is not partisan, you want an effective working foreign affairs department. What you have to do is hold their feet to the fire to get on with it. In my experience, and I take this back not just to the trade reintegration and disintegration and reintegration back in the 2000s, if you go back to the commerce department, and of course CIDA and Immigration, which came in in the eighties, and then there was a pulling out of CIDA, and subsequently the foreign service side was put back into Immigration.... My experience is that these things are usually badly handled, they take a tremendous amount of time, and the best brains, as I said, are busy moving boxes around. That's not what you want. That's not going to serve you. That's not going to serve your constituents, to just move boxes around.
What you have to do is have a very clear schedule of how this is going to be done—the who, what, where, why, and particularly the what. What are we trying to do, and how is it going to achieve what we as members of Parliament representing Canadians are going to...? How are we going to achieve a foreign policy?
Certainly. Let me just tell you that I wrote that article sitting at a kitchen table in a condo in Florida after the Ottawa Citizen
had twigged me about it: “There's a debate going on here; you might not have heard. Could you say something about this?”
I looked at two examples from my personal experience as to why I had been disappointed, in my jobs, with what CIDA brought to the table to help get those jobs done.
The first one had to do with the end of the Cold War, the destruction of the Soviet empire, and the sudden emergence of two dozen small, vulnerable countries, all of which were quite capable of being captured by either old communist or new fascist movements.
I was down at the embassy in Washington at the time—I don't know whether Colin was there as well, in 1989-90—and it was clear to many of us that we needed to do something to bolster the democratic and economic processes in these tiny little countries, many of which had no experience in self-management.
The appeals that went out to CIDA were uniformly rejected on the grounds that CIDA had its list of priorities. It was in the poverty reduction business, and while these might be good causes, they weren't CIDA causes.
Foreign Affairs hence had to go and scrounge for money elsewhere, with appeals to Finance and other people. Finally Prime Minister Brian Mulroney prevailed. He actually gave a speech announcing a program for eastern Europe that nobody much knew about in Ottawa.
It was how you got around the policy process to get something started, and that process worked quite well. It was called Renaissance Eastern Europe, and it ran for eight or nine years before CIDA took it over.
Now, did Foreign Affairs suddenly have the in-house expertise to do that? No. Where did they go and get it? From CIDA.
In fact, many people, when CIDA was moving over to take control of it, then took Foreign Affairs people over to CIDA. They crossed the bridge to go and work on Renaissance Eastern Europe.
It was an example of how policy differences and institutional gaps between the two institutions prevented what would be the normal solution. You had to do a workaround.
The same thing happened in Afghanistan.
Certainly. There has been a sort of rethink about development assistance. We've put close to $1 trillion into it, and the results are not what we intended. So we began to have people ask what's not working.
Dambisa Moyo, Paul Collier, William Easterly, and others began to say it wasn't good enough to just send money into a place. What you're trying to do is develop skills and what I would call “sustainable jobs”.
The argument is that the private sector has to play a bigger role in this. We have a lot of foreign investment in Canada that creates jobs, and we should be doing the same in Africa. The private sector is now moving in that direction—the jobs that provide the sustainable development that we seek to achieve are largely being driven by foreign investment, working with the government at home. It's not the pure development as we saw it in the past.
That's a philosophical shift in thinking on how we've done aid for the past 50 years. We have a lot of opportunity. Think of our mining companies, which are extremely active. The Prime Minister just announced today in Peru—and he's going on to Colombia—that we have opportunities.
We have an actual place and standing if we choose to use it. This takes us into social corporate responsibility. There are areas like labour, the environment, and respect for women in which we can make a shift in things. It is harder to do, but it is doable.
I want to make one last comment on integration. I have a very practical suggestion. Do not leave CIDA “siloized” on the other side of the river. My view would be to take the African bureaus and put them all together. Take the trade, the policy.... In my experience—and Paul lived through this as well—when you put the two together, cheek by jowl, and we did this in the early 1980s, it means that you lunch together, you walk down the hall and you talk together. The worst thing we can do in this integration is to leave the silos.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Robertson, we may give you the opportunity to pursue that.
I just want to first be very clear, for the committee and for people who may be reading this, that there is a distinct difference between what we do in humanitarian aid and what we do in development. I just want to read the Prime Minister's quote when he said:
||But when the need is great and the cause is just, Canadians are always there.And we will always be. Because that is what Canadians do.
We have stepped up to the plate with the Sahel, with the East African drought relief, with Syria, with Haiti. With innumerable humanitarian situations, Canada has been there. We will continue.
I want to posit a slightly different theory, though, and I ask for your comment on this. Canada has had enormous contributions. In fact, we are one of the largest contributors to the Global Fund. The reduction of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS is significant around the world. Our contribution in the reduction of polio has been enormous, and we are seeing such success there it's almost astounding. We have put money into the World Food Programme, and again we're one of the largest contributors. The maternal, newborn, and child health initiative, which is a signature project for Canada, is saving moms and babies all over Africa, in particular. What we're seeing is reduced mortality rates, increased numbers of babies who are surviving and reaching five years of age.
Does it not mean that we need to restructure our development because we actually have a reclaimed generation? For the long run, what are we looking at? We're not just dealing with getting food in the mouths anymore. We need to look at what the long run looks like in skills training and job opportunities, because we have a new generation, thank God, of young people who are alive and need hope and a future.
Do you have comments on that, gentlemen?
Thanks to our witnesses who have offered us interesting comments.
To underline, I think what they demonstrated in their testimony today, Chair, is the fact that this process we're engaged in right now is not sufficient. When you look at what other countries have done and the way they've done it, they've taken the time to do it right. I want to make that point again, as I have in previous committee hearings on this. We have an omnibus bill in Finance; we don't touch it at all. We have no ability to change or to hear from people like you to influence it. Hopefully they'll hear over there when they're having hearings at Finance.
And I say that because some of the points you've made...you have to do this right. It is about people, but it is about structure. I appreciate the fact that you mentioned that people make things work, but you can also have structures in the way of people doing good work.
I'll start with you, Mr. Robertson, and I think, Mr. Chapin, you talked about this as well. When you have this kind of approach that we've seen in the U.K., certainly with the model I know, aligning your development aspirations with your foreign policy, is it not absolutely critical to have a foreign policy that people can understand? I say that because I think that's the dilemma right now. I say this without prejudice, believe it or not. After we lost our seat on the Security Council, one of the things I put forward at the foreign affairs committee was to let this committee have a conversation with Canadians about what our foreign policy should be. I would challenge anyone around this table to tell us exactly what our foreign policy is. Where do you find this anywhere on the Foreign Affairs website? You'll hear speeches, you'll hear comments like we're in favour of freedom and democracy, as if anyone isn't.
What is the challenge if you don't get your foreign policy articulated first in this equation, because if you don't have an articulated foreign policy, will it not disrupt this approach and undermine all the good things we can see out of this model?
I want to say a couple of things about that. The first one is that, as I said in my exposé, you're going to have two ministers responsible for it now. They will have to talk the same language, because they're going to be in trouble if they don't.
Second, ambassadors will be in a better position to communicate to the countries and better manage the delivery. You go to certain embassies and the ambassador says, “Lucien, CIDA is there, I'm here, and Immigration is there”—and there is some disconnect there. That should help.
Now, the pronouncement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs should also be in big support of international development. I think the government will win if it does it well, and I have no reason not to believe they will do it well. But it's a plus for development, a plus for trade. The Department of Foreign Affairs, and Trade, Minister Fast, work very closely with Baird, and when I travel I see that all the time now. I see there is a connection that I didn't see before, and Minister Fantino also goes before or after, or whatever. I can assure you that our reputation is going up in Africa because of that exposure. The merger will help Africa to better understand Canada, because sometimes they tell me, “We don't understand. There's something wrong here.” This will fix issues of communication. Philosophy, I don't know, but definitely communication.
We talked about women. Next week, we're going to have a conference with 13 delegations from Africa—business women in Toronto talking about the development of business between African women in business and Canadians. This is all part of it. One of the big sponsors is CIDA, and Minister Fantino will be there. You see the convergence there: trade, business women, and development. That's what we have to do more and more in the future.
Sorry, it's a commercial.
I think the benefits will be that aid will be more in keeping with the general policy of the government, which some people question is not always clear. That will be clearer.
One of the things that people don't know is that 80% of our business with Africa is in the knowledge business, services. You know what? When a company goes to Africa, first of all, they do two things. They find a partner over there, because they cannot compete if they don't have a partner. What they do with the project is they leave knowledge behind, they create good economies for Congo or whoever, and that creates jobs.
The second thing it does that's very good is it creates investment opportunities, like the mining industry. The mining industry of Canada has created 50,000 jobs in Africa. It has paid more than any other field in the continent. For me, that's very important.
The third thing is you talked about EDC a minute ago. I hope the committee will pressure EDC in the not too distant future to open an office in Africa. That's the only continent where they haven't opened an office. I work very well with EDC, don't misunderstand. I think they are champions for Africa. But it's time they opened their minds and said this is a place to do business.
For the last five years they have told me, Lucien, it's coming, it's coming, it's coming. Well, it's not there. So let's make sure that we have something, either in South Africa or wherever.
I could talk to you for an hour, I'm sorry. I'm stopping.
Thank you. I'm going to share my time with Madame Péclet.
I just wanted to nail something down. Mr. Robertson, I think I'll put it to you.
We had witness testimony at the last committee hearing about the concerns right now of the concentration of power within the Minister of Foreign Affairs' office, and we've certainly seen that in announcements, etc.
The concern you've mentioned around making sure we still have that voice for international development is certainly aligned, and we all get that with our foreign policy. But in the legislation as you see it, we have “the minister”, and that's the foreign affairs minister, and then “additional duties”. I certainly get and agree with this idea of putting people together and thrashing things out, but my concern is right now what we have is a very concentrated office, and we have a structure that's going to bring in another office.
You were underlining the concern around development dollars and where are they going to go. How do you see managing...we'll call it creative tension? Some others might have other words for it, but how do you ensure that things aren't going to be swallowed up by one minister? I think that's a fair concern, and certainly when you see the legislation structured the way it is, how is this going to happen? Who's wagging the dog, so to speak?
We had someone else who said trade could learn a lot from those in CIDA who are doing good CSR work.
The Kofi Annan report just on Africa, which I'm sure gained a lot of attention for you, is something that is a lesson. You can't just look at GDP and exports; look at results. And that usually comes from a sensibility of those who are in international development. How do we make sure we're not, within the structure, losing that important voice?
Leaving personalities aside, the legislation as I read it now makes this a significant part of the portfolio of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who has overall responsibility, which I think is a good thing. You do need a single point of contact.
I think in adding that to the minister's portfolio, that minister, by definition, with responsibility to cabinet and to you as members of Parliament, has to take that into account. That becomes an additional part. In the past, when I go back to the eighties and the nineties, when we jiggled the chair slightly and added to the Minister of Foreign Affairs...there was no question in the early eighties, for example, when we did this that the then Minister of External Affairs, Allan MacEachen, spoke with greater authority because that was part of his portfolio.
I have no doubt that the current minister, Mr. Baird, should take.... He has, not entirely elaborated as yet, a dignity agenda, which goes into a lot of the things that are absolutely vital to development—women, girls, the disadvantaged groups.
I think the CIDA addition should play a major role, because it needs to be remembered—and I go back to Lloyd Axworthy, who also had things changed when he was there, and his whole sort of soft power. He took into account all of the facets of foreign affairs. In a sense you're arming the foreign minister. Again, to use the example of other countries, the foreign minister in Britain, the foreign minister in many of the European countries, Hillary Clinton, what she did—you added aid to Hillary Clinton and she significantly increased what she was able to do and with devotion to a couple of areas, in particular women, as you know, as a key piece of it.
So my argument would be that the foreign minister will have this because it is now part of their responsibility, and in a sense we're going to get a better—
I just have one comment, if I am allowed to respond to a point that Mr. Dewar made a little while ago.
Boy, do we need a foreign policy that people can get hold of and talk about. It doesn't have to be forever and a day. It's not the gospel truth, but it needs to be articulated regularly, particularly by new governments so that everybody else gets the message about what's now important.
I would argue that if you look at the report of the Auditor General that came out a couple of months ago, if you look at where the money is going for international development assistance, CIDA has a good chunk of it. Then there is another half a dozen or a dozen government departments with the money, too. But there is a column in the AG's report indicating how much of this money is actually transferred to international institutions, mostly UN and UN-related, and out of the total of $5.1 billion, it's almost $3 billion.
What we're talking about in the reorganization here is how to better deal with the $2.1 billion that's left over. We need to look very seriously at the international architecture we're using, because if we want to alleviate poverty, Canada is going to be able to do this much, but the UN system and all those agencies are where the answer lies, and we need to be much more diligent in going after these institutions, including, if we have to, threatening to leave them and go someplace else with our money. If we want to be in the results-oriented business, and we really want to alleviate poverty, it can be done, just as we can alleviate polio and all these other things if we put our minds to it, but not if we're simply on the same old track.