Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Expands Aid Targets, but No New Money for Foreign Development

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Expands Aid Targets, but No New Money for Foreign Development

Article excerpt

Canada expands aid list, but no new money

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OTTAWA - The Harper government is expanding its foreign aid priority list by five countries, widening the pool of recipients to the level set by the previous Liberal government.

It has added the Philippines, Burma, Mongolia, Burkina Faso, Benin, Congo and Jordan to the list and dropped Pakistan and Bolivia.

However, the reshuffling of aid priorities is not accompanied by any new funds to cover the expansion of the list of target countries to 25 from 20.

Last month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Canada, along with its rich Western allies, to boost overall foreign aid spending to 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product from its current level of less than 0.3 per cent.

Development Minister Christian Paradis told The Canadian Press that the government will shuffle existing funds to cover priorities while putting in place new accountability measures to ensure the money is well spent.

"We will have to reshape things to make sure we do address the needs," Paradis said in an exclusive interview.

He said the government will continue to pursue other sources of aid partnerships, including tapping into private corporations.

"We believe that we can unlock sleeping money in the private sector and philanthropists. We have to be proactive."

The government shortened the list of priority countries to 20 in 2009 and drew fire for cutting several African recipients.

The new list includes Congo, where rape as a weapon of war has been criticized by Canada and many others.

The new alignment jettisons Pakistan, a country that was the staging ground for al-Qaida attacks on Canadian troops based in Afghanistan. Canada ended its combat contribution to the Afghan mission in 2011 and withdrew the last of its military trainers in March.

"It's no longer a focus because there is a lot of instability, huge security issues and we think that at this point, given the circumstances, we can concentrate on other places where we can make a real difference," Paradis said. …

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