Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
CIDA Aid to Palestine

[7 June, 2006]

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil—Pierre- Boucher, BQ)
[St-Hilaire.C@parl.gc.ca] :

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in today’s debate on Bill C- 293, an act respecting the provision of development assistance abroad.

The basic purpose of this bill is to ensure that international assistance is used to eliminate poverty, which the Bloc Québécois fully subscribes to. We feel it is essential that the principle of eliminating poverty be enshrined in law.

Furthermore, I want to remind hon. members that last November we introduced Motion M-308, calling on the previous government:

“[to] increase Canada’s international assistance through a commitment firstly to increasing in a stable and predictable manner amounts for government development assistance … and secondly by enshrining in law that the mandate and purpose of government development assistance is poverty reduction.”

International assistance is a major issue and a daunting challenge. The Bloc Québécois has always been in favour of a greater and more effective increase in development assistance. What is more, with what is currently happening in various corners of the globe, where millions of people have been rocked by natural disasters, unending political conflicts, famine and the spread of deadly disease, we must act and Canada has the means to do so.

. . .

There are other examples of aid projects that are not meeting their intended objectives. Take Palestine, for example. Much of the money intended for the Palestinians is being withheld by Israeli banks, which deprives the population directly.

When the ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation withdrew Canadian aid from the newly elected government of the Palestinian territories, the agreement was that the Canadian government would keep on providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people through UN agencies and non-governmental organizations. Only direct aid to the new government was to be suspended. But the reality is quite different. Aid to NGOs is being maintained, but evidence suggests that it is not reaching its destination.

An entire population is being held hostage. Not only do the Palestinians live in a very difficult political situation, but they also have serious problems making a living. Many young people cannot even go to school anymore. Canada is helping to mortgage future generations.

The Bloc Québécois denounced the Canadian government’s position, deeming its decision premature.

We all agree that we need to take a cautious and strict attitude toward Hamas, but we have to honour our commitments of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people