[19 February, 2003]
Ottawa – Deepak Obhrai, MP for Calgary East and Canadian Alliance Critic for International Cooperation, today responded to the increase in the Canadian foreign aid budget announced yesterday. Obhrai called upon the Minister of International Cooperation “to ensure that stringent controls are placed on this increase to ensure that no foreign aid will find its way into terrorist hands.”
Obhrai noted, “We have seen too many reports that funding from the Canadian International Development Agency may be funneled to terrorist organizations. To date, the Minister has given us no assurance that this won’t continue.”
Obhrai also added that Canada’s foreign aid should reflect our commitment to democracy and human rights around the world. “A large portion of this new funding will go to the African continent. CIDA must ensure that governments that receive aid have a firm commitment to human rights and democracy, and it does not turn out to be simply a ‘Dollars to Dictators’ program,” Obhrai said.
Obhrai continued, “CIDA has to target its funding to those countries that are most in need and can not help themselves, rather than the Liberals’ current shotgun approach. Countries like India and China are wealthy enough to address their own challenges. Their use of money is a greater concern than their lack of money”.
Obhrai concluded, “Canada’s foreign aid dollars must be focused on capacity-building. We should help recipient countries move into the global economy, so they can start to stand on their own. Opening markets to the least developed countries is a step in the right direction.”