Nutt: Is the folding of CIDA into DFAIT the end or a fresh start for Canadian international development?
The folding of CIDA into DFAIT is neither the end nor a fresh start. It is the continuation of an over-arching, ideological shift in our aid agenda to leverage aid funding to suit our commercial and trade interests. Efficiencies can certainly come from folding CIDA into DFAIT and there are examples (Norway being among the most prominent) of countries that have already done this. However, in the case of Norway, while the results overall have been mixed, this change was also accompanied by a greater commitment to aid as a proportion of GDP and an ongoing narrowing of NORAD’s focus to impoverished and at-risk populations. Norway is now the top OECD contributor to foreign aid, while Canada’s aid contributions will drop back down to 1990s levels over the next few years due to fiscal “austerity measures.” Where CIDA sits is not the issue. The real issue is the coherence of our aid strategy and whose interests it ought to serve. Aid has always been a blunt foreign policy tool. The concern now is that aid is being sharpened to serve corporate interests first, and vulnerable populations second – if at all. Why must we get, as good as we give?