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Rethinking Canadian Aid

An introduction to the “Rethinking Canadian Aid” symposium, a conversation about foundations, contradictions, and possibilities for Canadian aid.

By: /
16 September, 2013
By: David Black
Director, Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie University.
By: Molly den Heyer
Molly den Heyer is a Senior Program Analyst with Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University and Research Fellow with the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University.
Stephen Brown
By: Stephen Brown
Political science professor, University of Ottawa

Why does Canada provide foreign aid? What is its role in the international arena? How does, and should, aid relate to other diplomatic, security, economic and commercial policy goals? Where and how has aid been successful or unsuccessful in improving development prospects? At present, scholars and practitioners are struggling to address these questions in a rapidly changing Canadian and global context. The shifting government priorities, restructuring of the Canadian aid architecture, and emerging complexity around aid and global poverty has prompted many (this website included) to call for a re-invigorated, if not transformed, ‘Canadian aid conversation.’

As a way of contributing to the conversation, the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University, in association with the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, will host a two-day symposium on “Rethinking Canadian Aid: Foundations, Contradictions and Possibilities”. Participants will collectively revisit motivations and policies in the rapidly changing field of Canadian aid and within the context of an international aid regime under stress. More specifically, they will explore three topics:

The first principles of Canadian aid in terms of the underlying ethics, obligations, and narratives that sustain key debates and practices

Refashioning Humane Internationalism in 21st Century Canada

Adam Chapnick, Deputy Director of education and Associate Professor of Defense Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada.

Results, Risk, Rhetoric, and Reality

Ian Smilie, Chair of the Board of the Diamond Development Initiative, Founder-member of the McLeod Group, and recipient of the Order of Canada.

The context and structure of Canadian international development efforts, including the motives and justifications animating government priorities, civil society and public opinion.

Virage dans la gestion de l’aide Canadienne publique au développement

Francois Audet, Professor at the School of Management (ESG) of the Université du Québec à Montréal, Scientific Director of the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid (OCCAH) & Olga Navarro-Flores, Professor at the School of Management (ESG) of the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Continental Shift? Rethinking Canadian Aid to the Americas

Laura Macdonald, Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University & Arne Ruckert, Research Associate at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Population Health.

Why Aid?

Dominic H. Silvio, migrated to Canada from South Sudan in 1998 through a refugee student scholarship from University College at the University of Toronto under World University Service of Canada (WUSC).

Mockingbird or Maverick?

Liam Swiss, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Memorial University.

Canada’s past and potential future role in international development, particularly with regard to the evolution of thematic priorities, aid to failed and fragile states, and extractive industries.

Undermining Foreign Aid

Stephen Brown, Professor of Political Science at the University of Ottawa

“Children-in-development” to Social Age Mainstreaming?

Christina Clark-Kazak, Associate Professor and Acting Chair of International Studies at York University’s bilingual Glendon College.

Canada’s Fragile States Policy

David Carment, Editor of Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, & Yiagadeesen Samy, Associate Professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.

Charité Bien Ordonnée

Gabriel C. Goyette, coordinator of the Centre d’études de l’Asie de l’Est.

The excerpts published here on the website represent a small sample of the important insights and rich debate emerging from the essays being presented at the symposium. They will be followed by an edited volume, containing full essays, in 2014.

The organizers, David Black, Stephen Brown, and Molly den Heyer, gratefully acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for the symposium, through a Connections Grant.

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Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

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A Healthier Approach to Canadian Aid

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Prabhat Jha on how Canada can do more to help save lives around the world.

Beyond the Echo Chamber

Beyond the Echo Chamber


Liam Swiss on why a real “new Canadian aid conversation” will be one that grows to include critical voices from across the political spectrum.