The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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CIDA – Lester Pearson and .7%

Posted on August 31, 2009

As the Canadian International Development Agency continues performing under a microscope of intense scrutiny, it’s almost inevitable that the subject of Lester B. Pearson and his goal of reaching .7% of GDP for international aid is repeatedly introduced. We begin our studies of CIDA under that lengthy shadow cast by perhaps our greatest internationalist prime minister. Pearson introduced the .7 target in a report published shortly after his retirement from politics. It was robust yet many thought it do-able, despite the hefty costs. The world was different back then and his reasoning behind the target needs to be understood in that context. The global community was still in the grips of the Cold War in 1968 and Pearson had been one of the progressive…

Altered States – The Summer of Our Discontent

Posted on August 28, 2009

Some things have gone missing this summer.  Our sense of purpose in Afghanistan has taken some severe hits as we heard repeatedly in July and August from various commanders that the conflict isn’t going well. Even with the additional U.S. troops it appears as though the tide has turned in favor of the Taliban. Numerous municipalities wonder whatever became of the stimulus money. So much hype had been raised about the renewal of city infrastructures through the infusion of federal cash that we almost believed it.  Instead, key projects remain dormant as the funds are delayed. It was good news to hear that the recession was likely over, but the recovery seems to have gone AWOL. Bankruptcies have doubled, small businesses are closing, EI…

Something’s Not Right

Posted on August 26, 2009

OTTAWA – Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee were called to Ottawa today to discuss the issue of Canadians being trapped abroad and having difficulties getting home.  There’s a sense where this is surely politically driven: with no Parliament in session, opposition parties have no real opportunity to confront the government on some of the pertinent issues of the day. And the subject of Canadian citizens trapped overseas is clearly becoming pertinent, and increasingly so. The political calculations were well known before any of the members entered the committee room.  Opposition members were there to put pressure on the government to do something about what is clearly an emerging problem; the government members worked as a collective, attempting to deflect any criticism that might…

The Constrained International Development Agency

Posted on August 25, 2009

Here we go again. A recent report by Carleton University professors Chris Brown and Edward Jackson has been raging through CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) this summer and questions once again the very validity of the organization. Discouraged agency employees seriously wonder how many more body blows the agency can take before people just leave the building. To be sure, there’s much in the Jackson-Brown paper that has clear merit, as did the Senate Committee report that came out on CIDA three years ago now. It concludes with a query: “Can a similar transformation occur in Canada, or should we simply abolish CIDA and start over again, as the Senate committee suggests?” They then close with four options: Transform the existing CIDA Give the…

In Memory of the Canadian 1st

Posted on August 19, 2009

It was a moment of surprise emotion. The site of a specially dedicated Canadian cemetery recognizing the ultimate price paid by Canadian soldiers in Sicily gives a meaningful sense of home for any Canadian traveling through this beautiful island. Agira, like so many other Sicilian villages, is situated on the very top of a large hill, preciously hanging out over the vast valley below. At the base of the hill lies the Agira cemetery dedicated to Canada’s fallen. We had been saving for a number of years to visit this place where my father fought with the Canadian 1st Infantry Division and with our 10th anniversary happening this summer, my wife and I thought it appropriate to use the occasion to track a significant…