Rethinking International Assistance

 

How Canada should rethink international assistance

The Globe and Mail Thursday, May 26, 2016

As the federal government rethinks its international assistance policies, it should heed the call from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for transformative change to global humanitarian relief.

This week’s Istanbul humanitarian conference has put the spotlight on the current state of the global relief system and the effort to reform how the world responds to humanitarian crises.

Disasters, natural or man-made, are increasing. So is the number of conflicts as well as failed and failing states. And the current system of international aid is underfunded and overstretched. The UN estimates that 125 million people need humanitarian relief. The need for smarter relief and development assistance is urgent and immediate. Rethinking our international assistance is timely and sensible.

Officials at the Istanbul conference pointed to the breakdown of international norms on asylum, the need to localize aid and frictions between those who provide relief and those who do not. The conference will provide some much-needed context for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Group of Seven leaders, who are looking at aid accountability as part of their broader summit discussions this week in Ise-Shima, Japan.

While the UN is often criticized as nothing more than a talk shop, in recent months it has concluded a global climate accord and set new sustainable development goals – all of which will factor into Canada’s assistance review. The review, running from May to July, promises broad consultation with planned events around governance, pluralism, diversity and human rights as well as peace and security.

The future direction of Canadian assistance is clearly stated in the government’s discussion guide. International assistance is to advance the UN 2030 Sustainable Development agenda while applying “a feminist lens” to help “the poorest and most vulnerable people.” But to expect more money would be “unrealistic … in the current fiscal context.”

While the overall direction has yet to be determined, the differences between the previous Conservative government’s approach – an emphasis on environmental sustainability, gender equality and governance – are likely to be more tonal than substantive.

Nor is former prime minister Stephen Harper’s framework – with its emphasis on untied aid and a selective country focus – likely to change. The Liberal government has also decided, wisely, to maintain the consolidation of diplomacy, trade and development.

Much of Mr. Harper’s signature program, to improve maternal, newborn and child health, also fits into the Liberal paradigm. The government will continue supporting this initiative, but with more support for family planning and greater attention to the root causes of maternal and child mortality.

The success of the government’s development review will hinge on a number of factors.

First, investing more money. Canada currently sits in the bottom half of the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development when it comes to development assistance. While the Liberal government is right to oppose “throwing buckets of money indiscriminately,” more money, well-spent, makes more impact.

As a recent report assessing Canada’s engagement gap put it, we meet the definition of “free riders” when it comes to development and defence. If Britain can devote 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product to development assistance and 2 per cent to defence (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization standard), shouldn’t we at least aspire to this goal?

Second, Mr. Harper was right when he underlined the importance of accountability in development. But let’s do it with a lighter touch, practise risk management and recognize that civil society organizations (CSOs) need multiyear commitments to demonstrate results. Governments insist that CSOs bring their overhead down, yet they drown them in paperwork.

Third, we can’t boil the ocean so we need to focus. Our projects will always reflect our values, but there is nothing wrong with choosing those that also complement our trade and investment interests. In Africa, for example, our development assistance should work in tandem with our resource industries’ investment to demonstrate best-in-class corporate social responsibility.

Fourth, we need to improve and develop Canadian expertise by investing in Canadian CSOs and in youth exchanges. Programs like Canada World Youth gave generations of Canadians their first international experience while giving their foreign counterparts an appreciation of Canada that has opened doors in diplomacy, trade, education and migration.

Finally, donors – especially in the West – are fatigued and skeptical about aid’s effectiveness. The Liberal government should use these consultations to reassure Canadians about the efficacy of development assistance.

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On Ambassador Kevin Vickers ‘unorthodox’ intervention

CTV National interview with Omar Sachedina

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.2919579

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 11.20.56 AM

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G7 in Japan

Canada and Japan talk trade in lead up to G7 summit

JOHN IBBITSON

The Globe and Mail  Sunday, May 22, 2016 10:05PM EDT

Justin Trudeau arrives in Japan on Monday for a week of talks ending in a G7 summit that is darkened by stalled trade agreements, a rising tide of insurgent populism and the possibility that a President Donald J. Trump could attend next year.

The ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement may not make it through the U.S. Congress; both Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump, the likely Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, spout protectionist rhetoric; Britain votes June 23 in a referendum on whether to leave the European Union (called “Brexit”); and political turmoil in Europe threatens the future of the EU itself.

“The returns on trade have not been translated onto the dining room table,” said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. Coupled with the uncertain recovery from the financial crisis of 2008-09, this has led, he believes, to a growing mood in both the United States and Europe that’s “anti-trade, anti-immigration, anti-big business, anti-establishment.”

Despite this, both Canada and Japan would like to reinvigorate their flagging trading relationship. Japan, once Canada’s second-largest trading partner, is now fifth. The two countries began free-trade negotiations in 2012, but put those talks on hold when they joined the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership talks that included the United States and a raft of Pacific nations.

Now all parties are holding their breath to see whether the U.S. Congress will ratify the TPP, as it’s known, since both Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump say they oppose it. At the same time, populist politicians in both the United States (Mr. Trump on the right and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on the left) and in Europe threaten the existing order.

In Austria’s presidential election on Sunday, the candidate supported by the Greens and the candidate of the extreme right-wing Freedom Party each took half the vote, with no clear winner apparent. Nativist, nationalist, populist parties are on the rise from Poland to France.

“You’ve got an awful lot of unhappy, angry people out there,” noted John Manley, head of the Business Council of Canada. “All they know is that things haven’t gotten better for them and they’re not sure why, but trade is a pretty convenient target.”

Against this backdrop, Mr. Trudeau will be offering a message of hope at the G7: that sustained government spending, such as the Liberals’ 10-year, $120-billion infrastructure plan, can revive both growth and confidence. It’s a 180-degree turn from what Canada was saying under the austerity-minded leadership of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.

“I don’t think anything has changed to make the Canadian voice any more or less powerful today,” said Rohinton Medhora, president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont. “What matters is what the Germans think in Europe, what the Americans think about these issues.”

But if Canada does not have much influence in the global debate over trade, it does have an enormous stake in the outcome. The Canadian economy depends on trade, so any reversal of the decades-old trend toward ever-freer trade puts Canadian jobs and Canadian prosperity at risk.

Mr. Manley said he believes there could also be opportunities. If the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement fails to be ratified, he is urging Mr. Trudeau to renew trade talks with Japan. “Canada has a rather unique opportunity to be a hub, rather than just one of the spokes,” he said, able to market itself as a conduit to both American and European markets.

All the more reason, Mr. Robertson urges, for Mr. Trudeau and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland to hie themselves to Europe sooner rather than later to nail down ratification of the Canada-EU free-trade agreement.

G7 leaders are painfully aware that, should Donald Trump become U.S. president, the global order would be under enormous strain. Not only is Mr. Trump vehemently opposed to the TPP (and to the North American free-trade agreement), he is threatening to launch a trade war with China and has mooted withdrawing the American security umbrella protecting Japan and South Korea.

But Mr. Medhora remains hopeful. If the British vote to stay in Europe and the Americans elect Hillary Clinton, he observes, then the established order will remain largely intact. “A lot depends on what happens with Brexit and the U.S. elections.”

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On Deputy Minister Daniel Jean

Global Affairs DM to bring expertise to national security

Daniel Jean with former foreign affairs minister John Baird, as he oversaw the merger of DFATD in 2013. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia

By CHELSEA NASH

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, May 11, 2016 12:00 AM

Last week’s shuffle of deputy ministers included some “very rare” moves, say insiders.

Spurred by the retirement announcement of National Security Adviser Richard Fadden in late March, deputy ministers in several departments were moved around to fill the space, including Foreign Affairs DM Daniel Jean moving to fill Fadden’s role, and Ian Shugart, current DM of employment and social development, to fill Mr. Jean’s shoes.

The prime minister’s recent shuffle of deputy ministers could suggest an emphasis on international affairs when it comes to national security.

When asked if he thought moving Mr. Jean to national security was indicative of the government’s emphasis on national security threats abroad, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said, “you could say that,” before stressing that Global Affairs also deals with national security.

Mr. Dion said Mr. Jean had been responsible for the fusion of departments at Global Affairs. “It was a huge task,” he said. “He’s a great manager, as it should be.”

In 2013, the Conservative government merged the Canadian International Development Agency with the foreign affairs department, which then became known as DFATD. Mr. Jean was brought on as DM in November 2013, months after the announcement was made that the foreign ministry would absorb CIDA.

Andrew Caddell, a senior policy adviser at Global Affairs, told The Hill Times that Mr. Jean is a meticulous and friendly manager, who is hugely invested in the skills of his team.

“Daniel Jean was one of the few deputies who really did identify with the regular foreign service officers and a lot of that was because he’d been on a few postings himself,” said Mr. Caddell.

He described Mr. Jean as a personable leader, who would often hold meetings over coffee, and be very prompt in getting back to people.

“He was the type of guy who’d go down to the cafeteria when he first started and I think subsequently too, and he would just go and sit at a table and chat with people.”

Calling Mr. Jean a reliable listener and a straightforward person, Mr. Caddell had nothing but good things to say about the future national security adviser.

“He was very, very frank about what the situation with the department was, what his objectives were, what his priorities were, and he’s a very, very good listener and took notes and was very quick to respond, and I think that was a sign of his sort of leadership.”

Mr. Dion said he’s not surprised that the prime minister wants Mr. Jean close by. He also stressed that Mr. Jean had gained valuable experience in security during his time at Global Affairs.

“At Foreign Affairs, we have a lot of responsibilities regarding security. A lot of the information received is completely secret and very touchy and we work very closely with the PCO and with [Public Safety Minister Ralph] Goodale’s office and department, and in defence. So the years that he has been in foreign affairs, he has [this expertise],” Mr. Dion told reporters after a committee meeting last week.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and current fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, wrote in an email that Mr. Jean is “a very experienced public servant who has never lost a sense of proportion.”

The two served together in Hong Kong during what was “a very intense time” Mr. Robertson said. The pair were so close that Mr. Jean even taught Mr. Robertson’s daughter how to swim. “He is a very good sportsman,” Mr. Robertson said.

At the time, Mr. Jean was responsible for directing the entrepreneurial immigration program. Mr. Robertson said he was “renowned” for getting to work at six in the morning in order to be able to leave in time for dinner with his family.

Mr. Robertson said that “despite the pressures” of their time in Hong Kong, “the program got high marks for its efficiency, satisfied clients and the good morale of those who worked with him.”

Mr. Caddell said “it’s very rare for a deputy of foreign affairs to become the head [national security adviser].”

The last person to do so was Marie-Lucie Morin, who served as associate deputy minister of foreign affairs from 2003 to 2006, then deputy minister of international trade from 2006 to 2008, before being appointed national security adviser to the PM in November, 2008.

“I think that’s a sign of how much the prime minister values his advice, and how he’s perceived at PMO and PCO for him to make that kind of a leap,” Mr. Caddell said.

Mr. Fadden told The Globe and Mail in a Q&A last month that he thinks Mr. Trudeau “comes to office with a very strongly-held view that national security is a core responsibility of the prime minister.”

Mr. Shugart, who will be taking Mr. Jean’s place, has a varied background that appears to be based largely in health. In the mid-90’s, Mr. Shugart was the executive director of the Medical Research Council, now called the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In the early 2000s, he served as assistant deputy minister in the health policy branch of Health Canada. After that, his focus shifted to have an emphasis on the environment, as he served as the associate deputy minister and then the deputy minister at Environment Canada.

His current position, which he has held since 2010, is deputy minister of employment and social development.

Mr. Dion said he does not know Mr. Shugart, but has been assured by Mr. Jean and Mr. Shugart’s current minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, that he will make a great replacement.

“I have heard only positive things. And perhaps it will not [do to] give one of the most demanding jobs you could imagine to someone who they would not have full confidence. It’s a recommendation of the clerk. The clerk knows that his reputation is directly linked to the quality of the person he will appoint at Foreign Affairs, at Global Affairs. It’s the deputy not only for me, but it’s the top deputy of Global Affairs. For Madame [Chrystia] Freeland and Madame [Marie-Claude] Bibeau as well,” he said, referring to the ministers of international trade and international development, respectively.
The changes go into effect on May 16.

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Brexit and Federalism

 

It’s time Canada spoke out to help save Europe’s grand federalism experiment

 

The Globe and Mail Tuesday, May 10, 2016

As friends, allies and fellow federalists, Canada has a vested interest in the continued success of the European experiment in integration.

Aside from our deep European roots – our people and inherited institutions – we have our own interests in ensuring the European Union remains strong and united.

More than a third of Canadians claim origins from the British Isles. Then there are the more than 100,000 Canadians who died in Europe during two world wars so that that continent would be free. The EU is our second-largest trading partner and we are closing with them on the most advanced trade deal of our time.

But Europe’s grand experiment in democratic federalism is facing multiple crises – a profound cross-cutting of divisions splitting north and south, east and west. These forces are the result of what former Canadian diplomat Jeremy Kinsman has described as the “perfect storm.”

The catalogue of woes is many. There is the ongoing euro-crisis as Greece approaches yet another inflection point; there is Russian revanchism (Will the Europeans hang tough, and together, in their Minsk II sanctions regime?); there is the refugee influx and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s deal with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan. (Critics, unfairly, say it gives visa-free access to 75 million Turks in exchange for hosting a million Syrian refugees.)

Even the Canada-Europe free-trade deal is under threat, battered by European critics who want to scuttle it as the surrogate for the EU-U.S. trade negotiations. It’s clear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should lead a Team Canada mission, along with Canadian premiers, to Europe to make the political case for the deal.

Finally, and most importantly, there is the Brexit vote – the June 23 referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

Those who back the status quo say the debate is already hurting the British economy, while those who would leave argue that the country’s economy is being held back by the overly bureaucratic EU. What’s clear is that a British departure from the EU is sure to spur another, likely successful, Scottish separatist vote. It would also embolden Euro-skeptic voices on the continent.

For Canadian leadership to watch this European storm in silence and equanimity is both foolish and mistaken.

During his recent visit to Europe, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke out vigorously in defence of European integration, telling Britons: “[A]s your friend, let me say that the EU makes Britain even greater.” Mr. Obama also warned Britons that dreams of a transatlantic trade deal with the United States to compensate for Brexit was “not going to happen any time soon.”

To the outrage of the Brexiters, Mr. Obama’s outspoken visit had the desired impact, with betting on Brexit dropping 10 points.

Now it’s our turn. It is time for Canadian friends of the United Kingdom within the European Union to speak out. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should share the Canadian experience with federalism.

He can start with Pierre Trudeau’s collected works. Trudeau the elder famously defined federalism this way: “Federalism has all along been a product of reason in politics … it is an attempt to find a rational compromise between the divergent interest-groups which history has thrown together; but it is a compromise based on the will of the people.”

In one of his first speeches, to mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion spoke eloquently and without notes on federalism. That speech should be reprised.

Mr. Trudeau could also draw from a speech by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, given at the encouragement of then-prime minister Jean Chrétien, at Mont Tremblant in October, 1999. Mr. Clinton cast aside his prepared notes, telling his audience that “without pretending we can cut all the cords that bind us to the rest of humanity, I think more and more and more people will say, you know, this federalism, it’s not such a bad idea.”

Canadian federalism is in perpetual evolution. Our provinces serve as incubators of variations on medicare and now carbon pricing, while the federal government stays focused on big national projects such as cross-Canada rail, roads and soon, we hope, new pipelines that will also supply energy to Europe.

There is a malaise across the Western world of which the current European storms are one manifestation. There is a doubting of political representation (especially traditional political elites) and a reshuffling of political systems. Our interdependence is amplifying that anxiety.

Western liberalism, of which federalism is an increasingly core component, is a powerful and hardy model. But it needs regularly to be renewed and reformed with fresh ideas. Canadian leadership must not be shy about speaking to our experience and continuing faith in federalism.

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Three Amigos Summit

Justin Trudeau rolling out the Liberal red carpet for Mexico and U.S. presidents

Barack Obama will address Parliament, Enrique Pena Nieto gets state dinner with Mexican art

By Chris Hall, CBC News Posted: May 05, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: May 05, 2016 12:28 PM ET

U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, will attend the so-called Three Amigos summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa at the end of June.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, will attend the so-called Three Amigos summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa at the end of June. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

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Justin Trudeau came to office promising to restore Canada’s relations with its North American neighbours. If dinner and speaking invitations are your measure well, then he’s off to a great start.

Trudeau will play host in the final week of June to U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto at the first gathering of the so-called Three Amigos to be held in Canada in nearly a decade.

This shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s Canada’s turn after all.

But the leaders were supposed to have gathered here last year. Instead, former prime minister Stephen Harper postponed the summit amid disputes with the U.S. over the now-rejected Keystone XL pipeline, and with Mexico over his government’s decision to require all Mexicans to have a visa to travel to Canada.

Harper knew there was no recipe for success if the summit went ahead.

Pena Nieto, in particular, already cancelled a 2015 visit with a delegation of business leaders in protest against the visa requirement. It was unlikely he would even have come if invited. But he is now, in large part because Trudeau has promised to lift the requirement.

Dinner and a speech

And the summit isn’t really the main political event when the three leaders arrive in Ottawa next month.

The prime minister has also invited Obama to address Parliament, an invitation he extended when the president feted him in Washington two months ago.

And, not to play favorites, Pena Nieto will be in Ottawa ahead of the summit for a state visit of his own. It includes a formal dinner hosted by the prime minister at the National Gallery of Canada where a special exhibit of Mexican art is planned.

So. A summit. An address to Parliament. A gala dinner.  Amigos de nuevo. Friends again. Even if friendship only goes so far in politics.

‘Dirty words’

The real measure of the relationship, as always, is what gets done.

“I think they need to make a new commitment to North America,”  Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, DC, said Wednesday on the podcast edition of CBC Radio’s The House.

“If you listen to any of the U.S. election coverage right now: North American trade. Immigration. Canada. Mexico. These are all dirty words in the campaign.”

Just listen to Donald Trump. He’ll build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and make the Mexicans pay for it if elected president. He’ll rip up NAFTA.

It’s the kind of rhetoric that grabs headlines and dominates political talk shows. Breaking through with discussions of harmonizing regulations or reducing trade barriers are hardly the tools to do it.

Midweek pod: return of the Three Amigos

25:58

A legacy address

“Trump is going to be the elephant in the room,” says former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.

“Part of what this exercise is going to be about at the end of June, is to shore up and provide insulation for both the Canadians and Mexicans against what might come, and to take full advantage of Obama’s desire for a legacy which includes North America.”

Obama US Canada

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Prime Minister Justin shake hands following the conclusion of a joint news conference March 10 at the White House. The two leaders asked officials to report back within 100 days on how to address the softwood lumber issue. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Obama, no doubt, will say all the right things in his Parliamentary address about Trudeau’s shared commitment to address climate change. He’ll pledge to continue to work cooperatively on border security and harmonizing government regulations. But there’s no escaping that his time in office is rapidly running out. His ability to get any new initiatives through Congress, may already have.

For example, softwood lumber. Obama and Trudeau gave their senior trade officials until June 12 to work out a way to prevent another trade war over softwood lumber. Sources say a solution is unlikely.

Ditto on efforts to update NAFTA to reflect new trading realities.

Mexican travellers looking for reprieve

Trudeau takes a sunnier view.

“One of the things any U.S. president and Canadian PM will always agree on is the need to create economic growth and prosperity for our citizens,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “We all know that trade is an important part of creating that.”

Fair enough, but both Robertson and Dawson believe the real opportunities in June rest with Mexico, at least in the short-term as Americans choose a new president.

The first step is to address the visa requirement imposed in 2009 by the Harper government after a spike in refugee claimants arriving from Mexico.

That will take time. As an interim, Dawson expects Canada to accept Mexican travellers who hold a U.S. visa, and for Canada to include Mexico among the first countries to qualify for the Electronic Travel Authorization introduced in March for visa-exempt travellers arriving in Canada.

But Robertson says there’s much more that can be done without the U.S..

“We should go and recruit 500,000 Mexican students to Canadian universities. Mexico has a middle-class population of 40 million. They’ve got students looking for places. Why not bring them to Canada? We’ve got university capacity. That would make a profound difference in the Canada/Mexico relationship.”

It’s one of a number of measures where progress can be made in the North American relationship, especially when the biggest of the Three Amigos is pre-occupied at home.

Wednesday May 04, 2016

Return of the Three Amigo

Then, after more than two and a half years, the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will convene next month in Ottawa for a summit.

So what does the return of the Three Amigos mean for the state of the North American relationship?

“It’s tremendously significant,” says Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

“I think this is a new commitment from Canada to the whole North American project.”

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson agrees, telling Chris Hall the upcoming summit is a signal that Canada is back in the game in North America.

“We’ve been a dog in the manger on the North American side — it’s been really Mexico and the United States, and we’ve been sor tof an unwilling partner,” Robertson says.

“Certainly the Mexicans see in Mr. Trudeau someone who understands the broad concept of the Americas, but now we have to deliver and that’s what [the meeting] is all about.”

Both Dawson and Robertson share their insights into the trilateral relationship and their hopes for what the summit will achieve, including a North American climate framework and a boost to Canada-Mexico relations — no matter who occupies the Oval Office after the U.S. presidential election.

“We need to encourage Canada and Mexico to align together on many, many more issues,” Dawson says. “Canada and Mexico have not had a united front. Canadians and Mexicans need to speak much more about what their common objectives are in North America.”

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