Fight or flight: on canada’s aid to africa

According to the Canadian International Development Agency, Canada is one of the front-running countries that allocate a significant part of their national budget to foreign aid, assisting developing countries worldwide. The country identified their 20 priority countries, and most of these countries were from the sub-Saharan Africa.

However, in present Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration, seven African countries were dropped from the list. Presently, the only African countries in focus are Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Sudan, and Tanzania. In a July 11, 2010 news article by Tonda McCharles from The Toronto Star’s online news site, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s commitment to giving aid to Africa is put to question.

The author examines Prime Minister Harper’s intentions in his recent projects to aid Africa, such as his support for the Next Einstein Initiative (NEI), which aims to establish mathematical centers across Africa over the next decade. He implies that Harper is only creating a stir in order to chase and secure votes for a seat in the United Nations Security Council, when in fact, before supporting the NEI, Harper has allegedly been neglecting Africa, even dropping seven African countries off Canada’s priority list.

Harper’s dedication in helping Africa is further scrutinized later on in the article when past Prime Minister Paul Martin gave his two cents on the subject, as he assessed Harper’s administration’s performance in giving aid to Africa versus his, saying that the present government under Harper did not meet the commitment that his administration had set. The author later on expressed that Martin is disappointed with Harper’s lack of commitment to Africa mainly because he sees that Canada has a “ moral obligation” to help Africa, and Harper is not in line with that vision.

The news article is clearly a critique on Prime Minister Harper and his administration, just like former Prime Minister Paul Martin is. It is inevitable that oppositions in the government happen. However, in an issue such as providing aid for a developing country, just like the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, it is depressing that instead of tackling the matter in a way that there is a productive end to the matter, the debacle on Africa’s aid has only gone futile in the time being.

Opposing views are good only if they provide solutions to an issue. Prime Minister Martin’s concerns are valid and are worthy of acknowledging, especially by the present administration; on the other hand, one cannot judge Prime Minister Harper’s intentions right away as there is no way it can be validated. If only both sides are open in listening to each other’s interests and are willing to meet in the middle, then this would need not resort in a national debate.