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Publications - June 7, 2001
 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE

COMITÉ PERMANENT DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÈRES ET DU COMMERCE INTERNATIONAL

EVIDENCE

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus*to]

Thursday, June 7, 2001

• 0907

[English*to]

The Chair (Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.)): Colleagues, I'd like to call this meeting of the committee to order.

We have with us this morning the Honourable Maria Minna, Minister for International Cooperation. Madam Minister, we'd like to thank you for coming.

For the purpose of those watching this on television, this is the usual hearing of the committee to consider the estimates of the department.

Minister, I'd first like to say that, as everybody on the committee knows, originally our hearing on the estimates had to be postponed because of the death of your mother, and on behalf of the committee members, I'd like to express our condolences to you. We hope everything is well now for you and your family, and we wish you well.

The Honourable Maria Minna (Minister for International Cooperation): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: I'm sorry we had to put off the meeting for that personal reason of yours. We appreciate your coming back at this time, and we've extended the time for estimates to enable us to do it that way.

As one other comment, colleagues, I put in the House yesterday the completed Caucasus report. I'd like to thank, on your behalf, Jim Lee, Gerry Schmidt, and our capable staff for the amount of work that went into doing that report, over the election and all the other complicating factors.

Without any further comments, apart from welcoming the Right Honourable Joe Clark—it's nice to have you here in the committee—I'll ask the minister to make her introductory comments, and then we'll go to questions.

Minister.

Ms. Maria Minna: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that I was able to come late another day. It's difficult when you have a schedule and your life is somewhat turned upside down, but I appreciate your consideration very much.

I have also this opportunity to present to you my department's report on plans and priorities for 2001-02.

[Translation*to]

Before I begin my remarks, I would like to recognize the new members who have joined the Standing Committee since my last appearance. I welcome your questions and comments on the work of the Canadian International Development Agency and I look forward to your insights.

• 0910

[English*to]

Our raison d'être as an agency is to support sustainable development in order to reduce poverty in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and we also support democratic development and economic liberalization in the former Soviet-bloc countries of central and eastern Europe—all of this to help create a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world for Canadians.

Many people feel that world poverty is inevitable, that there will always be poor people no matter what we do. This is just plain wrong.

[Translation*to]

Over the past several decades, we have made remarkable progress in some key areas - life expectancy, literacy, access to safe, clean water, to name but a few.

But our work must continue. With almost a quarter of the world's 6 billion people still living in extreme poverty, we have a moral obligation to help our fellow human beings. And it is also in Canada's best interests. The best way to ensure a safe, secure and prosperous future for Canadians is to establish a world of secure, prosperous nations.

[English*to]

Poverty is the source of many problems—social, economic, political—that can sweep across borders. The fact that new strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis show up in Canada is just one example. That's why Canada must continue to help reduce world poverty. The best way to do this is to work alongside less prosperous countries to help them make their governments more effective, their markets more efficient, and their education and health systems accessible to all.

The report on plans and priorities that I present to you today is our practical approach for achieving that broader vision.

[Translation*to]

Last year when I appeared before this Committee, I described CIDA's intention to strengthen its contribution to social development, in four specific priority areas - health and nutrition; basic education; fighting HIV/AIDS; and protecting children. I am pleased to report that my Department developed a funding framework for these social development priorities, which will double our overall investment in these areas over a five-year period. In fact, work is well underway in all four priority areas, and we're even ahead of our spending targets for health and nutrition, basic education and fighting HIV/AIDS.

[English*to]

Those of you who followed the events of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City may have noticed that poverty reduction and social issues were very prominent in our leaders' statements. What CIDA is doing through its social development priorities—fighting HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, supporting basic education in Haiti, and strengthening primary health care in Nicaragua—is exactly what our neighbours across the Americas are calling for.

Looking ahead to this fiscal year, we will continue working on two important planning initiatives, which are described in the report on plans and priorities.

The first is a longer-term review of how we can make our development assistance more effective. Its purpose is twofold: to explore new approaches to programming in a constantly changing global environment; and to ensure CIDA's continued relevance.

The second planning exercise was part of the government-wide requirement to table sustainable development strategies in Parliament. But for CIDA, this is much more than complying with a legal requirement. As I said earlier, sustainable development is our raison d'être. Consider this definition:

    Meeting the needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given, while recognizing limits based on the state of technology, social organizations and the environment itself.

That's how the World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development and keeps the focus on reducing poverty. If we do not reduce poverty, there will be precious little sustainable development. And, conversely, truly sustainable development is the best way to reduce poverty.

[Translation*to]

CIDA's Sustainable Development Strategy 2001-2003 integrates the work of both our Social Development Priorities and our longer-term review of aid effectiveness. In fact, the Sustainable Development Strategy should become CIDA's one-stop business plan for the future.

It articulates long-term policy, program, and management goals in line with the Agency's mandate. It sets out the objectives that support these goals, and the strategies we will put in place to achieve them.

• 0915

The Report on Plans and Priorities which I'm presenting to you today describes how CIDA intends to make this Strategy its overall business plan, and how we intend to report to Parliament every year on our progress towards its goals.

[English*to]

I would like to conclude my remarks by emphasizing Canada's contribution as a global player in international development. The international community has adopted a number of specific targets for international development, summed up in the OECD document Shaping the 21st Century*to. These targets are also endorsed by the G-7, the United Nations, the World Bank, and the IMF.

I will just remind the committee members of two overarching targets among these: to reduce by 50% the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015; and ensure that all countries have and implement a sustainable development strategy by 2005. Poverty reduction and sustainable development—this is what CIDA does. This is what the international community wants to achieve.

Ladies and gentlemen, this government is going to continue to increase Canada's contribution to achieving these global targets. With the recent increase in its official development assistance, with the policy and management changes that I've described today, I can fairly say that Canada hasn't been in a better position to make its mark for some time.

[Translation*to]

I look forward to answering your questions.

[English*to]

Mr. Chairman, those are my remarks. I look forward to your questions and dialogue. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.

We'll go to the usual period of questions. Mr. Obhrai.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank the minister for appearing before the committee today.

Canadians have a proud tradition of generous development assistance. Foreign assistance to developing countries has been a hallmark of Canadian foreign policy since the 1960s. Canadians across the country support Canada's involvement in development and humanitarian aid, but want cost-effective aid programs, not patronage or abuse of public funds.

The Canadian Alliance has been very clear in our support of development and humanitarian aid that is targeted, effective, and monitored. We want to ensure that CIDA funds spent on aid actually help those who need aid. We have called upon the government to implement mechanisms to ensure more parliamentary oversight of CIDA, including the formation of a special committee of the House that will regularly examine and scrutinize every activity of CIDA. The Canadian Alliance believes that Parliament should be more directly involved in the operations of CIDA; otherwise, the agency will continue to be vulnerable to criticism of mismanagement, patronage, and abuse of funds.

I would like to put before the committee again today the importance of ensuring parliamentary oversight of CIDA to reaffirm the public's confidence in the agency's ability to manage funds at its disposal. Until that time, however, I move the following six notices of motion, Mr. Chairman, to the estimates of CIDA. I ask the chair if he would allow me to explain the rationale for each motion and then allow a vote.

Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.): Is this a point of order, Mr. Chairman, or is this just a point of information?

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Why would it be a point of order?

Mr. Stan Keyes: I thought we were questioning the witness.

The Chair: This is true, but we're going to have to move to this anyway. I spoke to Mr. Obhrai before, and with the minister's permission.... If he wants to use his ten-minute period for questioning, he will have lost that opportunity to ask questions of the minister.

These motions will be put before the committee and you can review them.

Mr. Stan Keyes: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Point of order?

Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome—Missisquoi, Lib.): Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

[Translation*to]

Mr. Chairman, I'd like to know if proper advance notice was given of the tabling of these motions?

The Chair: I consulted the clerk and since this meeting had been postponed, it was decided that the opposition would have every opportunity to table motions of this nature this morning.

Mr. Denis Paradis: However, according to our Standing Orders, two days' prior notice must be given. We didn't receive these motions until this morning.

The Chair: That's correct, except that the standing orders apply to new business. This is not new business, but is related to past activities. In my opinion, everything is in order.

• 0920

[English*to]

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Mr. Chairman, I move that vote 20, in the amount of $138,423,000, less the amount voted in interim supply, be reduced by $588,000 under CIDA. My rationale for that is to cut funding for failing programs, to stop improperly awarding lucrative contracts to retired public servants. So I move through this motion that the amount be reduced to zero.

On motion number two, the administration cost has jumped from 5.3 of CIDA's budget in 2000-2001 to 6.8 in 2001-2002, an increase of $35 million. Canadians want their aid dollars going to the people who need it, not for added bureaucracy. So I move that this motion reduce the amount to zero.

Motion number three.... The Auditor General has been highly critical of CIDA for awarding a $6.3 million contract to Transelec when it failed to meet the relevant experience and Canadian ownership criteria on the application. I would like to quote what Mr. Bassett said about awarding the $6.3 million contract to Transelec: “I think the point is for us, if he made a mistake on this one”. So I move that we reduce the $6.3 million to zero.

I move to motion number four. A recent article in Maclean's*to magazine highlighted the Russian nuclear safety program and Canada's contribution to it. The Canadian taxpayer has been duped into paying $60 million over the last 10 years to fund unsafe reactors in Russia, without effecting new safeguards. CIDA's own officials have admitted this project has been a failure. The original purpose of this program was to shut down unsafe reactors and to help create safeguards for the industry. Now Canada, through the G-7, has been asked to contribute $300 million more to the Russian nuclear program and expend unsafe reactors to create MOX fuel. So this motion reduces the estimated $300 million, the amount of new funding being asked from Canada.

On motion five, Mr. Chairman, on April 25 I asked this minister why her department provided $400,000 of taxpayers' money to the UN program earmarked for assistance and security development, a program aimed at tackling gun-running in west Africa. This program has been exposed as a complete failure. So this motion calls for this estimate to be reduced by $400,000.

Motion number six, Mr. Chairman, says that despite the decision by the World Bank and USAID to refuse to fund the Manantali dam project due to potential for serious health and environmental problems, CIDA chose to fund the project to the tune of $76 million. The Manantali dam has had severe impact on regional ecology, on agricultural production, fisheries, and public health. So this motion calls for the reduction of the estimates by the amount $76 million, Canada's contribution to this dam project.

What I have here, Mr. Chairman, is targeting specific programs that have been identified by the Auditor General and everybody as having the potential that CIDA has not used its money effectively. So I am calling specifically for these programs to be reduced so that we can send the message that we want monitoring and we want safeguards put in place.

Despite what this minister has said and what previous ministers have said, the cycle keeps repeating every time the Auditor General does anything. We do not seem to be seeing a consistent attempt to bring accountability to these projects, Mr. Chairman. Hence, this motion.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Obhrai.

There are four minutes left on your time. I think we should give the minister an opportunity to respond to the observations you made in the course of your motions.

In case you're following the procedure, colleagues, those who have their copy of the estimates in front of them will know that the only two line items that we have before us today are items 20 and 25 in the estimates that were voted. All the other estimates have been passed by the House. So that's why Mr. Obhrai has referred to vote 20 and vote 25. You can find that at page 9-2 in your estimates if you want to follow the motions.

Right Honourable Mr. Clark, you had a point of order.

The Right Honourable Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC): I have a question.

• 0925

Mr. Obhrai has specified his concerns associated with the particular amounts of reductions he wants to achieve. Does his specifying those concerns in open committee mean that if those are voted, the cuts would occur in precisely the programs he has identified?

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: That would be my intent, yes.

Mr. Joe Clark: But procedurally.

The Chair: I think Mr. Clark understands that's your intent. He's just trying to find out whether that's what will happen or not.

I will take that question under advisement and get back to you on it, Mr. Clark. That's a good question.

[Translation*to]

Mr. Paquette.

Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): On a point of order. I simply want to point out that in the last motion, the amounts quoted are not the same in the French and English versions.

Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Ah yes, the two solitudes.

The Chair: I'm sorry. We should ask Mr. Obhrai which amount is correct: $400,000 or $76 million?

[English*to]

Mr. Obhrai, could I take it as a rectification for the record that in fact it's the $76 million referred to? So in French is should read

[Translation*to]

$76 million, not $400,000.

[English*to]

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: I must say, somebody is awake today.

The Chair: Colleagues, that's a procedural matter. Let's give the minister an opportunity to speak to these issues.

Minister, perhaps we could go back and take Mr. Obhrai's observations as questions about those particular programs, if you have any comments you'd like to make.

Ms. Maria Minna: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I will try to address all of the different issues the honourable member has raised.

Firstly, I take absolute affront at the premise of the question and at the premise of all of the motions and at the premise of the honourable member's position with respect to the fact that CIDA funds are totally mismanaged, that CIDA funds are used strictly for patronage and all of that kind of stuff.

Quite frankly, Mr. Chairman, we have probably one of the tightest monitoring systems in this shop. It's not perfect, and I'm not here to suggest to you that it is, Mr. Chairman. But I'll tell you that out of $1 billion that the Auditor General audited, he found that 97% of the programs were well run, and he identified areas of improvement, which we have implemented most of by now. The internal audits we have in the system, all of which are released to the public as soon as they are ready. Many of what the honourable member is referring to are in fact part of our monitoring system.

The audits in our system are asked for by the managers. Whenever a manager of a project identifies or has any suspicion or concerns that there might be some problem, he or she asks for an audit. The audit is a mechanism or a tool to identify the problems and improve and fix the problem. That is done on an ongoing basis. We have an average of two audits a week going on in the department right across the system.

So the suggestion the honourable member is making that the funds at the department are mismanaged is totally false, inaccurate. I would suggest that he take some time to really take a look at how the department is run and how the programs are run, and maybe take some time to go on the ground and visit some of the projects, actually visit the programs on the ground in different parts of the world and talk to the organizations where they're being delivered and see the benefit they are producing on the ground. I think it's much too easy to sit back and....

I think the honourable member is confusing two issues. He keeps talking about humanitarian aid versus development. They are two separate things. Humanitarian aid is when we respond to famine, to disasters in the world. Long-term development is a totally different situation. It deals with helping countries to become self-sufficient. That's why we refer to it as sustainable development. This is very fundamental to eradication of poverty and to ensuring that countries in our world that are poor and suffering in fact do become self-sufficient, are able to look after their citizens in terms of eradication of poverty as well as health, nutrition, and education, and create strong democracies and a much more stable world for their citizens and also for ourselves. So I think there is some very strong misunderstanding here.

• 0930

With respect to the $35 million that the honourable member is suggesting was an increase in administration, if you will recall, we had an election in November, so the real increase in the operating budget of fiscal year 2001-2002 is zero. The apparent increase of $35 million, as shown in the allocation table of the RPP, was last year's 2000-2001 increase reflected only now because of the use of Governor General's warrants during the election period. The increase was primarily for the departmental information, technology renewal, and upgrading of scientific and technical resources.

One of the things that the audits in fact show is that we need to upgrade our technical systems and databases in the department. Those things need to be done if we are in fact going to do the kind of monitoring and the kind of work that the honourable member is referring to.

I'm just going to go through some of them. Of the $400,000, peacebuilding is very important to us to be able to deliver developmental programs. If we have conflict, we cannot deliver developmental programs. We cannot develop or assist the country to become self-sufficient. As you know, there are many parts of the world where conflict is a major issue. CIDA is very involved, not in the conflict itself, but in assisting with peacebuilding on the ground, in working with civil society, and many other programs. Again, that is very fundamental to us.

As far as Transelec, I think I will go to that next because I think the honourable member made some assertions with respect to it that were quite misinformed. When Transelec was part of the bidding process, this was part of a competitive process. The company was not disqualified. There were a number of prequalifications that the company had to meet, and all of them were under the rules at that time, which have now changed. By the way, Mr. Chairman, I am proud to say that we have in fact now changed that system, and we now have an open, transparent, competitive system. The contracts go on the MERX—

Mr. Joe Clark: [Inaudible—Editor*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: It was not, Mr. Clark. In fact, it was open, but it was not the same. The system we have now is much better than the system under which you presided at the time. We changed it.

What I'm saying is that the system at the time was that there would be a prequalification by the department, and then the companies would be sent to the minister. That was the system. One of the items of prequalification was previous international experience. That was the only item that Transelec omitted to fill in. It filled all others. The evaluator—this has nothing to do with me or anyone else—in the department knew full well that the company did in fact have international experience. Even with that point, it marked second of the seven companies that were sent forward. It had one of the highest marks regardless. It was sent forward as part of seven companies to the minister's office. The minister then chose companies that went to bid, as was the process at the time. Transelec came forward with a proposal which was $2 million, or 30%, under any other bidder, and the project has now been finished within budget.

Mr. Chairman, there were seven eligible companies that were sent forward to the minister's office. As I said, the Transelec bid was 30% lower than all of the others. Those are the facts.

I can go on to all of the points if you like, Mr. Chairman, or I can stop there. Quite frankly, I'll just end up by saying, with respect, that the honourable member's premise of wanting to cut the programs at CIDA is not different from what was the honourable member's position and this party's position during the election and since then. I see the motion that the budget—which he intends to move later, I suppose—be cut by $588 million. That doesn't surprise me at all because there is no commitment to development. I think it's a matter of policy and principle here, whether we are or are not committed to development.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Can I ask her to table the document she talked about just now?

The Chair: I beg your pardon?

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Can I ask her to table the document she talked about—Transelec information?

Ms. Maria Minna: I don't have a document here. There's access to those documents through the Access to Information Act.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: I'm sure you can table them.

• 0935

The Chair: The minister is consulting the notes, which she gets from Mr. Good, which she's entitled to—

Ms. Maria Minna: Yes, these are not documents. These are my personal notes, with respect.

Mr. Joe Clark: Again, Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, this is an unusual proceeding, and there is an interest in having all of the facts available. There are applications under access to information. We have some in with respect particularly to Transelec. They have not been fast in replying.

I wonder if, in the spirit of this extraordinary meeting, the minister would not agree to make available, on a case that is now closed and where there is no commercial confidentiality in place...if she would not agree to lay upon the table as a gesture of goodwill to parliamentarians all of the documents with relation to Transelec—those raised in Mr. Obhrai's questions and others that might be raised here.

I think that would be a gesture of goodwill that could go some distance toward helping CIDA and helping the parliamentary committee. I wonder if she might consider that.

Ms. Maria Minna: Again, Mr. Chairman, we have already sent out a great deal of information on Transelec. We've had a lot of requests, and we have sent them out. A delay and an error occurred with the Bloc Québécois, which we wrote to and apologized. There was a mistake in the system, and we corrected that immediately as soon as I found out about it.

But of course, subject to commercial privacy laws and so on...as the honourable member understands, that's part of the process. The information we have already released on Transelec can of course be released again, if the honourable member.... I imagine that he's already received some, but anything that we've already released.... I know that the honourable member from the Bloc Québécois may already have that information that we released to them.

The Chair: Well, maybe you could consider it when Mr. Clark's time for questions comes up. He may have something precise in terms of a specific document, and we could deal with it that way, because it's a little unfair to other members who want to ask questions if we take up the time in this way.

I'm going to move now to Madam Lalonde.

[Translation*to]

Before I turn the floor over to Ms. Lalonde

[English*to]

to answer the Right Honourable Mr. Clark's question about whether or not the reductions requested in the motions to reduce line items 20 and 25 would affect the specific programs or whether they would just come out of the global sums, our understanding is that since Mr. Obhrai did specify the very programs to which he was addressing those cuts, they would have to come out of those programs. They would not just reduce the general amounts set out in the estimates.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Lalonde.

Ms. Francine Lalonde: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Since we have you here, I want to put this question to you first: what steps to you intend to take to ensure that Canada increases, rather than decreases, its level of ODA?

Canada is among the least generous donor countries in the world, according to the figures released by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As a percentage of GNP, Canada's Official Development Assistance spending placed it 17th among 22 donor countries in 2000, down from 12th place in 1999 and from 6th place in 1995. This is according to a statement by CCIC President and Director General Barr. Canada is not even close to the average level ODA, which is .39 per cent of GDP.

Canada's image cannot help but be tarnished by the OECD's announcement that in terms of social spending, this government ranks 25th among the 20 OECD member countries, coupled with the news of our 17th place ranking among 22 donor nations.

What steps to you intend to take to address this situation? What are your objectives? That's my first question.

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: Yes, of course. Thank you, Madam Lalonde.

You're right. Our ODA-to-GNP ratio has fallen to 0.25, according to our figures, from 0.28. However, as you will recall, this is largely due to the fact that our economy is doing very well, so despite the increase that we received in the last budget.... It's important to know that we did have an increase in our budget of $435 million over three years. We are doing more than we were before. We have expanded programs in some areas, especially with respect to HIV and AIDS, which is a major issue around the world, and also with protection of children and education and health issues.

• 0940

As I said, the Canadian economy is growing faster, and hence the drop in the ratio. However, as you know, in the—

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: And the wealthy?

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: —Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister has made a commitment to increase CIDA's budget. In the House very recently he also referred to his commitment, in answer to a question in the House, that he intends to increase the ODA budget for Canada, and I'm very sure he will be doing that.

I can't tell you whether it's today or tomorrow, but I know that commitment is there on the part of the Prime Minister and that will take place. In the meantime, within our own system we have fine-tuned a lot of the programs we deliver and we have begun to look at new effective approaches of delivery systems as well.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: Excuse me, but I asked what recommendations you planned to make. Could you give us some idea at least? You're the designated Minister for International Cooperation, after all.

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: I'm obviously going to recommend an increase, absolutely. That's my job. I have done so, and I do that on a regular basis when I meet with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. At the cabinet table I have done so; I have put forward a case for CIDA for an increase, and I will continue to do that. I have a commitment, and we all do publicly as well, from the Prime Minister that he will do so.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: I asked you a question last year about tied aid and I finally received an answered from Mr. Good. I have here a copy of the committee report in which Mr. Good stated the following:

    At this stage, I would have to say that most of this amount—if I had to choose an arbitrary figure, I would say 75 per cent, but that's just a guess - goes back to Canadian businesses.

In the consultation paper that was drafted, we read that according to studies done by the World Bank and the OECD, tied aid represents additional direct costs of between 15 and 30 per cent, which means that developing countries pay on average from 15 to 30 per cent more for goods and services supplied under tied aid.

The paper goes on to say that some NGOs want provisions to untie aid to be widely introduced, whereas the business community is opposed to this idea, fearing that other businesses will benefit from the windfall. Meanwhile, impoverished and indebted countries end up paying more for products, with Canadian companies ultimately benefiting from this situation. What concrete measures do you plan to introduce to put an end to this practice?

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: As you may or may not be aware, we have been working with respect to untying aid with our partners in the development assistance committee of the OECD. There was an agreement to untie aid to about 49 of the poorest countries in the world, and Canada is a part of that agreement. This is an important step toward untying aid with our program.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: However, no action has yet been taken.

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: No. With respect to the countries I was mentioning, that is something that is happening. It was agreed to at the DAC meetings to untie aid to 49 of the poorest countries in the world. Canada is part of that; therefore, we are proceeding with that, as we speak. We are also analysing other actions that we as a country independently may also take with respect to that. So there has been a recent movement in that area. There is 33% of untied aid for the rest of the countries; the poorest countries will be completely untied, the 49 of the DAC meetings.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: Mr. Chairman, could the committee be apprised of the progress made in the untying of aid to see how these measures would actually apply and to ensure that we don't merely settle for a decision reached at the OECD level? Would that be possible?

• 0945

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: Madame Lalonde, as I said in my presentation when I first started, we will be having public consultations on what we call aid effectiveness, which is a review of our business, what we do. Untied aid is part of that. So there will be in fact a public discussion on that issue in this country, at this table, I'm assuming, in addition to what we have been doing as a department with respect to the OECD agreement now in place. That definition is an issue that will continue to be discussed in an open manner.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: However, for the time being, it's the status quo.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Lalonde.

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: No, with respect, Madame Lalonde, I did say we have agreed. Canada is part of the DAC agreement of the OECD to untie all aid to 49 of the poorest countries. That is something we are in fact doing.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: However, consultations will focus on this issue as well.

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: Yes, of course. The consultation will be on all the rest of the tied aid we still have, but for the 49 poorest countries, we have untied aid is what I'm saying.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: What I'm asking then is that...

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: In certain categories, but the discussion will continue, yes, of course, in a public forum.

[Translation*to]

Ms. Francine Lalonde: I would like the committee to be apprised of the impact of this decision.

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: Absolutely. The paper will come to your committee and you will discuss that. That's one of the main issues in that document, of course.

The Chair: So it's clear, I think.

[Translation*to]

Clearly, the Minister intends in the fall to table documents before the committee. We'll have an opportunity at this time to weigh the practical impact of this decision.

I will now turn the floor over to Dr. Patry.

Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds-Dollard, Lib.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

[English*to]

Thank you, Minister, for being here this morning. It seems that CIDA has four priorities, health and nutrition, as you mentioned, basic education, HIV and AIDS and child protection. As mentioned, Canadian aid is divided in geographic multilateral Canadian partnership programs and in countries in transition.

I have two questions for you this morning. The first one is concerning HIV and AIDS. We know that worldwide there are 60 million people who are infected, and already 25 million have died. In Durban last year there was a big conference concerning the HIV and AIDS plan. What is the Canadian action plan, what are the goals regarding HIV and AIDS, and can you tell us if there is any major progress in the prevention, and mainly on youth?

Secondly, it seems that your department is changing its approach.

[Translation*to]

Instead of taking a project-by-project approach, you seem to be advocating one based on programs, working in cooperation with international agencies. Why the change? Could you elaborate further for us?

Several years ago, CIDA opened its first regional office in Vancouver. It appears that a second office is set to open in Moncton, New Brunswick very shortly. What prompted you to open these offices and have you reached your objectives in Vancouver? Thank you.

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: With respect to AIDS, first I would like to say that CIDA's social development priorities are not the only priorities with CIDA. They are part of our first priority, which is called basic human need. I just want to ensure that people don't think those are the only priorities we have in the department. They were strengthened in the last year, because they are very fundamental to the development.

With respect to AIDS, we have been at the forefront. We were the first country to have an international conference on HIV and AIDS. I in fact established a separate expenditure line, as you can see, on HIV and AIDS, specifically because we felt very strongly at the department that this was a major issue that needed to be addressed. So in addition to basic health and nutrition we also added HIV and AIDS as a separate line. While it's a health issue, it's also an issue of social...and prevention. Over a period of five years we're looking at about $270 million.

• 0950

You will be reading in the press sometime soon, or certainly hearing it, if you haven't already, that there is discussion at the moment of a global health fund, which would assist the issue of drugs, specifically, and prevention. Contributions to the fund would be from donor countries as well as the private sector, and anyone else who wants to donate, obviously. This has come out as a result of the G-8 meeting that was held in Okinawa, and this is a major new initiative to deal with HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis specifically, both in terms of prevention of the disease as well as care.

So HIV/AIDS is an area where we have been extremely involved. We are very involved on the ground with major programs on the ground in AIDS, as well as on the international scene with respect to pushing the issue. So Canada has actually shown quite a lot of leadership on the global fund. At one point it was dubbed the Ottawa fund, because of the fact that a lot of the work was done here in our own country.

With respect to the new approach to development, shifting slightly from project to project, it doesn't mean that projects will not continue to be done at CIDA, but the new program approach is a more effective way of addressing the issue of long-term sustainability and it allows us to work with other partners and other donors.

I'll give you an example that fits in nicely with the issue of HIV/AIDS. In Malawi, we were doing a lot of programs on the ground by ourselves and we were the lead country, if you like, in AIDS. Then Malawi decided to establish a nationwide HIV/AIDS council to really address the issue properly. We decided that we would work with Malawi, and two or three other countries joined us. So in essence, what we now had is a country-wide approach. It's a program approach, and it's called sector-wide approach. This allows us to actually do a much more aggressive long-term program that will allow us to eradicate the problem much faster. And it's must more cost-effective, in that we're not the only partners on the ground on the issue, and it is not project by project.

So the sector-wide approach, or the program-wide approach, is one that we are pursuing more and more with other partners, both not-for-profit and donors, and at the multilateral level. And it works really well in other areas. In education, for instance, while one can build a school in different parts, we're assisting a country to develop an educational institution with teacher training, with a curriculum, with governance and so on, and staying with it long term, for five to ten years. This in fact leaves behind long term a new structure that is sustainable and then becomes part of that country's future. So those are just two examples. Again, it's a new way that's very well recognized in the international community .

With respect to the regional offices, as you know, we have a very large country and it's very difficult sometimes for people to come and access programming or feel comfortable with the systems that are a long way away from them. CIDA is in the Ottawa-Hull area, and of course for the central provinces it's a little bit easier to access sometimes, to come and visit. We wanted to make sure that our partners and stakeholders in the west of Canada, and eastern Canada, Atlantic Canada, were also able to have the same ease of access.

I met in round-table discussions with partners in both regions and there was a sense of alienation that I wanted to mitigate. This is why I opened up a regional office in Moncton just a couple of weeks ago. Its headquarters is in Moncton, but it will be serving Halifax, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. In the west, I will be soon looking to open an office in western Canada, as well. And while, as you know, British Columbia already has one person, we will be reviewing that. That is the reason—it's to improve the effectiveness of our program and to allow for better access for all of our stakeholders in the country.

Mr. Bernard Patry: Ms. Minna, you just mentioned Malawi, but last month in Brussels you were co-chair with the Malawi minister regarding a thematic session about health and nutrition. Is there any change for Canada in terms of its plan d'action*to, in its call regarding health and nutrition?

Ms. Maria Minna: Thank you. Yes, I did chair the LLDC-3, the least developed country meetings of the UN. Canada was asked to chair that, by the way, because we are in fact one of the leaders in the area of health and nutrition. I could give you many examples. As I said, that's another budget line that was doubled as part of the social development priorities, because if children are not healthy they cannot study, and if people are not healthy they cannot work. So we have to address the issue of health and nutrition.

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Just to give you one example with respect to nutrition, Canada is the lead contributor of vitamin A around the world. UNICEF in fact recently wanted to have a major celebration of the one billionth vitamin A pill that was distributed by them as a result of Canada's contribution. In the area, for instance, of polio, I think this committee would be happy to know that we are one year away from the eradication of polio worldwide. It is a disease that has plagued a lot of people, and it gives us hope to know that we can in fact eradicate diseases if we work aggressively together.

Again, more recently I announced $10 million to push that one forward a little faster. We're working in collaboration with other partners such as the Rotary Club, with whom we are matching dollar for dollar the moneys they raise as well.

So in health and nutrition we are very active, and as I say, Canada has a very aggressive action plan on health. Each one of those four, by the way, has been released, with the exception of child protection, which will be released next week, I think. There are specific strategies on each one, and they are available for the committee if you wish to have a copy of our strategies on each one of those four priorities.

[Translation*to]

Mr. Bernard Patry: Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Patry.

[English*to]

Mr. Robinson, sir.

Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'd like to join in welcoming the minister before the committee and also in welcoming my colleague, Joe Clark, before the committee.

I wanted to pick up on a couple of points that were raised earlier.

[Translation*to]

I totally agree with Ms. Lalonde. Canada's ODA spending and plummeting standing among donor countries is shameful.

[English*to]

As a Canadian, I must say I'm ashamed and appalled that Canada's position has dropped to the point that we are now seventeenth among 22 donor countries, as the OECD has identified. I recall in the mid-1980s questioning my friend Joe Clark about the level of aid at that time, when in fact Canada was far higher in relative terms than we are today. The minister has suggested that our percentage has dropped because of the growth in the Canadian economy. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands have all managed to achieve levels of international aid at over 1% of their GNP at a time of growth in their economies as well, so frankly it's sophistry to suggest that this is an acceptable ground for our relative position to decline. I think many Canadians share this profound sense of anger and shame that our government's level is dropping.

I met earlier today with a group of dedicated volunteers from Results Canada. I'm sure the minister is familiar with this organization—

Ms. Maria Minna: Yes, very.

Mr. Svend Robinson: —as are other members around this committee. They are outstanding Canadians who are committed to our country restoring its leadership in this area, in areas such as micro-credit and other areas.

One of the suggestions they made, and I think it's an important and powerful suggestion, is that a signal we can send out that we are serious about restoring our reputation is a major contribution to the global health fund to combat AIDS, malaria, and TB.

Later this month the United Nations is going to be meeting. The minister said we're going to talk about this and you may hear something in the future. Is the minister prepared to have Canada make a very significant contribution to this global health fund, and if so, at what level is the minister prepared to contribute on behalf of Canada to help to restore that reputation and to deal with the devastating pandemic of HIV/AIDS, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa?

Ms. Maria Minna: Thank you.

You're quite right, Canada's aid dropped. I'm not here to be apologetic about that or even to suggest it's acceptable at the level we are at. That is not what I'm saying at all. What I am saying is that there were cuts, as there were cuts everywhere else in the government.

Mr. Svend Robinson: But we've heard this from the minister. I'm asking specifically about the global health fund.

Ms. Maria Minna: No, but I want to finish. I think it's worthwhile to say that there will be increases in the annual budget as well. And by the way, I'm proud to say that Canada took the lead in developing the global health fund. That is why it was called the Ottawa fund. That's what it was dubbed, because it was our department that in fact pulled together the other players around the table to in fact develop it.

Mr. Svend Robinson: So where's the money?

Ms. Maria Minna: The money will be there as well. I am prepared to make a major commitment with respect to the global health fund. I don't have a number to give you today because that's being worked on as we speak, but there will be a substantial announcement made with respect to the global health fund. As I said, I have the four priorities. Health and nutrition and HIV/AIDS has its own line because I have very strong commitment to that issue. There will be a major announcement with respect to the global health fund, most likely around the time of the UN.... I'm working on the budget at the moment.

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Mr. Svend Robinson: As the minister knows, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, along with many others, has urged that Canada commit to reaching the level of 0.35% by the year 2005, as a concrete means of helping to reach the goal of 0.7%. The minister has said that she's meeting with colleagues and pushing for an increase. But is the minister prepared to commit to pushing for that level of aid by 2005?

Ms. Maria Minna: Let me put it this way: I am pushing for a considerable increase. If I come anywhere close to what I'm pushing for, I think the honourable member might not be disappointed.

Mr. Svend Robinson: Well, it's not just the honourable member, it's—

Ms. Maria Minna: It's all our members—and the people, because I want to be clear that I am very committed to pushing and lobbying for an increase—

Mr. Svend Robinson: Is the minister pushing to meet the level of 0.35% by 2005?

Ms. Maria Minna: I'm pushing to meet a level of.... I'm not going to say 0.35%, 0.37%, or 0.40%, but I will tell you that I'm pushing for a considerable increase, and I'm confident that at some point we will be able—

Mr. Svend Robinson: The minister is not prepared to make that commitment, but those who are active in the field—

The Chair: Let her answer.

Ms. Maria Minna: Mr. Chairman, I am saying to the honourable member that I am committed to pushing for a considerable increase, and if I get exactly what I'm pushing for, he will not be disappointed.

I'm not going to give you exactly what my documents say at this point, but let me tell you that I am certainly fighting very hard. I would also like to feel there isn't resistance at the other side. The minister has been very open about wanting to increase from the beginning.

Mr. Svend Robinson: We'll see in the budget, I guess.

Let's talk about targets here. In a letter to Results Canada, the minister indicated that she hoped her leadership initiative for Canada in health and nutrition would directly save some half a million people per year, mostly children. I commend the minister for setting out that specific target under the health and nutrition initiative. However, I note that it's not in the action plan. I hope the minister will confirm today that this is a part of her action plan.

I also want to ask about another commitment the minister made, in Dakar, with respect to gender equity in basic education by 2005. The minister hasn't yet set any quantitative targets for how many girls would be educated under that particular program. I'm not sure if the minister is in a position to give us a figure today, but I would certainly ask that she provide this committee with specific targets for the number of girls who would be educated under that program. Otherwise, there's no way of effectively measuring its success. Is the minister prepared to give us that commitment today, or can she at least undertake to provide it to the committee in the near future?

Ms. Maria Minna: With respect to health and nutrition, we have doubled the budget, as I said earlier, and we have in fact released our strategy paper. I'm not sure if the honourable member has a copy, but we can certainly—

Mr. Svend Robinson: But is the minister saying that an integral part of the action plan on health and nutrition will in fact be to meet the target of saving approximately half a million people per year, mostly children?

Ms. Maria Minna: Exactly that. This is why we have increased our funding in health and nutrition considerably, both in HIV and AIDS, in infectious diseases, and in additional dollars to polio and our micro-nutrient section.

Mr. Svend Robinson: What about targets in gender equity for basic education?

Ms. Maria Minna: Gender equity is one of our major issues, because it cuts across all our programs. We have already been working very aggressively in the area of girl child education. We provided funds to a UNICEF program that has just ended, and if I remember correctly, hundreds of thousands of girls went through. That was specifically targeted at girls around the world. And in Senegal, 200,000 people were educated, and women and girls made up about 80% of that figure.

Mr. Svend Robinson: Madam Minister, with respect, I'm asking a specific question. If the minister can't answer the question now, she can—

Ms. Maria Minna: The international target is to provide education to all girls by 2015.

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Mr. Svend Robinson: What's our target?

Ms. Maria Minna: Our targets are the same—2015. That's the commitment I made in Dakar: that I would work with any country that comes forward with a specific proposal.

Mr. Svend Robinson: I'll come back to the question.

Ms. Maria Minna: The international targets are very clear: that all girl children will be receiving education by 2015. And we have adopted those same targets.

Mr. Svend Robinson: I have a couple of other brief questions, Mr. Chairman.

The minister recently met with the foreign minister of Eritrea, and she is well aware of the very, very pressing needs of that country. I also had the opportunity to meet with the foreign minister. I wonder if the minister could indicate whether she's in a position to confirm to this committee that Canada will be providing significant support to Eritrea.

I'll just put my remaining questions, if I may, and then ask the minister to respond.

The minister will be aware that the situation in southern Sudan and the approaching possible famine could have a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of people. What aid are we prepared to provide to help alleviate the crisis facing the people of southern Sudan?

Finally, I want to ask the minister whether her department is prepared to review its policy with respect to the funding of Peace Brigades International—an outstanding organization that saves countless lives. I had the opportunity in Colombia to meet with some people from Peace Brigades and to hear from people in that country. I also met with our ambassador there, who supports the idea of CIDA providing funding for Peace Brigades International.

So I would ask the minister to review the decision made some years ago to end funding, and perhaps to renew funding for that very important organization.

The Chair: Before you answer, Mr. Robinson's time is up. So maybe you could give us a brief answer about Eritrea, and then reserve the other two for correspondence. You could give a written answer, if that's satisfactory.

Mr. Svend Robinson: I wonder if I might ask to have the same time provided that the minister took to answer Mr. Obhrai's questions. I did review the clock, and I've taken less time in terms of her answers.

The Chair: Mr. Obhrai's questions took 12 minutes, but there were many interruptions on points of order, so we gave him some extra time. You're now into ten and a half minutes, well over your ten. So my suggestion is to give the minister 30 seconds if she wants to give very quick answers—but I understood you to say you wanted a written response.

Mr. Joe Clark: On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I assume there will be other meetings of this committee, since we're meeting under an unusual order of the House, and we have until Tuesday night to hold meetings. Certainly I have plenty of questions and would want the opportunity to have them answered, and there will not be time for the committee to hear mine and others before eleven o'clock.

So rather than rely on written responses, I hope the committee would understand its obligation—since it's operating under a special order of the House—to have far more extensive hearings than those ending at eleven o'clock.

The Chair: Perhaps we'll have to consider that when we get to it. The rule we've adopted for this committee, Mr. Clark, is that when ministers appear on estimates, everybody gets ten minutes on the first round and then we go to five minutes. That's traditional. Your ten minutes will be coming as soon as Mr. Robinson is finished. If we haven't completed the business by eleven o'clock, we'll have to consider what to do at that time.

Mr. Svend Robinson: Mr. Chairman, certainly the minister can attempt to respond. If she's not able to respond to all the questions immediately, then I'm sure all the committee members would appreciate it if she could respond in writing.

The Chair: Actually, I'm quite interested myself in the matter of Peace Brigades International. They've appeared before us, we've met with them, and they're an extremely active and impressive group of young people who work very hard. So we'd all be interested in that, but we don't want to lose the opportunity of getting a full answer just to get an immediate response.

Minister, could we go back to the answers?

Ms. Maria Minna: I'll be as quick as I can.

The Peace Brigades, yes, definitely I'll review that. I don't have the information today and I don't have the updates, but I'll definitely review it. There's no question of that.

Eritrea—yes, we will be working with Eritrea. I met with the Eritrean community in Toronto, as well as the foreign affairs minister. We have been engaged in Eritrea for a long time, but we will continue to provide assistance and increase our peacekeeping presence there, especially with respect to war-affected children in the area. Also, the whole de-mining issue is very important.

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With respect to Sudan, to date in this year, 2001, $4.25 million of food as well as $2.7 million in other humanitarian assistance has already been announced, and we're reviewing further options for humanitarian aid. We can give you additional information on our activities there as well, if you like.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your helpful responses.

Mr. Clark, sir.

Mr. Joe Clark: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I thank the minister for coming. I'd also like to express my sympathy for the passing away of her mother. That has had the consequence of delaying this committee's hearings.

This is a very unusual meeting of the estimates committee. We are meeting under an exceptional order of the House, which has chosen one department for an intensive examination of its estimates before these are approved in the House. I want to reassert my view that if we are to honour the order of the House and the spirit of Parliament in controlling the estimates, we should have the kind of intensive examination of CIDA's estimates that's anticipated in this very unusual order—part of the standing rules of the House.

The minister knows I've been on the ground with CIDA projects, and that I'm very well acquainted with CIDA's administration. I've seen it at its best, I've seen it at less than its best, and I'm here as a friend of CIDA.

In general, my worry is that CIDA has become more a collection of projects and less an international development agency. This is a matter of concern to anyone interested in Canada's traditional and effective role in the world.

I will not recite the figures entered by Madam Lalonde and Mr. Robinson with respect to the precipitous falling away from the target set for Canada by Lester Pearson. It is ironical that a government led by a party in his tradition has paid so little attention, so little respect, to the goal he set. Indeed, this government has been falling back sharply. We hear the promises, but we are deeply troubled by what we've seen of the performance.

I recognize—anyone following this issue recognizes—that there is a growing concern in the world about the effectiveness of traditional models of international development. That has had an effect on levels everywhere. But surely the Canadian tradition should be to be among the leaders, not among the followers, in trying to determine more effective ways to counter the new international realities.

As we revert to projects, we are moving away from being an international development agency, and we are doing less and less—particularly as the proportion of GDP falls and falls as it has.

Now, I was interested in the minister's reference to two important planning initiatives described in the program. One of these planning initiatives suggests “how we can make our development assistance more effective”, and it goes into an elaboration of a twofold purpose.

Mr. Chairman, I'd like to make a suggestion to the committee and to the minister. As you know, we're meeting here because the official opposition has decided that of all the government departments whose estimates were shown by the Auditor General's examinations to be deficient, CIDA stands out. In the view of at least one major party in the House of Commons, there is more concern about the administration of CIDA than about all the other departments.

As a friend of CIDA, I have to say that I think this concern about the agency's administration, and perhaps its loss of purpose, is very widely shared. You have your “important planning initiatives”—that's code language for something you do in-house, and only tell the public about after it has been decided. Perhaps you consult a few people along the way, but it is not really an open process. I know the process, and I know what the language means, and so do others here.

So I wonder if we might have some agreement that as you proceed with these initiatives, perhaps it might be worth looking at striking a special or a joint committee of this House that could take part in the planning initiative. It could work with CIDA officials to ensure that this is done in a genuinely public manner.

This could help us to re-establish the international development agency that made Canada proud and distinctive in the past, and that gave us the kind of international leverage we've enjoyed in trade, human rights, and many other areas. It would ensure that there are regular reporting relations, so that the progress of this so-called internal planning initiative could be monitored by a committee of the House of Commons.

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I think that would open up the process of CIDA, which I think very much needs to be opened up. I think it would be welcomed by your officials. I know it would be welcomed by your officials. It would certainly be welcomed by the community interested in international development. That is one matter on which I would like you to reply in just a moment. I want to go to a specific issue before my time is gone.

I should say, by the way, that in terms of Canada falling behind, we, like Britain, have just announced another debt forgiveness program. I'm familiar with an earlier debt forgiveness program. I'm also familiar with the fact that when Britain forgave debt, Britain moved in with a much more broadly based program to try to help the countries affected by the debt forgiveness. Canada has not. Britain leads; Canada follows. That is not the way it should be. That is not the way it has been historically, and we have to find some way to restore Canadian leadership.

I want to turn quickly now, if I may, to a very specific matter, which, as colleagues will know, interests me, and that has to do with the question of Transelec. I would like to ask some very specific questions.

I take the point that when Transelec won its bid, the system was not as transparent then as now. I'm not interested in discussing then and what brought that system into place. I'm interested in knowing that the system was not transparent when Transelec won.

There was a discussion a moment ago taking account of commercial confidentiality, and I make the point that commercial confidentiality matters less after the project is over than it does when it is being contemplated. We do not want the suspicion arising that matters are being hidden from the public on the Transelec matter. The questions of commercial confidentiality no longer apply. The minister has said that she will make available to the committee information that has already been made available. That's not enough. We need to know the whole file—every jit and tottle of the file—with regard to Transelec. It should be in the public domain. As long as it is hidden away in whole or in part, then there are going to be very deep suspicions about what is going on.

Some specific questions. Did CIDA or the minister receive any intervention on behalf of the Transelec company, or Mr. Claude Gauthier, prior to the company's pre-qualification for the Mali electric grid project? Who made those interventions? Were the interventions written, and will the minister table copies of them with the committee clerk?

Secondly, is the Mali project to supply hydro poles completed? Did the project come in under budget or was there a budget overrun? Was the project successful in meeting its goals?

A third question: has the selection process for contracts or contribution agreements, such as the one Mr. Gauthier and his company qualified for in Mali, been changed? How has it been changed, and can the minister tell the committee if ministers' offices still have considerable discretion in determining short lists of companies eligible to bid on contracts?

Fourth, what other infrastructure projects are ongoing now in Mali? Is Mr. Gauthier, or any of his companies, or companies with which he is associated, currently working on CIDA projects? Has Mr. Gauthier, or any companies he might be associated with, been awarded other CIDA grants, contributions, or contracts? If yes, will the minister provide the committee with details of the contracts or contribution agreements and table them with the committee clerk?

Finally, which seven firms met the criteria for pre-qualification in the Gauthier case, and which three were pre-qualified?

I appreciate the minister's presence here today. I know my time has nearly expired in questions. I look forward to the opportunity for further meetings of this committee before the deadline Tuesday night, so that we can have all of the facts out on this matter and so that we might make a good start on a process in which there is a real reform in CIDA and we will not again be embarrassed by recurrent identification by the Auditor General of CIDA as a badly run department.

Ms. Maria Minna: Mr. Chairman, with respect, I know time is up, but I'd like to make at least three points.

The Chair: Minister, before you do, I'd just like to congratulate Mr. Clark, because I thought Mr. Robinson had perfected the system of asking so many questions there'd be no chance to answer them during the course of....

If I may say, you've trumped Mr. Robinson and seen him; you've raised him and taken all his pot. And I'd like to know what a “tottle” is before we're finished, but maybe the minister can help us with that as well.

Minister, obviously Mr. Clark's time is up, but if you could briefly respond to some of his concerns.... He will possibly have another chance of another five minutes before we're finished. We could come back to specific answers, and if you don't, maybe you could again respond in writing. We'll try to work that out.

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Ms. Maria Minna: Well, there are a lot of them here. I'm sure we can do a lot of them in writing.

Very briefly, first, the contract process is better. There is absolutely no short list that goes to the minister's office. I don't see any of them. The contracts go out to bid on the works and there's a process: there's a committee that looks at them and there's approval. I get these results.

Mr. Joe Clark: That's the new system.

Ms. Maria Minna: That's the new system that we put in place—

Mr. Joe Clark: That's not the system that applied—

Ms. Maria Minna: That's not the system that was in place before.

Mr. Joe Clark: —with Gauthier.

Ms. Maria Minna: No, that was the old system. We've changed it and it's much improved. It's much more transparent. It's an open bidding process for contracts. I don't get a list. It's as simple as that. So it is a better process that we have in place now, but that doesn't mean to say that the process before was not followed.

Just to go back, because it's important, the other is the overall issue—and I appreciate the honourable member's support for CIDA, for ODA, and for how we deliver our program. I beg to differ a bit with the fact that the honourable member is suggesting that the department has fallen apart and is doing such a bad job; it's horrible and all of that. It is not. We are one of the lead countries in the world and well respected on the ground, internationally and by the countries we work in.

Of course we have aid changes and of course we have to change our modality. This is part of our strategy. The heart of our strategy is to move away from project-based programming to what we call program-wide approaches, or sector-wide approaches, or comprehensive development approaches. We are working very closely with—this all started in discussions with the Utstein Group; you may be familiar with what that means. These are counterparts of mine in Europe whom I work with—other development ministers. We are starting on the ground. As I'm speaking, we have already started changing—I was giving examples to the other honourable colleague—with respect to program-wide approaches and comprehensive approaches. So the heart of our strategy is in fact exactly that—restructuring and making our aid on the ground more effective.

The other thing, of course, is that the document to which the honourable member referred to as being an internal document and that we would not be receiving consultation.... In fact, we will be receiving public consultation. Within the document, of course, is the issue of tied aid, which I mentioned earlier to the other member.

So this is a public document. It will be discussed publicly. I will be hoping to hold some consultations on my own across Canada. In addition to that, it will come to this committee after that and there will be further discussions again.

In the meantime, I would like to say that we have a tremendous amount of credibility across the world in how we do our programming. You said you've revisited many programs yourself, and I'm sure you've seen the work on the ground and the quality of the work CIDA does. As I said, as we speak, we have already started to change how we do business on the ground, and we are implementing, as we speak, program-wide programming on the ground.

I'll stop there, Mr. Chairman. I can go on to other specifics, but I'll try to respond to the rest in....

The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.

Madame Marleau.

Ms. Diane Marleau (Sudbury, Lib.): I have two questions.

The first one deals with the Night of 1,000 Dinners. As many of you know, I'm very involved in seeing that there are dinners organized across the country in the quest to raise funds for the Canadian Land Mine Foundation so that they can do more work at de-mining and more work at victim assistance. As you know, we're also working with the United States, and we certainly hope to be going around the world with these dinners. The U.S., I'm told, has agreed to match funds that are raised in the United States by these dinners, and I'm wondering whether CIDA is willing to participate and do some matching of funds that will be raised during these dinners in November. That's my first question.

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My second question has to do with the corruption that exists in many developing countries. I honestly believe that working at poverty eradication is wonderful, but until there is sound administration in most of these governments, unfortunately poverty will remain endemic because there is no sharing.

I know the international financial institutions are beginning to work on that particular aspect. I'd like the minister to elaborate on what has developed further over the last two years with relation to strengthening taxation systems and banking systems so that these governments have moneys to run their affairs properly and corruption doesn't rule in the end.

Ms. Maria Minna: I will start with the honourable member's question with respect to the land mines issue, which is very much of great importance to us. I don't have to remind anyone what land mines do to people, and especially to children.

We are working with the land mines organization very closely. We're not matching dollar for dollar what it will raise, but we are funding that organization at $1 million per year for the next two years to allow it to do the kind of work that it wants to do.

We met recently. We've had some good dialogue. We have a good relationship with them, and it's working reasonable well. We will continue to work with them, because it's very important that not only all of us participate as individuals around the world, but that we as a country that took the lead on land mines internationally work very aggressively on this issue with the land mines organization, as well as in other programs that we have in de-mining with the UN and around the world. That continues to be a major commitment of ours, and we are engaged with this organization very well.

With respect to corruption, there is no doubt that without strong governance and proper contracting processes, due process of law, and things being under control, it is a problem to have strong democracy and eradication of poverty, and so on. This is in fact work that we do. Governance is part of the issue of corruption, because if you have strong governance with strong checks and balances in the system, that is really the best way of dealing with the issue of corruption.

It continues to be a major component of our programs and commitment around the world, and certainly in our own hemisphere as well, because dealing with the capacity of the public service, dealing with the whole judiciary system of checks and balances, of due process of law, and having trained judiciary dealing with regulatory systems and banking systems, and all of that, is very important—and having an ombudsman. These are all programs that we in fact do fund, and in the Americas, we funded recently an actual Internet for ombudsmen, right across the Americas, so they can actually connect and learn from one another.

There's the election support that we have in every country, again. But working with civil society to strengthen and help them understand what their rights and obligations are within the democratic system is also very important. So we continue to work in those areas very aggressively. When you look at development and you deal with health, education, and governance, these are areas that are really, to some degree, the most fundamental, because at the end of the day, you have a well-educated populace, and they also demand more from their country; women are educated. Research I've seen shows very clearly that countries where women have access to resources, education, and what have you, have lower levels of crime and actually do better economically, and so on. So, again, those are very tied.

We continue to do a tremendous amount of work in the area of governance in all those aspects, because they are all very relevant, and they feed into one another.

Ms. Diane Marleau: When we write off debt, I'm always very concerned that while it's a lofty thing to write off debt for a lot of countries that can't make the payments, I want to make sure that it isn't just the wealthy class that ends up benefiting from the writing off of the debt because there's no proper taxation system, and we leave ourselves open to just another debt coming out and it never really getting to the people we want to help.

• 1030

That's a great concern for all of us, I'm sure, and I know there are measures in place to prevent that as much as possible. But I want to encourage you to continue working in these areas, because even though they don't appear to be at the root cause of poverty, they really are the root cause of a lot of the poverty in many of these countries.

Ms. Maria Minna: You're quite right, with respect to the HIPC initiative. As you know, Canada was in fact the first country to announce money for the HIPC process and putting moneys in.

Part of the HIPC conditions, as you also know, are the PRSPs, the poverty reduction strategy plans, which are to be developed by every country that receives the advanced HIPC assistance. Again, because of sometimes the lack of structure within the governance and the ability of a country to have the capacity to even develop the PRSPs properly—because part of the conditions is that they consult with their civil society and their community—there is a need to assist countries, especially the poorest countries, with the development of their PRSPs. Otherwise they're a piece of paper that doesn't mean much in terms of delivering the program.

So the debt reductions are very much tied to poverty reduction. Those are very much cause and effect, and it's very important to note that they are linked. They are linked to programming, and it's a....

The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.

We're now going back to Mr. Obhrai for five minutes.

Colleagues, I just want to give you a heads-up that there should be a bell starting soon. It will be a 30-minute bell, though, so we'll have lots of time. We have to be out of here at 11 o'clock, so we'll have to stop at about 10 minutes before that to enable us to vote on Mr. Obhrai's motion before we conclude. So just keep your eye on that.

Mr. Obhrai.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In response to my question, the minister made two comments that I thought, for somebody who is a minister of the crown, were inappropriate for her office, which was trying to label the Canadian Alliance as being anti-development, or anything.

The fact of the matter is, quite simply, we are the official opposition. When we see that you are wasting taxpayers' dollars, when we see projects are not working, it is our responsibility to bring it to your attention and bring it to Parliament for everybody to know. It's all out there. But for you to come out with that, that was totally uncalled for.

Your second statement, where you personally attacked me by saying that I have not travelled and don't know about CIDA, was absolutely ridiculous. I have to tell you, even before you became a CIDA minister, I was travelling around the world. As a matter of fact, I travelled with that minister around the world, watching CIDA projects, and I've travelled with the Governor-General on two state visits. Not only that, I grew up in a country that is a recipient of CIDA aid, and I saw what CIDA was doing. So that was totally inappropriate.

But let's get to the main point on the questions I brought here. We can have this spat in the House of Commons.

We know, on the MOX program in Russia, CIDA spent $90 million that went down the tube because there is no accountability in that country for monitoring these things. Yet there is a request to give $300 million in additional funding to Russia for its plutonium program.

Today we heard that Russia is going to become an open ground for the world to bring all their plutonium to for processing. So Russia wants to capitalize on this as a commercial thing, and yet we, in Canada, are going to give money to help them do that. I think CIDA, at this stage, has not been approached, but in all likelihood, the Government of Canada will come to the table giving $300 million.

Tell me, is it your position and CIDA's position to oppose any more funding for the plutonium program in Russia?

Ms. Maria Minna: I should tell you a couple of things.

Firstly, I'm glad that the honourable member has visited projects. I'm sorry, I was under the impression he had not, but I'm glad he has. Then all the more reason that I think he has probably seen the kind of good work that CIDA does on the ground. All the more reason I think the honourable member would have seen that most of the programs we delivered on the ground are in fact working.

• 1035

With regard to MOX, I should firstly say that CIDA does not and will not be doing work that has to do with nuclear disarmament, plutonium, and all of that. We do capacity building with regard to assisting in putting in place safety regulations and so on. We will not be involved in the military side of things. DFAIT will be involved with that side of it. We will not be dealing with the program you are suggesting. CIDA does not have the expertise nor the ability to deal with military-type things that have to do with—

Mr. Joe Clark: Land mines are military-type things.

Ms. Maria Minna: Yes, but land mines are not plutonium or nuclear. It's the removal. We fund it. We don't have CIDA staff who actually go out and do it, though.

Mr. Joe Clark: It's an issue involving the military. Land mines are military.

The Chair: Order.

An hon. member: The visitor to the committee.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: I do not have any problem with the right honourable member asking questions, absolutely not.

Ms. Maria Minna: The kind of expertise required is quite different. CIDA is working very much with the UN on the defusing of land mines around the world. With regard to nuclear weapons, plutonium, and what have you, that is something that at this point CIDA will not be dealing with directly.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Mr. Chair, how much time do I have left?

The Chair: You have a minute and a half left.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: I want to ask you another question. In your draft long-term strategy paper you make mention of a simplification initiative aimed at removing unnecessary process demands from development officers. The process and procedures we are talking about were made in response to criticisms set out in the audit reviews and observations from the Treasury Board and the Auditor General. It says there that there is a strong sense that too much of desk officers' time is spent on process and procedures, with too little left over to undertake more important analytical work, which will put in procedures of transparency. These processes and procedures are adopted to try to provide Canadian taxpayers with full value for money spent on development aid.

We understand that you are not in favour of this and that you are considering removing the process and procedures from your department that have been recommended by the Auditor General and Treasury Board. Is that true? We're talking about accountability.

Ms. Maria Minna: We will continue to respect the process and procedures that have been established by the Treasury Board. I don't think that's what that means at all. To attain accountability it's very important to respect the procedures that have been set out by Treasury Board. That's part of our responsibility. All that is referring to, I believe, is to simplify the process of the programming work itself on the ground. We're not talking about bypassing, shortening, or not respecting the processes that are set up by Treasury Board, or by the Auditor General, for that matter.

As I said earlier, most of the Auditor General's recommendations from his previous report have already been implemented or are in the process of being done. In addition, there are the internal audits, which we do ourselves. Most of the items in the ones we released in the last year have also been implemented. All of this activity improves our ability to deliver and monitor our programs that much better.

The Chair: Thank you, Minister.

[Translation*to]

Mr. Paradis.

Mr. Denis Paradis: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Minister, for appearing before our committee.

Let me begin by saying that we will certainly oppose the motions tabled by our Canadian Alliance colleague Mr. Deepak who would like to see CIDA's budgets slashed. In my view, we need to do exactly the opposite. However, this is in keeping with their international agenda and their desire to have Canada withdraw from all international organizations.

• 1040

We should applaud the Prime Minister and the Minister on their statements or on the Throne Speech in which the government, to the contrary, pledged to increase CIDA's budget so that Canadian ODA represents .7 per cent of the GNP.

Let me give you a concrete example to illustrate the need to increase the budget. Haiti, one of the world's poorest nations, attended the Summit of the Americas. Its standing as the world's most impoverished country is even more apparent when viewed from within this 34-member organization. Haiti's political problems are well known. CIDA is justified in focusing on such areas as health and education.

I was surprised at one point to hear someone say that digging a well advanced the cause of education. A young person forced to walk for two hours to fetch water and for another two hours on the return journey has no time to think about getting an education. Therefore, digging a well serves a useful purpose.

Would it not be possible, for example... We're talking about health and education. Again, I'll use Haiti as an example. The country is experiencing a serious water shortage. There are no sewers, only open drainage ditches. There is no electricity. As long as people's basic need for water, sewers and electricity and infrastructure problems are not addressed, health care promotion will be a difficult endeavor. Perhaps we would prefer to fix the situation later by telling them to take pills or get vaccinated. However, setting aside for the moment the political problems in Haiti, isn't there something we could do to target our assistance to improving the infrastructure in these countries?

Mention was made of the war effort. During the last war, the government introduced a victory bonds program to finance the war effort. Could we not give some thought to introducing programs to finance the infrastructures of the poorest nations?

I understand that the OAS sent a mission to Haiti with orders to report back on the situation. In the spirit of expanded sustainable development, is there room for innovative approaches and ways of doing things so that we can provide assistance sooner rather than later to the residents of the most impoverished countries in the world?

[English*to]

Ms. Maria Minna: Yes, it will make things happen more quickly, but it will make them more sustainable as well. Sometimes one can deliver programs in an area, but it doesn't mean that the region has an actual delivery system, whether it's in education or in health.

To go back to some of the comments you made, though, you're quite right, Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere. That is why the largest program we have in our hemisphere is in Haiti. We have a very strong program there in the area of basic education.

For the eradication of poverty, peace and stability are very important, as they are for any of the developmental work to take place. As you know, we have a very strong presence in Haiti in order to establish some peace and order. The RCMP are training a civil police force, which was non-existent in Haiti. It's a country-wide program, which is working very well. We have a lot of credibility in that area.

With regard to one of the things you mentioned, electricity, about a year ago—I'm trying to remember the exact date—we finished a major electrification program in Jacmel, one of the regions of Haiti. It will make that area somewhat self-sufficient, and it will attract business and investment. When you have infrastructure, it also attracts investment, and that assists the economic growth of that part of the country. That was a major project. It's finished now, and it's working very well. That's very important.

In terms of the need for food aid, it will continue to exist until the country is able to pull itself out of the dire poverty situation it's in. Along with the work we're doing with other partners in the field, we continue to provide food aid to Haiti.

Those are just some examples of work we are doing in the country. As I say, it is the poorest country in our hemisphere. I don't have to tell you that it has had some very unstable times. It is also our largest program in the region because of its poverty and its great need. We are working long-term in many areas, both in education and sustainable development, to ensure that the long-term stability of the country is re-established.

• 1045

As you may know, if you've flown over Haiti—I had the pleasure of doing that with a helicopter when I went to visit the electrification program—environmental degradation in Haiti is horrific. There are no trees left in that country, as you know, and again that's an area we are doing some major work in, with respect to reclaiming land for agriculture with farmers.

It's a long-term program, but, again, if we don't reclaim some of the environmental degradation and assist people with.... One thing takes us to the other. Education is critical to give people access to employment, investment, electrification, as well as protection of their environment. They're very critical. Food security is also very much tied to environmental degradation. They're very much interlinked, so we are doing some very major programming in Haiti with other partners.

The Chair: Monsieur Paquette.

[Translation*to]

Mr. Pierre Paquette: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Minister.

First off, I'd like to join with those who have been critical of the unacceptable level of ODA as a percentage of GDP. We've done some quick calculations and at this rate, Canada should achieve its target of .7 per cent of GDP by the year 2082.

As eminent British economist Keynes once said: In the long term, we'll all be dead. Therefore, I hope we push harder to achieve this goal within a reasonable period of time, that is within a few years. In times of economic growth, there is no reason why we can't achieve this goal within a reasonable time frame.

Secondly, I was surprised to note that a portion of CIDA's budget was used to finance the Forum of Federations. I was at Mont-Tremblant when the Forum was created. As I see it, it's nothing more than a propaganda tool for Canadian federalism. It is of no help whatsoever to developing countries from a sustainable development standpoint. In my view, there is no excuse for using CIDA funds for partisan activities like this.

Finally, and this bring me to my question, Ms. Lalonde mentioned tied aid. She rightfully pointed out that tied aid was extremely costly to developing countries, between 15 and 30 per cent. Moreover, the trade policies championed by Canada, the United States and a number of other industrializes nations are also extremely costly to developing countries.

As you know, to be eligible for aid, the IMF and the World Bank are asking developing countries to open up their markets and developed countries, Canada and the US in particular, to keep protectionist measures in place. While developing countries are opening up their markets, we are maintaining barriers to keep goods from some of these countries out of Canada.

An OXFAM Canada report issued in May highlighted this situation and targeted two countries in particular, Canada and the United States. Let me quote to you some of the figures contained in this report. OXFAM International maintains that Canada's protectionist measures are five times more costly to developing countries in terms of market losses than the assistance we provide to them. For each dollar of international assistance received, these countries lose five dollars because their products are not allowed into certain developed nations.

The report cites the example of Bangladesh. For each aid dollar Canada sends to Bangladesh, the latter loses $36 because of trade barriers erected to block the entry of that nation's goods into other countries. This situation is unacceptable. It contradicts Canada's official position and must be corrected.

The European Union has launched an initiative entitled Tout sauf les armes. While it may not be a panacea - there are still many protectionist barriers in place when it comes to agricultural products - the fact remains that the European Union has taken steps to open its markets up to products manufactured in some of the world's poorest countries.

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Aside from the $1 million announced several weeks ago which will go to help these countries adapt to international trade rules, do you have any plans to propose or introduce an initiative similar to the one put forward by the European Union?

[English*to]

The Chair: I'm going to have to ask you, Minister, to be fairly brief in your answer just because we have only ten minutes remaining, and I know there are the votes on Mr. Obhrai's motion. I believe Mr. Clark has a motion as well.

Ms. Maria Minna: I'll try to be very brief, Mr. Chairman.

As to the levels, I think I won't go back to that. I think I answered the question before with respect to levels of ODA, and I appreciate the honourable member's input in that. As I said, I continue to work very hard on that because he's quite right. We need to increase our levels, and that's it.

With respect to the form of federation, as I just finished saying earlier, one of the major types of programming in our system is governance. There are countries that are federations, such as Russia, which is a federation with states. There are many other countries that are federations. This is a way to assist countries that have similar structures to Canada. Others are looking into actually developing them to solve conflict situations within their own borders. To help them compare the governance...this is part of what we do. We share our knowledge of governance with other countries to assist them to actually develop strong governance systems. This is what this is about.

I don't see anything there that is threatening to anyone. It's basically dealing with the issue of governance, and we do have countries that are federations in the developing countries that we work with. So that's why that's funded, and I think it's quite a legitimate fund.

With respect to tied aid, I answered it earlier. As I said, we have agreed on the issue with DAC and with 49 countries we have untied, and we will continue to work on that.

With respect to trade, yes, we are new to trade strategies within the WTO. In fact, we have a CIDA representative now at the WTO dealing with the trade issues, which we didn't have before. We have become more involved and more aggressive in the issue of trade as a whole. That's very important for us. The other is that, with respect to trade with the LDCs, as I said, that's one of the things that we've done.

We also support capacity building. We do a lot of work and funding in the area of capacity building for trade with developing countries, especially in their ability to deal with international rules and what have you.

With respect to Canada, yes, we have to look at opening up trade further. But there are some issues that we need to address. As the honourable member may know, in your own province, the issue of sugar is one area that in fact the EU has excluded for a period of time. It is exempted. There are some areas where there are difficulties that need to be addressed about trade, definitely. Access to trade in order for developing countries to grow their economies is very important, and that's something that we in fact are working on very aggressively. I'm not in the slightest going to suggest to you that this is not an issue.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister. We're going to have to stop there.

Colleagues, Mr. Obhrai has put six motions.

Mr. Joe Clark: Mr. Chair, on a point of order, if I could....

The Chair: Yes.

Mr. Joe Clark: The consequence of voting on Mr. Obhrai's motions would be to conclude these meetings. I want, as you know, to propose a motion that would extend our hearings to hold a meeting tomorrow morning. I'm seeking guidance—

An hon. member: When?

Mr. Joe Clark: Tomorrow morning.

I am seeking guidance on a procedural matter as to whether a motion to extend hearings should be heard and determined before a vote on particular items, which might have the effect of ending the process.

Mr. Svend Robinson: Mr. Chairman, I have a point of order.

The Chair: Yes.

Colleagues, we've got ten minutes. If we wrangle over points of order, we're going to lose all the time we have.

Mr. Svend Robinson: I'll speak just briefly on the point of order.

I don't believe that voting on the motions that have been put forward by Mr. Obhrai would necessarily preclude this committee from continuing to meet and hear other motions. One of the suggestions I was going to make is that perhaps there might be some consideration given.

• 1055

I believe that one of the motions of Mr. Obhrai deals with grants and contributions. I want to suggest that perhaps rather than reducing it by the amount he suggests—this might be a subamendment, and I'll seek the guidance of the chair—there be some funding restored under the terms of the motion, sufficient to ensure that a fund be established to provide for education of members of the Canadian Alliance as to the incredible history of Nelson Mandela and the fact that he is neither a communist nor a terrorist, Mr. Chairman.

Voices: Oh, oh!

The Chair: Mr. Keyes, did you want to make a point of order?

Mr. Stan Keyes: Yes, Mr. Chairman. To preclude any further discussion on the right honourable gentleman's suggestion, might I suggest that this committee not deal with his motion at this level. We do have a steering committee of the foreign affairs committee. It can deal with the matter, so that we don't have to go into a lengthy discussion as to whether or not we should meet or shouldn't meet. That's the purpose of a steering committee.

Mr. Joe Clark: Not in these circumstances, Mr. Chairman. This is an unusual meeting established by a special order of the House of Commons.

Mr. Stan Keyes: Despite that, Mr. Chairman, we do have control of our own destiny, as each committee does, and each committee can decide on its own what it wants to do.

The Chair: First I'm going to rule, to deal with Mr. Clark's preoccupation and concern, that disposing of Mr. Obhrai's motions does not preclude in any way the possibility of the committee's deciding to hold a hearing tomorrow morning, if that's going to be the thrust of his motion. So let's deal with Mr. Obhrai's motions now.

Mr. Obhrai, sir, you do have six motions, two of which deal with line item 20, four with line item 25. I wonder if we could group them, vote on the two that deal with line item 20, and then on the four that deal with 25. Or do you want to consider them separately, if you want an individual vote? I'm just thinking of time.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: In the interest of time, it's a good idea, but I think we should quickly go around for a recorded vote and we could probably deal with it here.

The Chair: We've had an ample discussion on it. I don't think we're going to move to a discussion. We won't have time, anyway. I'm therefore going to move straight to a vote. Do you want a recorded vote or do we take it on division?

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Recorded vote.

The Chair: Recorded vote on the first motion, which is that vote 20 be reduced by $34,605,750.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Which is the first one?

The Chair: I've got the one on the top, $34,605,750.

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Canadian Alliance): I have a point of order, Mr. Chairman. I wonder if we could amend this to add a line where we vote $18 to repair Mr. Robinson's pants.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Chair: I don't think that's in order, because that would have to be a locally acquired pair of pants, and would interfere with the new philosophy, which is to acquire all things in the country.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: On the first motion, I would like to correct you, Mr. Chairman. It's $588,814.

The Chair: I'm sorry. Thank you very much.

(Motion negatived: nays 13; yeas 5) [See Minutes of Proceedings*to])

The Chair: The second motion is that vote 20 be reduced by $35,222,000. Would you be willing to apply the same vote? If colleagues are satisfied with that, we'll apply that vote. Thank you very much, colleagues.

(Motion negatived: nays 13; yeas 5) [See Minutes of Proceedings*to]

• 1100

The Chair: Next is that vote 25 be reduced by $6,300,000.

(Motion negatived: nays 13; yeas 5) [See Minutes of Proceedings*to]

The Chair: I'm just looking for Mr. Robinson's pants in here. I can't find them.

Mr. Joe Clark: They may be nuclear, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Well, they're certainly radioactive.

Next is that the line item vote 25 be reduced by $300 million.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Is anyone changing there?

Mr. Stan Keyes: Well, maybe. I mean, the right honourable gentleman who has professed an increased funding for CIDA is voting now to rob all the funding from CIDA. I'm not sure if he wants to change his mind or not.

An hon. member: I think he wants to hold CIDA accountable.

Mr. Joe Clark: Mr. Chairman, there will be no change in my vote. I think the purpose of examining estimates is to have Parliament exercise control, and that is what this process is about. I think a signal needs to be sent to the government and to CIDA that there can no longer be expenditure without examination, without consequences. So I support the motion.

The Chair: Okay, colleagues. We've have about two minutes left, and we have Mr. Clark's motion. So let's just move along.

(Motion negatived: nays 13; yeas 5) [See Minutes of Proceedings*to]

The Chair: The penultimate item is $400,000 toward....

(Motion negatived: nays 13; yeas 5) [See Minutes of Proceedings*to]

The Chair: The last item is to reduce vote 25 by $76 million.

(Motion negatived: nays 13; yeas 5) [See Minutes of Proceedings*to])

The Chair: Do I have the authorization of the committee to report the estimates to the House? That is subject to Mr. Clark's motion. Sir, perhaps you could speak to that.

Mr. Joe Clark: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[Translation*to]

I'd like to propose that the committee review CIDA's estimates one more while we await the minister's visit tomorrow at 9.a.m.

[English*to]

The Chair: Everybody knows what the purpose of Mr. Clark's motion is. I don't think there's any need to discuss it, so I'm going to put it straight to the vote.

Mr. Joe Clark: I would like a recorded vote.

(Motion negatived: nays 9; yeas 8)

The Chair: Colleagues, I want to thank the minister, on your behalf, for coming. I want to thank you for contributing.

Minister, before we adjourn, I just want to leave you one idea. Yesterday, on behalf of the committee, I deposited in the House our report, Advancing Canadian Foreign Policy Objectives in the South Caucasus and Central Asian Region*to, and you will find some recommendations in there that might be of interest to your department.

Thank you very much for coming.

We're adjourned.

ParlVU