CCIC monthly e-bulletin: March 2013                                                            About CCIC     |     Contact Us
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Julia Sanchez

A Call to Action

I was going to write this month about our Leaders Forum, held on Feb 27th under the heading of “Working Together with Change” and which brought together approximately 70 leaders from our sector – EDs/CEOs, members of your boards, and some communications staff. I was going to reiterate how much we appreciated the great inputs provided on the “Redefining our Narrative” initiative for the sector, and also our thanks for the patience with which you sat through and participated in the ceremonious sharing of the responses to the survey which identified other areas of possible collaboration for the sector and roles for CCIC. Also to thank those of you who have written in saying how much you appreciated the forum, and in particular the interaction with the four journalists who were with us in the morning, the short but lively and graphic intervention from our colleague Stephen Faul from Imagine Canada on their Narrative project, and the opportunity to discuss issues of common interest and network with peers.

However, I have decided instead to share some thoughts with you today on the issue of the amalgamation of CIDA with DFAIT announced in the budget two weeks ago. And I have further decided to make this a call to action for the sector.

As development practitioners, who deal on a regular basis with CIDA and have done so for years and years, we are in a unique position to see the practical implications of this decision and the many potential pit falls that come with it. And as the life-long development actors and thinkers, we are also in a privileged position to understand the profound underlying implications of this move and the many potential land mines that lie in the way of good international development and this most recent move that could debilitate the core mandate of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Canada. Our voice is therefore an important one, and despite the intimidation that we have all noted over the past years, the proverbial “advocacy chill”, and the knee-jerk and shallow attacks that things we say that are not in full accordance with the government’s positions can trigger (self-serving, overgrown-sense of entitlement and whining NGOs, etc.), we must speak out. And more importantly perhaps, we must act.

So what is at stake here and why must we act? It is quite simply Canada’s contribution to the world that is at stake and the eventual kick back that this will have on Canada’s long-term prosperity and security as well. Along with that goes, of course, our reputation. The devil will be in the details of how the merger is implemented, what the new legislation dictates as the new Minister’s roles and responsibilities, and what happens to the ODA AA (the existing act that already defines what Canadian ODA must serve for). But the context in which this is being implemented points to questions that are too important to ignore.

Will CIDA’s existence be overhauled, new legislation passed and the new ministry be created as one of dozens of measures included in yet another omnibus bill to “implement the budget”? Worse yet, will the ODA AA in any way be amended or undone within this sweeping exercise? Furthermore, will this be done without even a parliamentary committee to research and debate the future of ODA in the face of such a move? Without any real debate in parliament over the implications of this move on the core mandate of Canada’s ODA file? Without any consultation to stakeholders of international development, including NGOs and other civil society groups?

Many of us have reiterated in the past few days that in theory the amalgamation could result in a more effective agency to deliver overseas development assistance in developing countries. But the list of conditions for this to materialize in practice is quite long and it is hard to deny that, based on what we have observed in recent months and years, there is limited reason to believe that this move is actually about consolidating or even strengthening the role of CIDA or ODA within the larger set of interests of the government. On the contrary, we have all watched, often in disbelief, how Minister Oda and, more markedly, Minister Fantino have gone out of their way to plainly and unambiguously put to us that Canadian aid must respond to Canadian self-interests, including very prominently our commercial and trade interests. So, the likelihood that this move is the logical next step in the process of subsuming the international development objectives (and budget!) to those of trade and other foreign policy objectives is quite real. This is not likely to be about strengthening the mandate of CIDA and ODA, as defined in the ODA AA. It is most probably about policy alignment and not policy coherence.

After the ODA AA was passed in parliament in 2008, CCIC published a compilation of contributions towards strengthening the implementation of the act in “A Time to Act. Implementing the ODA Accountability Act: A Canadian CSO Agenda for Aid Reform”. (If you do not have your copy of this CCIC publication, order it now! We still have several boxes left, and it is timely to review this material now. Contact: Alice Ouedraogo). Well, I put to you that the time to act is here again. As others have said over the past few days, much more eloquently than I can, it is not about the merger per se, but what this merger is about that really matters. With no new policy statement, strategy or pronouncement on ODA for Canada, on what basis is this move justified? How will we hold our government accountable (yes, that is a legitimate role for civil society…) for the results of this change, and all the costs it will imply in the short-term, if these are not clearly spelled out and firmly rooted in sound policy?

In an age of increased globalization and an intricately interdependent world, can Canada afford to disassociate itself from its historic soft leadership role in the world and look only inwardly at its immediate and short-term interests? Of course not. Not the Canada that catapulted us into expressing our solidarity with the world’s marginalized and struggling populations by choosing to work in international development. Not the Canada that showed the way again and again on the international stage, on how to best tackle global poverty and social injustice. Not the Canada whose flag was sewn onto hundreds of backpacks of those that proudly went out into the world to bear witness, support and collaborate in common cause with our global brothers and sisters. Not the Canada of Lester B. Pearson, Christine Stewart, Stephen Lewis, Louise Fréchette, Margaret Catley-Carlson, Maurice Strong, Maureen O’Neil, Lloyd Axworthy (even though he is applauding this move today) and so many others that have been ambassadors of Canadian values on the international scene.

So, let’s work together to make sure that our informed voices, speaking in unison on this critical issue for our sector, are heard. Let’s alert the government and Canadians about the risks we see in this approach and the conditions that need to be in place to make this merger a real plus for international development. Let’s demand that this amalgamation process not translate into additional delays in CIDA’s operations, which will further aggravate the results and impact of Canada’s current development efforts. Let’s put forth our best knowledge to try to ensure that this merger takes into account the lessons learned from countries that have gone this route and have maintained robust development programs, and those that have not. And let’s work with parliamentarians and the general public to enhance understanding of the ODA AA and to make sure that this framework policy piece, and the principles it embodies for international cooperation, is not thrown out with the bathwater.

If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

In solidarity,


This column makes you smile, react, nod or disagree? We’d like to hear about it! Please send any comments to Julia Sanchez.



Federal Budget 2013: CIDA and poverty reduction further sidelined?

Having deflated the international assistance envelope (IAE) – and with it Canadian aid - in last year’s budget by $1.2 billion in cumulative cuts between 2012 and 2015 (relative to a flat lined IAE), Budget 2013 could further undermine Canadian aid by putting the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) within the remit of a new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. Canada will maintain a separate Minister for International Cooperation. Given the recent declarations by the government linking Canadian aid spending to the promotion of Canada’s commercial interests and shared prosperity, Canada’s development agenda risks falling further and further away from what is required under the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act. Namely, such assistance is meant to:  1) reduce poverty, 2) take account the perspectives of the poor, and 3) be consistent with international human rights standards. With this recent news, Canada could be seen as returning to an era of tied aid and subsidizing Canadian commercial interests with its ODA budget. This month, the Government of Alberta also announce cuts to its international development spending, just as Britain joined Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Luxembourg in allocating 0.7% of Gross National Income to Official Development Assistance. Visit our web section on Budget 2013 for more information on the budget and its impacts.


Alternative federal budget – Doing better together

Ten days ahead of Budget 2013 the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released “Alternative Federal Budget 2013: Doing better together ”. This year’s report included a section on International Development by CCIC that focused on four key issues for the government in Budget 2013: 1) develop an accountable and effective framework that address the root causes of poverty for the post-2015 world, building on Canada’s experience with the UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women and Children’s Health; 2) enhance Canada’s aid commitments to fighting poverty by pegging Official Development Assistance to 0.31% of GNI (Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor performance as a whole) until the economy recovers, as suggested by the DAC Peer Review of Canadian aid; 3) enhance the quality and effectiveness of Canadian aid through a forward looking agenda and action plan on aid effectiveness that aligns Canadian aid spending with developing country priorities and development plans, makes our spending more predictable and continues to make progress on aid transparency; and, 4) echo efforts to tackle poverty abroad with leadership and robust action to address poverty, homelessness, and hunger in Canada, starting with the adoption of national intergovernmental strategies based on international human rights principles.

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Olivier de Schutter’s report on right to food in Canada

In Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, delivered a report on his mission to Canada to the UN Human Rights Council on March 04, 2013. In this report, De Schutter finds that Canada has the means to do much more to ensure the realization of the right to food of its citizens. He expresses concerns notably “about the growing gap between Canada’s international human rights commitments and their implementation domestically”, and he stresses that an increasing number of people in the country are unable to meet their basic food needs. Some of the recommendations the Rapporteur makes to the Canadian government include formulating a comprehensive rights-based national food strategy; revising social assistance levels to correspond to the costs of basic necessities; setting the minimum wage as a living wage; and meeting with indigenous groups to discuss arrangements to ensure access to land and natural resources. The Rapporteur also stresses that Canada should apply human rights norms and standards in defining international cooperation priorities and implementing programmes, in accordance to the 2008 ODA Accountability Act. You can find the audio recording of Mr. De Schutter’s presentation on Food Secure Canada’s website.

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New blog on Aid and Development in the Ottawa Citizen is up!

The new blog on Aid and Development, hosted by the Ottawa Citizen, was launched the last week of March. This unique Canadian platform provides a space to present, discuss and debate current issues and challenges in relation with the role of Canada in international development, as well as stories from the field. The blog will feature articles written by different stakeholders and practitioners in the international development community, academics, and journalists from the Citizen. CCIC’s Communications Task Force was involved in the early discussions leading up to the creation of the blog, and many CCIC members have signaled their interest in contributing to the blog. The Ottawa Citizen has launched the blog with a short list of contributors, but will be adding more names. For more information please contact Chantal Havard at CCIC.

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In conversation with Lilian Chaterjee

On March 19th, CCIC hosted an informal exchange with Lilian Chatterjee, Director General, Thematic and Sectoral Policy, Strategic Policy and Performance Branch, on CIDA’s approach to working with the extractive industry. Lilian, and two of her team members, shared with the 25 participants on CIDA’s evolving programming in this field and explained how it fits into CIDA’s broader mandate of poverty alleviation and supporting sustainable economic growth in developing countries. A rich discussion ensued, with participants asking some challenging questions about CIDA’s approach and model. It was agreed that further dialogue on this key file would be welcome by all. And it was also said that enlarging the group of participants in this conversation would be desirable.

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Second workshop on the rules of lobbying for NGOs

Last fall CCIC hosted a workshop for NGOs entitled “The Rules of Lobbying”. The workshop covered the essentials of both CRA regulations associated with "political activities" as well as emerging potential changes to the federal Lobbying Act. Since then, the CRA has issued new guidelines for filing T3010 forms, so CCIC decided to organize a second workshop to refresh our knowledge on these issues and focus on the new guidelines and changes that are in the works. The workshop brought together 30 participants from around the country (in person or via webinar) on March 19th and was facilitated by Laird Hunter, Q.C., who has carried out, over the last 30 years, a significant national practice in charity and non-profit law, and Sean Moore, the principal of Advocacy School and a former Partner and Public Policy Advisor with the national law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. The Power Point presentation that they used, which provides key information and useful links, can be found in the Members Space.

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Have you saved the date for the 2013 CCIC Annual Forum and AGM?

Planning is well underway and in the coming weeks we will send out a notice with the registration package for this year’s Annual Forum and AGM. Entitled “Development and social transformation as shared responsibility: building new bridges and connections” the forum will explore key questions for Canadian NGOs to ponder as we project ourselves into the future of international cooperation, and will have a host of workshops, guest speakers, and opportunities to network like never before!  The two-day plus affair will be kicked-off with a public event on Wednesday, May 22nd and will end with the formal AGM in the afternoon of May 24th. So mark your calendars and book your travel. More details very soon!

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Popular blogger and development practitioner Duncan Green coming to Ottawa!

CCIC, in collaboration with the Center for International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa, Oxfam Canada and Octopus Books, is bringing Duncan Green, Strategic Advisor to Oxfam UK and author of the popular blog, From Poverty to Power, to Ottawa on May 10. Duncan will be here for a rare one day visit to promote a revised version of his book, “From Poverty to Power” and to give a public lecture. The event will be free, but ticketed. More details available very soon on our website.

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New on CCIC’s blog

Children's Chances

Jody Heymann and Kristen McNeill are co-authors of Children’s Chances: How Countries can Move from Surviving to Thriving (Harvard University Press, 2013). They have re-posted an article on our blog on the work that they have been doing the past several years as part of the Children’s Chances Initiative, to make comparative information on education and other child policies easily accessible. To find out more about how countries are performing on education and other areas key to children’s full and healthy development, visit


Also, and following up on the publication of the Human Development Report 2013, CCIC/APWG Research Assistant Kai-Hsin Hung has written a post on how the rise of the South presents opportunities for new development partnerships and approaches.

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NEW! Coalition profile

(To advance its policy agenda, support existing networks and have a greater impact, CCIC is involved in many coalitions. Each month we will be featuring one of them in Flash! so that you can get involved with them too.)


The Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development (C4D)
Formed in 2006, the Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development (C4D) gathers over twenty international development and environmental organizations working together to share knowledge and take concerted action to address climate change.  Through its Adaptation Learning Program, C4D organized two workshops for practitioners, researchers and policy makers to feature case studies from C4D members entitled Climate Change & Development: Global challenges... responses. The first workshop was held in Toronto on March 13, the second in Ottawa on April 3. For more information on the Coalition and the workshops, go to, contact the coordinator Dwayne Hodgson at or visit the C4D website at

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This section will be back next month!

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Guatemalan delegation report

Guatemalan human rights defender Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic visited Canada in March to draw attention to the criminalization of activists resisting Canadian extractive projects on their territories. The Americas Policy Group and its members organized the Ottawa leg of the tour which took place from March 4-6. Activities included a meeting with DFAIT, panels at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, classroom presentations, MP meetings, sessions with local human rights activists and a public event featuring a play and a panel discussion. The play was about the murder of Adolfo Ich, a Mayan community leader killed by security forces contracted to Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals in Guatemala. Coincidentally, the Hudbay Minerals case was in the news that same week, with a breakthrough decision to have the case heard in Canada. To find out more about Lolita’s visit and the criminalization of dissent in Guatemala and elsewhere, read the APG op-ed, press release and blog.

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From 29 April to 3 May join RESULTS Canada and Live Below the Line.

Join Results Canada and take the challenge of eating and drinking on $1.75 a day for 5 days to raise awareness and funds for the 1.4 billion people who live below the poverty line. If you want to find out more and get involved at the local level, join one of the group meetings held in Victoria, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec City and virtually. More info available from and

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Government responds on aid and the private sector

On March 6th, the government released its response to  the sixth Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development’s report, “Driving Inclusive Economic Growth: The Role of the Private Sector in International Development”,. The government largely agrees with the suggestions made by the committee, but also indicates that it is already doing most of what is being suggested.

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The Rise of the South

On March 14th, the United Nations Development Program launched “The Rise of the South: Human progress in a diverse world”, looking at the North-South shift in global economic and political affairs and profiling the positive shift of 18 out of 40 countries in the developing world that have surpassed expectations in human development over the past few decades. As always, the Report featured the Human Development Index, which ranked Canada 11th , ten spots behind Norway which ranked number one.

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New report on land grabs and food systems

A new report by IATP (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy) profiles how land grabbing and its detrimental effects on food-insecurity will continue to accelerate as international trade and investment agreements favor corporate and financial interests over the right to food.

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Fragile States 2013: Resource Flows and Trends in a shifting world

This publication produced by the OECD takes stock of i) the evolution of fragility as a concept, ii) financial flows to and within fragile states between 2000 and 2010, and iii) trends and issues that are likely to shape fragility in the years to come. It is an important contribution to better understanding the challenges donors and governments continue to face in supporting Fragile and Conflict Affected States.

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What countries are thinking post-2015

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty and Beyond 2015 have produced an excellent Interim Synthesis Report summing up some key streams of thinking emerging from National Debates on the post-2015 agenda in 22 countries. 18 more national debates are expected. Among other things, emerging from the debates was the need for any post-2015 framework to focus on human rights, equality and justice, environmental sustainability and poverty eradication.

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Call for concept notes: Canadian Partnerships Small Grants, IDRC

IDRC invites applications for its 2013-2014 Small Grants for Innovative Research and Knowledge Sharing. Provided through the Canadian Partnerships program, these grants support research, knowledge-building, and knowledge-sharing projects. They also fund events and small dissemination activities and products.  These grants are open to local, regional, national, and international organizations incorporated and headquartered in Canada that produce or share knowledge for development. Individuals may not apply. Organizations new to IDRC are encouraged to apply. More information is available on IDRC site.

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If you have an item for Flash, send it by e-mail to Chantal Havard. Please note that Flash items should be no longer than one paragraph.