Doing More, Better: Reflections on the Future of Canadian Assistance to Haiti

By Gaëlle Rivard Piché

Ready for change. That was the Liberal Party’s main slogan during the Canadian electoral campaign that brought Justin Trudeau into power on October 19. It is also the state of Canada-Haiti relations after four years of sullenness due to a decline in Canadian funding for Haiti’s reconstruction and successive diplomatic faux pas.

After a decade of Conservative reign driven by hard-line security imperatives and a development strategy resolutely based on economic priorities, a new Liberal government suggests a change in Canadian foreign policy. Considering Trudeau’s commitment to restore Canada’s image abroad, what will be the Canadian role in the next chapter of Haiti’s development?

In 2004, Paul Martin’s Liberal government agreed to participate in a multilateral effort towards Haiti’s stabilization and reconstruction. Under the following Conservative governments, Haiti officially remained a priority, but a shift in the rationale for aid put a stop to several bilateral programs, including quick impact projects funded by the Department of Foreign Affaires and International Trade’s Stabilisation and Reconstruction Task Force. The reduction of the budget envelope had a direct impact on the ability of the Canadian embassy to engage with its Haitian counterparts. The lack of a clear strategy after the end of the earthquake recovery phase in 2012 also marginalized the role and the importance of Canada at the donors’ table. Canada still remains a key contributor to the MINUSTAH, the UN peace operation deployed since 2004, but the foreseen end of the mission after 2016 raises serious concerns about the future of international assistance.

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Public Opinion and Interventions Abroad

By Jean-Christophe Boucher and Kim Richard Nossal

Does public opinion influence Canadian decisions on interventions abroad? Do policy-makers pay attention to what ordinary Canadians think when they decide whether to commit the Canadian Armed Forces to overseas missions?

Two recent interventions—Canada’s long mission in Afghanistan and the current operation against the forces of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS, Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shām)—provide an excellent opportunity to test the impact of the Canadian public on issues of war and peace.

In the case of Afghanistan, as we show in our chapter in Canada Among Nations 2015, public opinion was generally strongly opposed to the Canadian mission, but policy-makers in Ottawa largely ignored the opposition being expressed by the public: they refused to bring the troops home, and indeed maintained the mission until 2014, when much of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces were leaving. Indeed, the governing Conservatives and the opposition Liberals conspired with one another to take the Afghanistan mission off the domestic political agenda.

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L’opinion publique et les interventions à l’étranger

par Jean-Christophe Boucher et Kim Richard Nossal

L’opinion publique influence-t-elle les décisions canadiennes relatives aux interventions à l’étranger? Les décideurs politiques prêtent-ils attention à ce que pensent les Canadiens ordinaires en décidant s’ils devraient engager les Forces armées canadiennes dans des missions à l’étranger?

Deux interventions récentes, la longue mission canadienne en Afghanistan et l’opération actuelle contre les forces de l’État islamique en Irak et au Levant (l’EIIL, connu aussi sous le nom de l’État Islamique d’Irak et d’al-Sham, EIIS) fournissent une excellente occasion de vérifier l’impact du public canadien sur les questions de guerre et de paix.

Dans le cas de l’Afghanistan, comme nous le montrons dans notre chapitre dans Canada Among Nations 2015, l’opinion publique était généralement fortement opposée à la mission canadienne, mais les décideurs d’Ottawa ont largement ignoré l’opposition exprimée par le public : ils ont refusé de rapatrier les troupes et ont même maintenu la mission jusqu’en 2014, alors qu’une bonne partie des forces de l’Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord partaient. En effet, les conservateurs au pouvoir ont conspiré avec les libéraux de l’opposition pour enlever la mission en Afghanistan du programme politique intérieur.

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A Backwards Decade on Foreign Aid: How Commercial Gain Came to Replace Poverty Reduction as the Primary Goal of Canadian Foreign Aid.

By Stephen Brown

A decade of Conservative rule has had a profound impact on Canadian foreign aid — and mostly for the worst.

With respect to aid level, we are back where we started. The Harper government initially embraced the Liberals’ goal of doubling aid. However, having reached it, they froze and then cut aid spending. When measured as a percentage of gross national income, foreign aid is now lower than when they came to power — and barely a third of the target to which Canada committed in 1970.

For a while, security interests seemed dominant. Afghanistan became the largest Canadian aid recipient ever. Under a new “whole-of-government approach,” the government increasingly linked aid with other elements of foreign policy, including diplomacy and especially defence. The result was disappointing on all levels. An internal government evaluation recognized that an overemphasis on short-term goals undermined the achievement and sustainability of long-term results. For instance, after Canada withdrew its troops from Kandahar, it left its much-touted Dahla Dam “signature project” for the Americans to complete, but the latter had other priorities.

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Comment les gains commerciaux sont venus remplacer la réduction de la pauvreté comme objectif principal de l’aide étrangère canadienne

par Stephen Brown

Une décennie de règne conservateur a eu un impact profond, et principalement négatif, sur l’aide étrangère canadienne.

En ce qui concerne le niveau de l’aide, nous sommes de retour à la case départ. Au début, le gouvernement Harper a adopté le but des libéraux de doubler l’aide. Cependant, ayant atteint ce but, les conservateurs ont gelé, et puis réduit les dépenses liées à l’aide. En tant que pourcentage du revenu national brut, l’aide étrangère est actuellement inférieure à son niveau du début du règne conservateur- et à peine un tiers de la cible à laquelle le Canada s’est engagé en 1970.

Pendant un certain temps, des considérations relatives à la sécurité ont semblé dominer. L’Afghanistan est devenu le plus grand bénéficiaire de l’aide canadienne de l’histoire. Suivant une nouvelle approche «pangouvernementale,» le gouvernement a de plus en plus lié l’aide à d’autres éléments de la politique étrangère, dont la diplomatie et surtout la défense. Le résultat a été décevant sur tous les plans. Selon une évaluation gouvernementale interne, une insistance démesurée sur des buts à court terme minait la réalisation et la durabilité de résultats à long terme. Par exemple, après le retrait de ses troupes, le Canada a laissé aux Américains le soin d’achever son fameux «projet de premier plan,» le barrage Dahla. Ces derniers, cependant, avaient d’autres priorités.

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Living among the Population in Southern Afghanistan: A Canadian Approach to Counter-Insurgency

By Caroline Leprince

The Munk Debate on Canada’s Foreign Policy brought together last September the three federal party leaders to defend their foreign policy visions for the country. The first question of the debate was on Canada’s military involvement in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This highlights the importance of the role Canada has to play internationally to stop threats to international peace and security. As the world appears to be becoming a more dangerous place with ideological extremism spreading throughout the poorest regions of the globe, Canada must be ready to operate in these complex environments as future conflicts are likely to occur within weak and fragile states.

To do so, the hard-won lessons learned during the Canadian intervention in Afghanistan can help better prepare Canada for the challenges of the twenty-first century. The chapter “Living among the Population in Southern Afghanistan: A Canadian Approach to Counter-insurgency” captures first-hand experiences of the counter-insurgency tactics used by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) during its engagement in Kandahar Province from 2005 to 2011. During the first years of the intervention, the hard fought battles to maintain ground proved unable to tackle the insurgency. The influx of additional American troops to Kandahar in 2009 was the turning point that gave the Canadian-led Task Force Kandahar (TFK) the means to realize its ambitions. It created an unprecedented opportunity to adopt a new counterinsurgency strategy centred on the protection of the population. First introduced in the village of Deh-e-Bag in June 2009, the implementation of the key village approach rapidly demonstrated its capacity to address the root causes of the insurgency. With the American surge that arrived in Spring 2010, the key village approach expanded and was used to plan stability operations in the villages of Dand and Panjwayi districts.

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Vivre parmi la population du sud de l’Afghanistan : une approche canadienne en matière de contre-insurrection

par Caroline Leprince

 Le débat Munk sur la politique étrangère du Canada a réuni au mois de septembre dernier les trois chefs de partis fédéraux pour défendre leurs visions de la politique étrangère du pays. La première question du débat portait sur l’engagement militaire du Canada dans le combat contre l’État islamique en Irak et en Syrie (EIIS). Cela souligne l’importance du rôle que le Canada doit jouer au niveau international pour contrer les menaces pour la paix et la sécurité internationales. À mesure que le monde paraît devenir de plus en plus dangereux, l’extrémisme idéologique se propageant dans les régions les plus pauvres de la planète, le Canada doit être prêt à opérer dans ces environnements complexes, puisque les conflits futurs vont probablement se produire dans des États faibles et fragiles.

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