Within the Canadian parliament there is no unanimity on the cutting of bilateral aid

Dear Editor,

With reference to Frederick Kissoon’s letter ‘Why the reduction to Guyana when this country is poorer than the rest of the Caribbean?’ (SN 2.3.09) which focused on the Canadian government’s decision to cut bilateral assistance to Guyana, Mr Kissoon asked, and then answered: “It has to do with governance. The Canadians are irritated that the Jagdeo presidency is not moving in the direction of re-shaping governance.” Mr Kissoon’s tone in his letter and his original Kaieteur News column on the subject suggests the Canadian government is displeased with the attitude and actions of the Guyana government and has singled out Guyana for punishment. However, Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Charles Court has reportedly dismissed as untrue the so-called deterioration of Canada-Guyana relations.

I wish to point out, Editor, that within Canada there is no unanimity in the parliament on the shortening of bilateral aid to several developing countries, not only Guyana. John Rafferty, New Democrat spokesman for International Cooperation, has strongly criticized Conservative Minister for International Cooperation Bev Oda for the cuts.

According to an NDP press release of February 25, Rafferty said, “limiting our bilateral assistance to just 20 countries is a sad new low even for this government.”

“The Minister claims her cuts will make our assistance ‘more effective and more accountable,’ but they will do the opposite,” he said. “If she really wanted to increase effectiveness and accountability, then she would stop increasing the simple ‘country to country’ transfers of taxpayers’ money and let Canadian NGOs, like Care Canada, CUSO and WUSC deliver programming in a more cost-effective and transparent way as they have done for decades.”

The NDP parliamentarian argued that reducing bilateral aid would limit Canadian influence worldwide and affect the working poor in the developing countries. “We are cutting funding for many, many important programmes that kept men and women working, children in schools, and families fed. Canadians should be outraged by these cuts and by the fact we are now collectively turning our back on so many.”

Obsessed as he is with removing the democratically elected PPP/Civic government from office, Frederick Kissoon will gleefully applaud any foreign government which he perceives has a bone to pick with Guyana, but this is one case where his wishes have turned into a short and vulgar dream.

Yours faithfully,
Hemraj Muniram

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