Foreign Aid Versus Domestic Should Canada be Supporting Pakistan? – OP ED by Denis Sabourin – June 29, 2012

CFN – With governments trying to come back to a healthier financial picture, the debate has been centered on how far governments should cut their expenses, whether tax rates for businesses should be raised or frozen and whether funding for innovation and competitiveness should be maintained.

These discussions have pitted Canadians against Canadians and certainly made for interesting debate in the House of Commons.  But the histrionics coming from political commentators of all stripes have obscured the required thorough review of how our tax dollars are spent.

One such program should have us shaking our heads.  In fiscal year 2009-2010, Canada gave Pakistan (directly or indirectly) $31,814,182 in foreign aid.  Far be it from us to question the importance of foreign aid, but … Pakistan?

Let’s take a look at Pakistan: its secret service is accused by observers and governments of aiding the Taliban (yes, the same Taliban that killed Canadian soldiers in neighbouring Afghanistan); it has harboured Osama bin Laden for years (right beside a major military base – but Pakistan still claims not knowing about it); it contributes to the instability of Afghanistan (yes, the same country we are trying to rebuild); it is in a state of perpetual conflict with its neighbour India; its President faces corruption charges; and … it can’t afford to feed its citizens but can afford nuclear weapons!

Should Pakistan receive aid from Canada?  Is it our choice?  Actually, no,  it’is our politician’s choice, because that debate is not occurring in the media or with Canadians as a whole.

So, let’s look at what could be done with the $32 million given to Pakistan if the money had been left in federal coffers or directed to provincial initiatives:

  • 756 businesses could have received a $50,000 grant from the Industrial Research Assistance Program to allow them to develop new processes or help them become more competitive
  • 1,890 unemployed people could have been hired through the Job Creation Partnership program – giving them work experience and decreasing reliance on social systems
  • 945 companies could have received financial support through the Global Research Innovation Program
  • Funding of $100,000 could have been awarded to 311 companies through the Ministry of Research and Innovation Demonstration Fund
  • 756 small and medium-sized companies could have received $50,000 grants to develop relationships between the companies and key players on the international scene in order to support the development of commercialization projects

The numbers become even more shocking when we include Canada’s decision to forgive a significant amount of Pakistan’s debt.  Since 2009-2010, Canada has forgiven $65 million of what Pakistan owes us.  Wouldn’t it be nice to forgive that amount of business debt carried by Canadian companies?

You get the point.  It’s a choice: funding a corrupt government with very questionable objectives or supporting our businesses at home.  The choice is being made today.  On your behalf.  By your elected officials.  Without giving you a chance to voice your concerns.

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  1. Denis……good article but frustrating to say the least. Common sense would dictate that our money should help Canadians first but politically speaking it just doesn’t work that way. Why our country is helping Pakistan is beyond comprehension. Revolutionaries, liars, killers are certainly not worthy of being helped…….but like you say, the decisions have already been made………again, it’s politics as usual and the little guy is left out in the cold.

  2. A family has a say over where there after tax income goes and some at times is directed to a charity or cause, after some consideration and percieved/actual need. How much consideration is done by countries? Are they using outdated policy by outdated departments?

    Even when a new government / party is elected, very often older rules, acts and policy remain, time is yesterday for a realistic review on every block of dollars used!

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