By John Deverell, Catch 22 campaign
The Harper cabinet has killed off its own plan to spend $70 million yearly promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law in developing countries.
The scheme for a Canadian Centre for Advancing Democracy was originated by Peter Mackay while he was Minister for External Affairs and promoted in the 2008 speech from the throne. Since then, nothing.
It seems to have occurred to the boss, in a moment of blinding clarity, that you can’t export what you don’t have. It is very difficult to explain to people in undemocratic countries why the Canadian system, in which half the voters elect nobody, is democratic.
So there will be no new centre, and other Canadian organizations which do promote what the government calls “democracy” abroad are having their difficulties with Ottawa.
Funding for the Forum of the Federations will dry up in March. Montreal-based Rights and Democracy has struggled to regain its reputation after a very public battle over management of the organization and accusations of Conservative meddling.
Last fall, CIDA stopped funding the Parliamentary Centre of Canada's program in Haiti to help advise legislators just as that country began to prepare for an election and as local politicians searched for more accountability in aid spending.
For more read: Dream of Canadian democracy centre melts as Arab world boils