D&P relaunches fall campaign
By Michael Swan
TORONTO (CCN) — The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s fall education campaign is back on, but without postcards urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to launch a national consultation on foreign aid policy.
Campaign literature has been tweaked to allay bishops’ concerns
that the campaign was too political, said national council president
Ronald Breau. The basic program remains a critique of recent changes
in Canadian foreign aid policy.
This year’s discussion of aid policy veers off-course
from a five-year plan of ecological education campaigns. But the change
of direction is necessary, said Breau.
“National council members were adamant that it was important to
do this campaign and set the ecological campaign aside for one year,” Breau
told The Catholic Register. “I would expect that we would return
to the ecological campaign in the future.”
The relaunch features a four-page question-and-answer primer
foreign aid policy, a campaign poster, a checklist for meetings with
members of Parliament, a membership brochure and an appeal for year-round
The most substantial document in the campaign, a discussion
paper on development aid policy, was still awaiting approval from the
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ standing committee on its development
agency and Development and Peace’s own liaison committee for talks
with the bishops’ conference.
Breau expects the discussion paper will pass final scrutiny about a week
after the Oct. 15 campaign launch.
“I feel we’ve responded to the concerns that were expressed
to us. We’ve taken the necessary steps and I don’t expect
any delays at all,” he said.
It will be the first time in more than a decade that members
be asking parishioners to sign postcards or petitions. Postcards printed
in August that asked Harper to establish a parliamentary committee to
examine the direction of Canadian aid policy will not be sent out.
Instead of “action cards,” Development and
Peace leadership is encouraging parish and diocesan council members to
meet with their MPs to discuss aid policy.
An open, national discussion about how Canada spends its
shrinking aid budget is overdue, said Nippa Banerjee, a University of
Ottawa aid and development professor. Canada was the first country to
deliver foreign aid through non-governmental organizations, unions, church-based
organizations and private sector groups. CIDA’s partnership branch
was an innovation in the 1970s that made aid more flexible and more tightly
focused on the goals of poor people, said Banerjee. Other donor countries
eventually imitated the Canadian model.
In recent years the partnership branch has been hobbled by underfunding, a bid-for-tender system that discourages long-term thinking and a decidedly more political direction, Banerjee said.