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UBC Theses and Dissertations

CIDA and the aid-trade linkage MacKay, Edward Grant


The Canadian foreign aid program increasingly has been linked to trade and other commercial objectives- How and why has this happened? Has this been a successful linkage? What are the implications for Canada and its foreign aid program of this pursuit of the aid-trade linkage? This thesis attempts to answer these questions by exploring the origins and evolution of Canada's aid program, the political and bureaucratic status of Canada's aid agency, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the various policies and policy instruments employed in this recent orientation of aid. It is here argued that in the pragmatic origins of Canada's aid efforts, beginning with the Colombo Plan of the 1950s, lay the seeds for today's aid-trade policy linkage. These origins enabled the interests and objectives of other federal government departments to intrude on and often supersede developmental considerations in Canadian development assistance. As a result, the creation of a strong central aid agency has consistently been impeded, and the needs of Third World nations consistently overshadowed by domestic concerns. Exacerbating this situation was the fiscal restraint and domestic recession of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The pressures stemming from these twin problems gave the final impetus for the increasing integration of aid and commerce. While it is questionable whether linking aid with commerce serves Canada's political and economic interests, in either the short term or the long term, the federal government seems intent on continuing this policy trend. Indeed, the aid-trade linkage superficially resolves a number of administrative problems for CIDA, and enthusiastically is promoted as a bright new opportunity for Canada and its development partners. Conversely, efforts to reverse this policy trend face many obstacles in the Canadian polity and society. In the absence of decisive political leadership on this issue, then, aid-trade linkage is likely to continue.

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