CIDA Partnerships

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Many Canadian mining companies embrace corporate social Responsibility with environmental projects, training programs and special projects for youth - often in partnership with NGOs. This fall some of those projects also received millions of dollars from CIDA. But critics question, why Canada's International Development Agency, which has kicked other NGOs off its list, is using foreign aid dollars to support profitable companies.


Part One of The Current

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It's Thursday, January 26th.

The Harper government and First Nations chiefs say they'll review reports to get a handle on longstanding Aboriginal issues.

Currently, the deadline to submit their findings is set for anytime between soon-ish and someday.

This is The Current.

CIDA Partnerships - Rosemary McCarney

Steve Letwin is CEO of the Canadian mining company Iamgold. Among other holdings, Iamgold operates a mine in Burkina Faso in West Africa. Thanks to $5 million in funding from CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, Iamgold has partnered with the charity Plan Canada to run a program aimed at giving the country's young people better access to education and job training.

Through CIDA, Ottawa funds that project and three others, all of them involving Canadian extraction companies. All together, it's more than $25 million in taxpayer's money.

Critics, including some Canadian aid groups, say when CIDA partners with private companies, it strays from its central mission and undermines the independence of aid groups.

Rosemary McCarney doesn't see it that way. She is the President and CEO of Plan Canada, a charity that works towards social justice for children. It's partnered with CIDA and Iamgold on the education project in Burkina Faso. Rosemary McCarney was in Toronto.

CIDA Partnerships - Stephen Brown

There are three other similar CIDA-funded projects that partner mining companies and NGOs abroad. One in Ghana aims to diversify the local economy and provide access to clean drinking water. Another project in Peru is meant to ensure the money generated by the mining operations raises the standard of living of people living near the mine. And there's a project in Columbia, Peru and Bolivia aimed at putting in place sustainable development projects for people living near mining operations.

Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda has one take on these new partnerships funded by CIDA. Stephen Brown views them in a much different light. He is an associate professor of political science at the University of Ottawa and he's edited a forthcoming book on CIDA and Canadian foreign aid. He joined us from our studio in Ottawa.

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