PRESS RELEASE FROM RESULTS CANADA
The Hon. John McKay, P.C., M.P, Brings Message of Foreign Aid Reform to the U.S.
Parliamentarian speaks to American activists about what it takes to make aid work for the poor
The Honourable John McKay, P.C., M.P., having just achieved a major success in his own country by focusing foreign aid on the world’s poorest, will be coming to Washington next week to work with U.S. activists to help replicate the same kind of success in the U.S.
Although, the U.S. spends roughly $5 billion every year on assistance for developing countries, the majority of that money never makes it to the very poor. Most is spent on U.S. contractors and American commodities, managed by multiple U.S. agencies with a lack of coordination, and given primarily to countries where America has geopolitical interests. Rarely does foreign aid reach the people who need it most.
A growing movement of American think tanks, organizations, politicians and activists is beginning to ask why – and pushing for more emphasis on helping the world’s poor. Reaching out to the world’s poorest is not just an act of charity. By feeding the hungry, healing the sick and providing livelihoods for those who had none, foreign aid can create more stable, economically self-sufficient countries which are less likely to depend on aid in the future. But this requires that the aid be spent well and managed in an organized fashion.
The U.S. Congress has initiated hearings on modernizing foreign aid in an effort to improve its aid architecture. The last Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, establishing USAID in the context of the Cold War, has been amended so many times that the outcome is a fragmented and incohesive development policy unfit to tackle the problems of the 21st century.
While the U.S. has a long way to go in making its aid more effective, important lessons can be learned from Canada’s recent foray into foreign aid reform. On July 13, Canadian MP, the Hon. John McKay, will be addressing over 200 activists affiliated with RESULTS, an international grassroots anti-poverty lobby, at their conference in Washington, DC. He is among such eminent guests as Michel Kazatchkine of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria; David Lane, head of the One Campaign; and Francis Moore Lappe, noted food activist and author. These prominent movers and shakers will be highlighting the role of citizens in the global movement to end poverty – and the Hon. John McKay’s recent experience in Canada sheds light on how broad based citizen activism can ignite the political will necessary to ensure that aid works for the poorest.
Until recently, Canadians had no guarantee that their foreign aid truly reached the poor. This changed in May when Bill C-293, also known as Canada’s “Better Aid Bill” received unanimous support in the House of Commons. The legislation requires that Canadian foreign assistance contributes to poverty reduction, takes into account the perspectives of the poor, and that it is consistent with international human rights standards. After having successfully championed this Bill through Parliament, the Honourable McKay has taken little time to celebrate this tremendous victory. “Now the task is to have Canada’s official development assistance consistent with the Bill,” McKay says. “Business as usual is not an option.” By sharing the story of the passage of Canada’s” Better Aid Bill” with US activists, the Hon. McKay is broadening and strengthening this message of reform.
RESULTS is committed to educating the public, the media, and leaders about issues related to poverty and hunger in the United States and abroad. We hold public forums, train citizens in democracy, hold media conference calls to share the latest information, and produce quality oversight research to determine the effectiveness of programs for the poor.