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ONE Action applauds Mulcair for committing to reverse trend in foreign aid cuts

TORONTO – Asked about foreign assistance spending during Monday night’s Federal Election Debate on Foreign Policy, New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair said:

“I think that it is a fundamental Canadian value to do more — to help the neediest in the world; to help on issues like in international cases of poverty; help build democracy in the world; help defend women’s rights — those are core Canadian values. And don’t forget: we’ve dropped by about half the percentage of our gross national income that we’re dedicating now to foreign aid. We’re down to under 0.25 percent, which is lamentable compared to other countries. I mean, David Cameron’s conservative government has brought that country up to the 0.7 percent. That will be the goal. We’ll set a timeline for that with an NDP government to get us to that important goal of 0.7 percent. Because Canadians understand that it’s only by investing that we can help democracy, that we can help to alleviate poverty, and that, importantly as well, we can help build Canada’s standing in the world. We’ve lost that.”

The following statement can be attributed to Stuart Hickox, Canada Director for ONE Action:

“There’s no question that foreign policy will be a significant part of this election, and the critical role that foreign assistance has played in Canadian foreign policy for decades certainly ought to be part of the conversation, as well. That Canada’s foreign assistance budget was asked about in this debate is proof of that.”

“ONE Action agrees with Mr. Mulcair that Canada can and should increase its foreign assistance spending, and appreciates his interest in putting Canada on a track for getting Canada’s foreign aid investment to 0.7 percent. After years of cuts to the foreign assistance budget, getting up to even half of that would be welcome progress.”

“Canada has long been a leader in global development issues, especially recently with a significant new focus on the health of mothers, newborn babies, and children. Sadly, Canada appears to be stepping back from its historic leadership at a time when it needs to be stepping up. Deep cuts to Canada’s overall aid budget are part of a disturbing trend away from the country’s traditional leadership role, and no political leader has made a serious effort to date to reverse the trend.”

“Mr. Harper, Mr. Trudeau, and Ms. May should now also promise to reverse the steady decline in Canada’s financial support for humanitarian and global development efforts. All of the leaders should also commit to refocusing our foreign assistance to ensure that 50 percent of it goes to the world’s least developed countries.”

“We hope other candidates will let voters know where they stand on issues of global development and, over the course of the campaign, ONE Action and its members around the country are going to press the candidates for their plans to fight extreme poverty around the world.”