Ottawa urges development of foreign-aid mining projects – by Kim Mackrael (Globe and Mail – March 2, 2015)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Ottawa — Foreign-aid projects that involve Canadian mining companies and non-governmental organizations have shown enough promise that the idea should be refined and then scaled up, International Development Minister Christian Paradis says.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail on Saturday, Mr. Paradis said he is still waiting for detailed evaluations on several projects, launched in 2011, that saw Ottawa partner with mining companies and non-governmental organizations.

But he said he’s encouraged by what he’s heard so far and believes the positive aspects of the programming can be replicated. “I think we can take the best from [the projects],” Mr. Paradis said.

“We will just put aside what we don’t want or what is not effective, and then I think we will have the levers to go after [mining co-operation] on a broader scale.”

The Conservative government has made mining a prominent part of its foreign-aid strategy in recent years, including by launching new aid programs in mineral-rich countries and establishing an institute on global mining policy. In total, Ottawa has 55 projects listed under its “extractives and sustainable development approach,” with a total value of close to $310-million, a spokeswoman for the department of foreign affairs said.

Former international co-operation minister Bev Oda announced in 2011 that the government would contribute funding to a small number of “pilot projects” in communities where Canadian mining companies do business. Those projects also received funding from the mining company and a non-governmental organization, and were run by the NGO.

The concept was controversial, with critics arguing that the government funding amounted to an indirect subsidy for corporate social responsibility work the companies should have been doing themselves.

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