Transparency and Canadian Foreign Aid


By Stephen Brown and John Sinclair, The Huffington Post, 1 August 2011
It has always been hard to get timely information on Canada's foreign aid. Now, thanks to the new "Open Government" initiative, data are easier to access on the Canadian International Development Agency's website. With this, CIDA promises "Increasing Transparency and Accountability Through Open Data." For the first time, downloadable data sets are made available to the public on annual disbursements of all forms of Canadian aid to all recipient countries. This is a great first step.
Closer examination, however, reveals some other fudging of the data. In 2005, the (Liberal) government promised to double aid to Africa between 2003-04 and 2008-09. Technically, the (Conservative) government did do so -- but only after the baseline figure was adjusted downwards, allowing the government to fall $700 million short of the initial pledge without technically breaking it, at least according to its interpretation of the promise.
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