- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 26 Jan 1967, p. 172-186
- Strong, Maurice F., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The widening of the gap between the rich nations and the poor nations over the last decade. Consequences, as seen throughout history, of failing to heed the cries of hungry people on the march. Assistance to the needy and under-privileged beginning with the Christian missionary movement, but large-scale government-to-government aid as a post-World War II phenomena. The art and skill of helping nations to help themselves new, and the techniques of doing it effectively as yet imperfectly developed. The decline in the net amount of money flowing into the developing countries under aid programmes during each of the past five years. The relationship between trade and aid. What must be done to close the gap between the rich and the poor. The important and legitimate role that governments have to play in re-distributing wealth. The stability and prosperity of the world as a whole and its dependence on our willingness to provide aid on a vastly increasing scale. Progress that has been made. The situation in India. The problem of population explosion. The inter-relation between population growth and economic and social improvement. The alarm shown in recent days at the lag in the flow of aid to the developing countries. Some figures. Canada's external aid programme. Canada as founders of the Colombo Plan and participation since then. Some basic attributes of the Canadian aid programme. Canada's part to play as a leader in the struggle to build strong and viable societies in the developing world. The challenge for Canada.
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- 26 Jan 1967
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- JANUARY 26, 1967
International DevelopmentCanada's Centennial Challenge
AN ADDRESS BY Maurice F. Strong
DIRECTOR GENERAL EXTERNAL AID OFFICE, OTTAWA
CHAIRMAN, The President, R. Bredin Stapells, Q.C.
The Jewish philosopher Maimonides, eight centuries ago, wrote the creed for all foreign aid programmes:
"Anticipate charity by preventing poverty; Assist the reduced fellowman, either by a considerable gift, or a sum of money, or by teaching him a trade or by putting him in the way of a business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding out his hand for charity."
Canada's foreign aid programme sends instructors abroad, brings students here, has constructed a vast hydro electric project, and a jet airport, made interest-free loans, supported the Colombo plan and Nato defence, all to the tune of some $5 billion or more since World War 11.
Last October we acquired a new man at our office of external aid. To what kind of man did we give the spending of over $300,000,000 annually?
At the age of 15, Manitoba born Maurice Strong apprenticed to a Hudson Bay fur trader at Chesterfield Inlet. Two years later he had his own mining exploration company and then served as a member of the Secretariat of the United Nations. And before he had ceased to be an infant in law was an analyst for the investment house of James Richardson & Sons and then assistant to the President of Dome Explorations.
To get married is thought to be a settling down affair. But to Mr. & Mrs. Strong it meant a two year trip around the world. During this trip, he helped establish a graphite mine in Tanganyika and set up a string of service stations in central Africa.
Returning to Canada and the business world, he proceeded through senior executive offices with Dome Petroleum and Canadian Industrial Gas, to the Presidency of Power Corporation of Canada Limited in 1964 at the age of 35. In this capacity he was responsible for the re-investing of millions of Power Corporation's dollars and, in particular, the bringing back to Canada of the control of Consolidated Paper Corporation.
Mr. Strong only took the Power Corporation job on terms-at least one-half of his time must be available for service work. This was mostly for the Y.M.C.A. whose National President he now is.
The story goes that Paul Martin called Maurice to tell him the job at the External Aid Office was open, but he wouldn't want it, would he? "Well," came the not too hesitant reply, "if that was an offer, the answer was yes!" And so from the 41st floor of the Place Ville Marie and minus some 30 directorships, a light-hearted Maurice Strong went to Ottawa because, as he said, this is the first job I haven't put a time limit on and it's consistent with everything I'm interested in.
With considerable anticipation then, I introduce to you Maurice F. Strong, Director General of the External Aid Office, who will address us on "International DevelopmentCanada's Centennial Challenge".
I very much welcome the opportunity of speaking to you today about Canada's role in the field of international economic and social development, and the particular challenge which it represents to us as we enter into our second century of nationhood. From its earliest days as a nation, Canada has had a tradition of active interest and involvement in the affairs of the world beyond our own borders. We have sent our sons to fight on the battlefields of three continents. But today we are involved in a new kind of war -a global struggle against poverty, hunger and disease. These age-old enemies of man maintain their tyranny over two-thirds of the world's population. It is reliably estimated that in the next ten years starvation alone could claim as many lives as all the wars in history. This is not a struggle of man against man, but of man joining with man in united action against this mounting threat to the security of all mankind.
Of course, poverty, hunger and disease are not new. Man has struggled against them since the very beginnings of life on this planet. What is new about today's struggle is that for the first time in human history we have the capacity to win if we have the will and the persistence to do so. What is also new is that we must win if civilized life is to continue to flourish on this planet. For today the miracles of modern science and technology have indeed given the world the space-time dimensions of a single community. But we have yet to make the immense adjustments in our own attitudes and behaviour patterns which will be required if we are to endow it with the corresponding economic, social and political dimensions.
As Honourable Paul Martin, Minister of External Affairs, said recently: "No world can be truly at peace when half its people go to bed hungry each night, when medical relief has yet to be brought to millions, when economic opportunity for so many of our fellow men is restricted to a daily struggle with infertile land or the back-breaking labour of primitive industrial tasks. We would not tolerate these conditions in our own land, not only because they are an affront to human dignity but because they would constitute a choking rein on our progress as a nation.
And what cannot be accepted in a single country cannot be allowed to exist in the world of today, where selfcontainment is nothing more than dangerous delusion."
Yet in the last decade the gap between the rich nations and the poor nations widened further. During this period the peoples of the advanced countries of the free world increased their per capita annual income by some $330 which is twice as much as total per capita income in most of the developing world. Even the more optimistic predictions indicate that in the foreseeable future the gulf between the rich and the poor will continue to widen unless we are prepared to do much more than we have been doing to help those who are less privileged than we are.
As Barbara Ward points out: "It is very much easier for a rich man to invest and grow than for the poor man to begin investing at all. And this is also true of nations. The new world is not yet born. This being so, the gap between the rich and the poor has inevitably become the most tragic and most urgent problem of our day."
No longer can we take refuge in what Gunnar Myrdal called "the convenience of ignorance". We know of their plight and they know of our affluence. Today, as never before, they dare to hope that it might be possible for them too, or at least their children, to enjoy a better life. History has many examples of those who have failed to heed the cries of hungry people on the march. Yesterday they clamoured at the gates of Versailles and at the entrance to the Winter Palace at Petrograd; today they are on our doorstep. For they are our neighbours. Today our destiny as a nation is intertwined as never before with the needs, the hungers and the hopes of all mankind.
Assistance to the needy and under-privileged people of other lands really began with the Christian missionary movement but large-scale government-to-government aid programmes are a post-World War II phenomena.
The art of helping nations to help themselves is therefore a relatively new one and the techniques of doing it effectively are as yet imperfectly developed. Errors have been made and much has as yet to be learned, but we have come a long way during the past two decades. The developing nations have now the administrative and technical capacity to utilize effectively at least $4 billion per year more aid than they now receive, in the opinion of Mr. George B. Woods, President of the World Bank. What a paradox it is then that, having reached this point, many of the people of the developed countries who are enjoying unprecedented affluence, are showing some disturbing signs of what Prime Minister Pearson has called "a weariness towards well-doing".
It seems to be in the North American character to assume that all problems are capable of quick solution and to lose interest if our efforts do not produce some early and significant, identifiable signs of success.
The net amount of money flowing into the developing countries under aid programmes has declined during each of the past five years. At the same time prices of most of the commodities on which the developing countries depend for their export income, have declined substantially. In some cases these declines have been sufficient to offset completely the foreign exchange benefits of foreign aid. In recognition of this, a concerted effort is now being made to work out international commodity agreements covering such key commodities as sugar and cocoa, which would enable developing countries to enjoy a more stable and dependable income from these basic crops. Trade and aid are therefore related. The efforts to improve the trading position of the developing countries must be given highest priority and be harmonized with an increasing flow of resources under aid programmes if we are to close the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The problems of the developing countries are not capable of quick or easy solution. They will be with us for many years. External aid, or development assistance as I prefer to call it, will be a feature of international life for the foreseeable future. We must learn to accept the cost of our aid programmes, just as we accept the cost of our welfare programmes and our defence expenditures as part of the necessary fabric of our nationhood.
In our own society we have long accepted the concept that governments have an important and legitimate role to play in re-distributing wealth so that those at the lower part of the economic scale may enjoy at least a certain minimum standard of life and opportunity. In large measure the stability and the prosperity of our society depend on this. Through the medium of government sponsored foreign aid programmes, we are now witnessing the extension of this principle into international life. The stability and prosperity of the world as a whole will depend on our willingness to do this on a vastly increasing scale.
The war against poverty, hunger and disease lacks the dramatic qualities, the sharp divisions, the clearly defined objectives and the easily identifiable results which charac terize a military war. This is a war where there can be no unconditional surrender, where the shadowy outlines of friend and foe, victory and defeat often appear blurred and elusive in the grey twilight of mundane events. News is more likely to be made by our occasional failures and mistakes, while our victories can only take shape gradually and imperceptibly in the long and slow changes in the attitudes and the quality of life of millions of people.
In fact, the progress which has been made is formidable in many areas. For example between the early 1950's and the 1960's the number of children in primary schools in Africa and South America doubled; in Asia it more than doubled. Installed power capacity in developing countries doubled in the decade 1953-1963, and production of electrical energy in these countries is now more than two-thirds of the amount produced in Western Europe and North America before the last World War. Industrial production has doubled in the past ten years and production of steel has tripled. The Indian railways today are carrying two and one-half times as much freight as they did in the first year of Indian independence. The President of the World Bank reported at its Annual Meeting last September that there are about fifteen countries where the basic conditions for economic advance are such that they could become relatively independent from foreign assistance within the next 10-15 years.
The imminent threat of famine in India makes front page news these days. It is indeed an ominous threat. And Canada's response was quick and decisive. Within days after the seriousness of the impending emergency was made known to the Canadian Government, Prime Minister Pearson announced a special gift of $21 million in wheatbringing to $71 million Canada's food aid to India in 1966. When news of the Canadian action was announced in India, the entire Indian Parliament stood and cheered Canada and newspapers all over India heralded the news.
But there is another side to the picture of India. Behind the tragic drama of famine is a more hopeful story-one of progress in breaking down ancient barriers to permit greater food production; of successful experiments with new technology; of new strains of wheat; of large new tracts of land being placed under cultivation; of growing use of fertilizers. Vast changes have indeed been taking place in Indian agriculture, and experts now believe that with concerted efforts by the Indians themselves and additional help from the developed countries, it is possible for India to approach self-sufficiency in food production in the foreseeable future. The population explosion has commanded a great deal of public attention, too, in recent times. In the past several years the world's nurseries have been out-producing the world's farms. But although there is cause for real concern in the fantastic arithmetic of the world's growing population, there are also hopeful signs that this problem, too, is capable of resolution.
The inter-relation between population growth and economic and social improvement has been widely acknowledged today and in many countries, including India, there is evidence that changing attitudes and large-scale programmes of population control are beginning to be effective. Although the developing countries finance themselves on the average at least 3/a of their investment from their own savings, our assistance provides the vital additional ingredient, particularly in terms of foreign exchange, so necessary for them to achieve their development goals. It is a significant fact that development assistance amounting to less than 1 % of the gross national income of the industrialized countries, when it is transferred to the under-developed world, equals about 25 % of new capital formation.
It is not hard to understand, then, why the voices of those who are best informed about these conditions-people like World Bank President George Woods and British economist Barbara Ward-have been raised in alarm in recent days at the lag in the flow of aid to the developing countries. In the past 5 years while net aid flows were declining, each year the GNP of the industrialized countries grew by more than $200 billion-a rate of between $40 and $50 billion a year. The total of approximately $9 billion, which now flows to the less-developed countries, net of interest and principal repayments on their debt, is between 20% and 25% of this annual increase. It represents less than 5 % of the amount which the developed countries are currently spending each year for military purposes. Could anyone seriously argue that we cannot afford to do more? Surely these figures require those of us who acknowledge a sense of moral and ethical values to examine our own sense of priority.
We can take some pride in the fact that Canada today is one of the few nations which has been increasing its expenditures for development assistance. In the current fiscal year funds available for our assistance to developing countries will total slightly over $300 million-or about 6/10 of 1% of our GNP at factor cost. Our expenditures have been increasing by about $50 million per year and the Minister of External Affairs, Honourable Paul Martin, has stated that it is the intention of the government, subject to economic conditions, to increase them to the point where they will approximate the internationally accepted target of 1 % of GNP by the early 1970's. It is a dramatic mark of the progress we have made in this nation that in 1966 we spent about 22 times more on external aid than the total Federal Government budget during the first year of Confederation. On the other side of the coin, this is still only about 1/3 of what we spend on tobacco and 1/a of what we spent on alcohol in a year, and about 1/5 of our defence budget.
Canada's external aid programme really began in 1950, when we were one of the founders of the Colombo Plan. Since then we have spent about $1 billion on bilateral aid, about 80% of it through the Colombo Plan, and another $330 million on multilateral aid. Today about one-half of our expenditures are made within the framework of the Colombo Plan. I cannot mention the Colombo Plan without referring to the death just last week of Nik Cavell-the man who did so much to establish Canada's leading role in the early days of the Colombo Plan and to create the framework for our present External Aid programme. His contribution to his country and his times was a distinctive and significant one and he will be sadly missed.
In 1958 we began our programme of assistance to the Caribbean area. It has now been increased to a level of over $13 million per year. Then in 1960 we began assistance to Africa, where our help to Commonwealth and former French countries has now reached the level of some $27 million per year. In 1964 we. initiated a programme of development loans to Latin America, which is administered by the InterAmerican Development Bank. In the past three years we have set aside $10 million per year for this programme. We also support special programmes such as CUSO, the Commonwealth Scholarship Fund and projects of emergency relief. Our contributions to the multilateral agencies, such as the World Bank, the International Development Association, the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations Development Program and other multilateral programmes will amount to some $31.6 million in the 1966-67 fiscal year.
All of our multilateral assistance and some 60% of bilateral assistance is provided on the basis of direct grants. About 20% of our bilateral aid is provided in the form of development loans; most of it is for a period of 50 years, free of interest with a 10-year grace period for repayment. We place a great deal of emphasis on education and technical assistance. Our programmes in this area have increased substantially during the past six years. There are now about 1,150 Canadians serving overseas in 43 countries under External Aid contracts, of which about 2/3 are teachers or professors; and the remainder technical advisers. This compares with a total of 84 in 1960. In addition there are some 570 volunteers serving overseas under the CUSO programme which, as most of you know, is a privately inspired and administered programme that receives financial support from both government and private sources. There was also a total of some 2,900 students and trainees in Canada during 1966 from some 57 countries; compared with 709 in 1960. These people are receiving from colleges, universities, technical training institutes and co-operative, labour and business organizations in every part of Canada, the kind of training which is not available in their own countries. Incidentally, it might interest you to know that at the present time the largest contingent is from Vietnam. The principal need of all developing countries is for trained and educated people. The Canadian programme is designed to provide training for teachers and trainees who can pass along their skills to others, and so multiply the effectiveness of the assistance we give them.
The Canadians we are sending overseas in increasing numbers are giving a good account of themselves. They are carrying the tradition of pioneering on which the develop ment of our own country was based into the new frontiers of economic and social advancement in the developing countries. These second century Canadian pioneers are writing exciting new chapters in the history of the nation.
I wish I had time here to tell you some of their stories. But many of you will hear them direct for you will meet them as you travel in the far places of the world-or when they return to the house next door-or your own.
But in addition to sending out Canadian teachers, professors and technical advisers, Canada's External Aid programme provides the developing countries with substantial assistance of a capital nature. We help to provide the basic infrastructure on which industrial, agricultural and social development depend-the hydro-electric power and multipurpose dams, irrigation projects, bridges, harbours, railroads, schools, universities, technical institutes, hospitals, clinics-even atomic reactors for peaceful development purposes in India and Pakistan. We have done a great deal to assist a number of countries in developing their mineral and forestry resources and improving the production of their fisheries and their farms. We supply food-principally wheat and flour, a total of 80,000 tons a month in 1966, and a variety of commodities such as pulpwood, asbestos, sulphur, fertilizer and metals which are vitally needed to ensure effective utilization of industrial capacity. Food and commodity aid serve a double purpose. They meet an immediate need and permit the recipient country to save scarce foreign exchange reserves which it can use to support expanded programmes of long-term development. Also, because they are distributed by the recipient government to local users, they produce local currency which is held in a fund, called a counterpart fund. These counterpart funds are then used for development purposes within the country and in this way Canadian gifts of food and commodities give rise to new hospitals, schools, bridges, and other projects which make a long-term impact on the country's development.
Under our bilateral aid programme Canada provides its assistance primarily in the form of Canadian goods and services. We give what Canada's got. Approximately 90% of our bilateral aid budget is spent in Canada and provides employment for Canadians. Even more important, though, is the fact that it enables Canadian goods and services to become known in the markets of the developing world where the potential for future growth is so vast. It also enables Canadians to become acquainted with these markets, to gain valuable experience in international dealings and operations. This is, indeed, an important consideration for no country is more dependent on foreign trade for its prosperity than is Canada. Many Canadian firms have had their principal introduction to markets in the developing countries through the medium of contracts under our External Aid programme.
Our aid programme has certain other basic attributes. I would like to mention:
1. It is responsive in nature. We provide assistance only in response to specific requests. We do not, of course, respond favourably to all requests and we subject all of them to careful evaluation-but we do not attempt to impose on the developing countries assistance they do not want or need. 2. It is a partnership operation between Canada and the recipient country. Generally this means that we provide the Canadian goods and services required for a project and they provide shipping and local costs. And always it means close co-operation in planning and developing the project. 3. It is designed to promote self-help-to enable the recipients to develop their own economic and social capacities. 4. There are no political strings attached. While we insist on assuring that our funds are effectively spent for the purposes intended, we do not tie them to political conditions. For example, our aid to Tanzania, Indonesia, Ceylon and Guinea was continued despite the serious disruptions which took place in relations between these countries and other major Western nations. This is one aspect of Canadian aid policy which has won wide recognition and respect for Canada in the developing nations.
In the past 16 years we have gained a good deal of experience in the administration of our aid programmes. On the basis of this experience we have been improving our techniques and re-shaping our policies and programmes. This is evidenced by the recent announcement by the Honourable Paul Martin that Canada will be concentrating its aid to a greater extent in those countries where we can make the most effective contribution. He also said that a greater effort is to be made to harness the substantial resources which exist in the private sector of Canadian society. We want our assistance programmes to become more and more an expression of the best which the totality of Canadian society has to offer to the developing world. After all, government aid programmes owe their original inspiration and many of their techniques to the programmes of the Christian missions and other voluntary agencies which have been at work improving economic and social conditions in Africa, Asia and Latin America for many years. The concept of individual responsibility and private initiative is basic to the Canadian way of life. We would like to see our government aid programmes complemented and supplemented by an increasing amount of private initiative on the part of voluntary service organizations, church groups, co-operatives and business and industry. Private agencies can do so much to create the direct personal channels of relationship between Canadian citizens and the peoples of the developing world.
Another trend in our external aid operations is the increasing degree to which we are co-ordinating our aid activities with those of the World Bank and other multilateral agencies. Much of this co-ordination is achieved through the consortium and consultative groups set up by the World Bank.
The fact that Canada's aid programme is expanding while that of most of the major donor countries is remaining static or declining gives us a very special opportunity-and responsibility. Our resources can tip the balance in decisions affecting the lives of millions of people. It is a sobering thought.
No nation is better suited than Canada to play a leading part in the momentous struggle to build strong and viable societies in the developing world. We know the difficulties of nation-building. We have many of the attributes and attitudes of both a developed and a developing nation. We have all of the complexes and the sensitivities which derive from being overshadowed by a powerful neighbour. We have felt the agonizing pangs of struggling to forge unity of purpose and a sense of national identity out of a diversity of cultural traditions, and an inconvenient geography. We can identify readily with the peoples of the new nations, and they with us. We have our own problems of under-development in some parts of Canada. But at the same time we are one of the world's leading industrial nations. We have experience and expertise in many of the fields most basic to the needs of the developing countries-principally in the development of resources, in agriculture, education, transportation and power. The majority of our people enjoy the world's highest standards of living. The two main cultural and language components of the mosaic of Canadian society give us an especially valuable resource as French and English are either the first or second language in the education and commerce of most of the developing nations.
Greatness in nations as in individuals requires greatness of purpose and direction. While self-interest alone is more than sufficient to justify our assistance to the developing peoples of the world, it is not and should not be our principal motive. The concept of giving, not just of our substance but of ourselves to others in need is central to the JudeoChristian system of values on which our way of life is based. Today we know of the needs-we have the capacity to meet them. Surely we cannot be true to our own ideals if we "pass by on the other side".
More human lives are at stake today in the war on hunger and poverty than in all the "hot" wars of history. But also at issue in this war are the very values which give life itself its meaning and purpose. It is a challenge to the conscience of all mankind that this war can be won if we are prepared to give it the priority and make available the resources we have always been prepared to commit to our "hot" wars.
For Canada this challenge contains a call to greatness. No nation has been more richly endowed with the human and material resources required to play a leading part in this struggle. Many nations have made their mark on world history by their mastery of the arts of war. But Canadians have a God-given opportunity today as we enter into our second century of nationhood to engrave in the annals of history the story of a people who gave priority to the search for peace and economic and social justice for all the world's people.
Surely this is a purpose worthy of a great nation!
Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Mr. Joseph McCulley.