September 16, 2019
The Right Honourable David Johnston
Leaders’ Debates Commission
155 Queen St., Suite 301
Ottawa ON. K1P 6L1
Dear Mr. Johnston,
The Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC), Canada’s national association representing Canadian organizations working globally in sustainable development and humanitarian assistance, and its undersigned members are writing to ask the Leaders’ Debate Commission to include questions on Canada's foreign policy and international development efforts during the leaders’ debates the week of October 7.
Canadians care about their country’s global reputation and are rightfully proud of all that Canada and Canadians have accomplished through its diplomacy, military, trade, and development engagements. From the Suez to Syria and from acid rain to anti-personnel landmines, Canada has a strong tradition of constructive and impactful global engagement. Today's rapidly changing world will require continued agility and resolve by our elected government if Canada is to both influence global change and adapt to it.
The Canadian population knows the importance of international assistance as part of this engagement. A recent survey by Nanos and the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH)1 found that:
71% of Canadians agree we have a moral obligation to help people in developing countries.
90% see international aid as contributing to greater global stability and peace.
90% agree that when developing countries are stable places to work and live, we all benefit.
81% agree that Canada should do its fair share to help other countries.
Canadians understand that Canada does best when the rest of the world does well. Yet they also substantially overestimate Canada’s international assistance – with Canada’s Official Development Assistance now representing a near-all-time low relative to Gross National Income. This represents the continuation of declining investment in international assistance over decades.
Canadians have a right to know how their leaders will lead, abroad just as at home. The leaders’ debates can play an important role in this regard. I trust our appeal will be taken into consideration. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this matter further with you and members of your Advisory Board if appropriate.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)