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A Rohingya mother from Myanmar attends a medical check-up run by a NGO with her child, in a refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar August 17, 2009. Rohingyas, not recognised as an ethnic minority by Myanmar, allege human rights abuse by its authorities, saying they deprive Rohingya of free movement, education and rightful employment. Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on August 10 said the continuous flow of illegal entrants was causing huge damage to the country's land, forest and other resources. (ANDREW BIRAJ/Andrew Biraj/Reuters)
A Rohingya mother from Myanmar attends a medical check-up run by a NGO with her child, in a refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar August 17, 2009. Rohingyas, not recognised as an ethnic minority by Myanmar, allege human rights abuse by its authorities, saying they deprive Rohingya of free movement, education and rightful employment. Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on August 10 said the continuous flow of illegal entrants was causing huge damage to the country's land, forest and other resources. (ANDREW BIRAJ/Andrew Biraj/Reuters)

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Canada's foreign aid budget: Election letter of the day, April 17 Add to ...

Each weekday the Globe and Mail will choose one election-related letter from our readers to highlight online. For more letters, click here.

Canada's foreign aid budget

The points made by two letter-writers on Saturday are excellent, but there are no votes by the world's poor in Canadian elections.

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The aid budget has become one more political football. If it were still a tool for sustainable development, Canadians would be hearing about the impact of long-term investments and partnerships with developing countries. To take just one example, Bangladesh, formerly Canada's largest recipient of development assistance: We'd hear about the millions of lives saved throughout the developing world due to Canadian and other support for the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, in reducing the global burden of disease. Or how about the payoff from our early support for BRAC, now the largest NGO in the world, one of our partner agencies in Afghanistan and with its own domestic and foreign development assistance programs? Or the Grameen Bank's microfinance programs, in which Canada was one of the earliest and most dependable partners and is a continued investor in spinoff programs? Notwithstanding the political controversy in which Grameen is currently mired, its achievements have been massive, yet Canada's share in them is largely unknown to the taxpayers who funded them.

There's the rub - the trouble with development results is that they take so darned long to achieve! Inconveniently, you cannot attach a political logo to them, since they inevitably reflect work under several governments and possibly several parties. Moreover, credit for results has to be shared with development country innovators and with other international donor partners. Canadians don't hear about the real results of our development programs abroad, positive or negative, because development staff and communications officers are muzzled. The focus now is all about investments - so much more easily spun than results. Canadians are the poorer for that change, as is the world.

Kate Preston, Ottawa

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