Robert Greenhill, who is leaving his job as president of the Canadian International Development Agency, says the federal agency has become more focused and accountable in the past two years.
With his three-year term at CIDA about to expire, he has accepted the job of chief business officer at the World Economic Forum. The forum is an independent organization that believes in fostering social development through economic progress.
Some members of the Canadian aid community say Mr. Greenhill, an appointee of former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, was never comfortable working under the current Conservative government and had been looking for a way out. But Mr. Greenhill dismisses that speculation.
"My time here has underlined my belief that Canada is one of the best governed countries in the world," he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
And he is proud of his accomplishments. "In terms of having to become more focused and accountable, we made huge progress, including in the last two years."
This is true of the work that Canada is doing in Haiti and Afghanistan, he said.
And it is also true, he said, of the "tremendous progress" that is being made in Africa, where Canada's aid commitment this year is $2.1-billion.
Ottawa pledged in 2005 to double annual aid to Africa to $2.8-billion by 2008. But, because the actual amount of Canadian aid that reached Africa in 2005 was $1.05-billion, the government has since argued that doubling aid meant increasing it to $2.1-billion by 2008-09.
Mr. Greenhill said there have been major strides - like the untying of aid dollars to a requirement that they be used to buy food from Canada. When he came to CIDA, he said, 90 per cent of the money sent to ease famine-afflicted regions was given out with that stipulation.
"Now that our aid is 100 per cent untied, it means Canada can purchase the food where it's cheapest and quickest to get to those who need it and because it tends to be purchased locally or regionally, you are also purchasing African or local agriculture."
Mr. Greenhill was president of Bombardier International Group between 2000 and 2004, before moving to the International Development Research Centre.