Skip to main content

Minister of International Development Christian Paradis responds during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 3, 2014. Canada has a new development partner in the Arab world, and the foreign-aid minister says it could help the Harper government navigate the complex Middle East in the fight against poverty

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Canada has a new development partner in the Arab world, and the foreign-aid minister says it could help the federal government navigate the complex Middle East in the fight against poverty.

Canada signed a development co-operation agreement with the United Arab Emirates this week at a major international development meeting in Mexico.

The deal's main goals are to reduce poverty, support economic growth and promote human rights.

Story continues below advertisement

More broadly, it helps position Canada as a friend to the Arab world at a time when the Harper government is seen as unabashedly pro-Israel.

Development Minister Christian Paradis said Canada was looking forward to working with the U.A.E., and touted his counterpart, Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, as "a great woman."

Mr. Paradis said the U.A.E. wants to tap Canada for its development expertise as its own international aid agency is being launched. And he said the U.A.E. can help Canada better target aid dollars to the so-called Arab Street.

"They are very knowledgeable, they can direct us on some practical measures on the ground," Mr. Paradis said in an interview from Mexico City.

"We have a good reputation and they want to replicate our public policy."

The deal echoes the bridge building that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has undertaken with the U.A.E., an influential ally of Canada in the Arab and Muslim world.

A year ago, Mr. Baird and his U.A.E. counterpart, Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, resolved a three-year diplomatic dispute by announcing the end of a visa on Canadian travellers to the Emirates.

Story continues below advertisement

The two countries became embroiled in a dispute that started when Canada declined to give additional landing rights to a pair of U.A.E. airlines. The U.A.E. evicted the Canadian Forces from a military base near Dubai, which had been an important staging ground for the Afghanistan mission.

Mr. Baird expended much energy in trying to repair the relationship, and appeared to do so by forging a close working relationship with Sheik Zayed.

The countries have since signed a nuclear co-operation deal and have created a Canada-U.A.E. business council to improve commercial relationships.

Mr. Paradis said he's keen to forge foreign-aid partnerships that recognize the need to engage with private sector partners.

As the Mexico meeting wrapped, Mr. Paradis announced two more projects Thursday designed to increase private-sector involvement in international development. They include the Frontier Markets project, which will offer help to small and medium-sized businesses in anti-poverty projects in developing countries.

The private-sector focus in development has opened the government to criticism. But Mr. Paradis said he held discussions with many like-minded countries in Mexico last week, including France, which has an "economic diplomacy" model similar to the new approach announced by Canada late last year.

Story continues below advertisement

The world will be moving into a new phase in the anti-poverty fight as the era of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals draws to a close next year.

Mr. Paradis said Canada will be pushing for greater private-sector involvement in the creation of a new set of post-2015 development goals.

"We will have to think about innovative financial tools for sure," he said.

"Down the road, what we want to keep in mind is these goals are for the eradication of poverty."

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies