May 19, 2010- Michael Ignatieff's "One Canada" tour addresses enterprise and opportunity with African Canadian community leaders

Michael Ignatieff’s “One Canada” tour addresses enterprise and opportunity with African Canadian community leaders
Published on May 19, 2010

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Calgary – As part of his “One Canada” tour, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff sat down with African Canadian community leaders today to map out a new strategy for enterprise and opportunity with Africa that goes beyond the Conservatives’ outmoded development aid model, which puts Canada’s innovative partnerships well behind other nations.

“Listening to those here today who have a wealth of business experience in Africa, it is clear to me that the Harper government’s approach on the continent is at least a decade out of date,” said Mr. Ignatieff.

“We are missing out on crucial opportunities to help communities build roads, rail lines, ports, highways, dams, schools and hospitals, and to foster a burgeoning social economy in areas with development challenges.” 

Those meeting with Mr. Ignatieff included community leaders working with newcomers from Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon and Somalia who have a keen sense of the market opportunities for investment and engagement and a true whole-of-government approach.

Those in attendance helped identify the strong linkages between poverty, conflict, security and development, and have seen firsthand how the social economy can drive an effective development strategy.

Liberal International Cooperation Critic Glen Pearson noted that one of the key weaknesses of the Harper government’s approach to Africa is its emphasis on short-term, quick-fix solutions to development challenges.

“Harper government initiatives are characterized by timelines of a few years in duration, when we need long-term strategies with individual governments,” Mr. Pearson said. “This not only allows for better aid, but also better business partnerships to develop.”

Mr. Ignatieff added that more representation from the African Canadian community is clearly needed if these partnerships are to succeed.

“We definitely need a better dialogue that will involve CIDA, Industry Canada and Foreign Affairs working in concert for a true whole-of-government approach, but let’s not forget we have the people here in Canada with the knowledge, the contacts and the business expertise to realize our shared objectives. Many of those key players are right here in this room,” said Mr. Ignatieff.

“Instead of working together, however, the Conservative government has exploited divisions and picked issues that polarize our communties and turn people against each other,” concluded Mr. Ignatieff. “Unlike the Conservatives, I want to address the challenges of inclusiveness and work together to build upon our common values, and to affirm, above all, we are one Canada first.”