Leadership and Development
Notes for an address by Hon. David Kilgour,
M.P, Edmonton Southeast
Secretary of State (Latin America &
to Canada World Youth
Edmonton House Suite Hotel, Edmonton, March
It is a pleasure and an honour to be able
to speak here today. Thank you for inviting
me. I would like to extend greetings to
all of you on behalf of the Federal government.
My special words of appreciation to the
organizers of this event. I want to commend
your hard work and dedication.
In keeping with the topic "Current
Trends and Preparing for the Future,"
let me begin by saying that young Canadians
are a vital force in national and global
development. You are the future of leadership.
The world today is complex and indeed challenging,
but I believe we can make a positive difference.
In my capacity as Secretary of State for
Latin America and Africa, I would like to
talk about a number of significant development
issues related to many of the countries
under my portfolio.
International development is not just a
trend, but a necessity. The government of
Canada is committed to supporting international
development and to spending money on it.
In that context, Id like to discuss
some personal views on why development abroad
should remain one of the priorities of our
national government and of Canadians.
During this governments last mandate,
three key foreign policy objectives were
articulated in a policy statement titled
Canada in the World. These goals
reflected our desire as Canadians to be
active in the world, despite the context
of financial constraint. International development
is at the heart of each of these objectives:
the promotion of prosperity and employment,
the protection of our security within a
stable global framework, and the projection
of Canadian values and culture.
With regard to the first objective
the promotion of prosperity and employment,
Canadians want a foreign policy that will
contribute to job creation and prosperity
at home. Fostering a prosperous international
climate is important in doing so because
populations whose economies are strong are
much more likely to be customers for our
services and goods. We all need to think
of economic development in terms of trade
and not simply aid. Canada is seeking to
bring developing economies more firmly into
the international system. We are pursuing
this on several fronts: through the World
Trade Organization, NAFTA, and APEC.
In 1998, leaders of governments throughout
the Americas met in Santiago to continue
efforts toward a Free Trade Area of the
Americas by 2005. Encouraging trade does
not mean eliminating aid altogether. The
case for aid in the severely indebted low-income
countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa,
is irrefutable. Canada has been active both
in the G-7 and the Paris Club in pushing
for greater debt relief for these countries
so that they can escape the cheerless treadmill
In terms of the second objective
protecting security, I want to emphasize
that security is a prerequisite for growth
and economic development. We live in a global
village, and insecurity in other parts threatens
our own security whether directly or indirectly.
Serious issues which transcend borders include
mass migration, crime, disease, and environment.
Even less calamitous developments abroad
affect our security. For example, poor labour
practices abroad undercut standards at home.
Then there is the traditional issue of aggression
which Canada is prepared to help contain
whether by preventive diplomacy through
organizations such as the UN, or by international
Finally, in terms of the third objective
projecting Canadian values
let me clarify that this does not mean cultural
imperialism. What it means is the recognition
that many values Canadians hold as fundamental
can contribute to international security
and well being. Respect for democracy, the
rule of law, human rights, open markets
and the natural environment all are
better promoted in our own country by promotion
abroad. As noted in Canada in the World,
"Canada is not an island able to resist
a world community that devalues beliefs
central to our identity."
So far I have argued that there are a number
of excellent reasons for Canadians to continue
development assistance, but let me mention
a final reason which is probably the most
important our humanity. On purely
altruistic grounds, let me make this point.
Around the world close to a billion people
still suffer from hunger and malnourishment.
Every day, about 40,000 persons die from
hunger-related causes. Children are, of
course, the most affected, and the UN estimates
that 33,000 children die from poverty-related
diseases every day. Thats roughly
the entire population of Grande Prairie
or Alberta perishing each day. Tolerance
of such tragedy reflects badly on our humanity.
General Issues in
Connection with Development
Now that I have talked about the importance
of staying involved in International Development
and our governments commitment to
the international community, let me emphasize
some political, economic, environmental,
and social trends currently affecting the
so-called developing world.
The informal economy, for instance, has
always existed around the world, but its
importance as a safety net for the poorest
has grown dramatically in the past decade
or so. Walk through the congested downtown
of any major city in the so-called developing
world, and you will see thousands of people
of all ages selling everything from tropical
birds to tacos, and from used clothing to
scrap metal. Unfortunately, many eke out
a living through activities that may be
unregulated, semi-legal, or completely criminal.
How can nations harness their marginalized
informal sector and tap into the enterprising
spirit of the individual behind it? How
can the day-to-day existence of millions
of very poor entrepreneurs develop into
One major difference between the informal
economy and successful micro-enterprise
obviously is access to credit. Access to
credit is often what entrepreneurs need
to transform their tiny enterprises into
viable occupations. Other factors include
skills, access to markets, and the overcoming
of obstacles associated with the lifestyle
of poverty. Conventional credit arrangements
do not lend themselves to micro-entrepreneurship.
Lenders are reluctant to lend to the poorest
of the poor because such borrowers lack
collateral. Microcredit, as an alternative
to conventional lending practices, has provided
enough success stories to dispel scepticism.
Although it alone will never eliminate an
informal sector, microcredit offers some
hope. Ive visited a number of successful
microcredit projects in Africa, Latin America,
and the Caribbean. They come in many forms--some
rural and others urban, some large, some
small. The most successful projects are
those where participants feel a sense of
ownership in what they have accomplished.
Another important development, which I
touched on briefly earlier, is free trade.
As mentioned, free trade agreements are
breaking out everywhere in the hemisphere,
and there is widespread consensus to move
forward toward a free trade area of the
Americas by the year 2005. One of the biggest
challenges we face is the current lack of
fast-track authority for the U.S Administration
to negotiate the FTAA. Another is persuading
the general public that freer trade is a
winning proposition. Canadas efforts
on this are about more than trade. At Santiago,
we have committed to address improving education
and training, eradicating poverty and building
democratic institutions. The FTAA process
has already borne fruit. It has spurred
regional talks, and barriers between the
nations of the Americas are breaking down.
Yet another important issue is the fight
against drugs. Substance abuse is a grievous
problem affecting Canadians and people across
the world, especially young people. After
attempting for decades to combat drugs essentially
on a nation basis, governments have finally
learned that coordinated international efforts
are the only way to reduce this commerce.
I believe that effective strategies that
work against drugs lie not only with those
on the front lines, but with caring individuals
in each and every community across the world.
By curtailing demand at home and abroad,
and by fighting supplies of narcotics we
can effectively destroy the further victimization
Finally, Id like to briefly mention
the issue of environment. I am sure many
of you have heard of the natural disasters
brought on by the recent El Niņo phenomenon.
It has particularly left deep scars throughout
Latin America and certain parts of the Caribbean.
There are numerous homeless people, grieving
families, and the situation of poverty has
intensified. Our government has been actively
involved in providing emergency relief in
many afflicted areas.
I could go on about these matters, but
this is just a quick review of some of the
trends and issues related to the South.
The question now is what role can Canadians
and, especially you as young Canadians,
play. I know that Canada World Youth will
be carrying out programming in various countries
including Brazil, Uruguay, Benin, Cuba,
the Ivory Coast, and Jamaica. These efforts
are commendable and do make a difference.
Many of you travelling abroad have an important
role. You have the opportunity to learn
valuable knowledge of host countries and
to represent Canada abroad.
Skills and Qualities
As I mentioned earlier, you are the future
of leadership. What you can personally contribute
to development is essentially up to you.
I believe that some important skills and
qualities to foster are innovation, diplomacy,
commitment, vision, and understanding. These
skills and qualities can be applied at various
levels of involvement whether at home or
abroad. We need people who can be creative
in problem-solving, who can reach out to
others in kindness, who are dedicated to
working for the benefit of humanity, who
have positive hopes for the future, who
are willing to listen and speak. We can
all work together government, non-governmental
organizations, academia, the private sector
and the general public in order to build
a better Canada and a better world.
for the Future
Preparation for the future starts now.
The first step is to set priorities and
goals then organize how best you can achieve
them. Planning is an important basis for
successful action. The second step is to
continually keep learning. The world is
changing rapidly and one can never know
enough. The third step is to use your individual
strengths and recognize your limitations.
The final step is to reach out. Reach out
to those near and far
those in your
families, those in your communities, those
in our country, those in other parts of
the world. We all are interconnected, and
are bonded by our humanity. Together we
Once again, I thank you for having me here
today. It is truly an honour for me to be
among such a wonderful group of young people.
I wish you a very successful and rich experience
as a Canada World Youth participant.