End Foreign Aid, Help Canadians

October 5th, 2019 | RR

Andrew Scheer is the first federal leader to propose cutting foreign aid by significant amounts—by one quarter to be exact. By promising to cut foreign aid by 25% and freeze funds that go to dictatorships and wealthy nations, Scheer is on the right track. I haven't seen this good of a Conservative proposal since Stephen Harper's GST cut. The foreign aid cut was one of the Conservative Party's most popular proposals, judging by the number of times it was liked and shared on social media. The mainstream media, on the other hand, tried to blunt the proposal's popularity by fact checking Andrew Scheer and calling his cuts to foreign aid “a step in the wrong direction”—go figure. According to journalists, we should continue funnelling hundreds of millions to dictators in Africa, while more families struggle to pay the Liberal carbon tax and while our own veterans fail to get the services they were promised.

The reason Scheer's cut to foreign aid resonated so loudly, particularly with conservatives, is because this has been something Canadians have been talking about and asking for since 2011. Conservatives and libertarians brought up the issue of foreign aid during the 2015 CPC leadership race and questions about why Canada prioritizes foreigners over its own citizens have been circulating since as long as I can remember. Finally, Andrew Scheer was brave enough to tackle the subject and give voters an answer to a long-standing question that has always been thrown at conservatives: how will we fill the gap in revenue created by Conservative tax cuts?

Like clockwork, immediately after any Conservative proposal involving a tax cut, Canada's media starts doing math in a rabid attempt to show Canadians how much money the government will lose. What always follows is a mass panic about cuts to essential services, government salaries, healthcare and various other welfare programs. How will Conservatives pay for their massive tax cuts? By cutting the services every Canadian relies on, the media tells us.

Not this time.

By trimming Canada's foreign aid budget by 25%, Canada would save more than $1.5 Billion annually. That's enough to fill gaps in revenue right across the board and across plenty of services—like, maybe, inside Canada's Ministry of Veterans Affairs, where veterans are being refused prosthetic limbs and basic mental health services. On top of it, ordinary Canadians will have lower energy bills and less money taken off their pay cheques due to Conservative tax cuts. That sounds like a real win for everyone.

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" According to journalists, we should continue funnelling hundreds of millions to dictators in Africa."

As for how much we currently spend on other countries, Canada's foreign aid budget hovers around $6 Billion annually. Much of it, like Andrew Scheer said, goes to dictators in Africa and to wealthier nations that don't need handouts. The Trudeau government alone has already doled out $53M to Venezuela, $840M to Syria, $930M to Africa just to fight AIDS (not including infrastructure “investments”), $119M to Sudan, Yemen and Somalia—the list goes on. Countless millions have also gone into global funds to combat climate change. Canada has been funnelling money out in massive numbers, while services at home continue to decline.

If Andrew Scheer wins, Canada's government will have an extra $800M left kicking around after Conservative tax cuts are deducted from the savings achieved by a 25% cut to foreign aid. That's a heck-load of money to pay down Canada's debt, to reinvest in struggling services and to help downtrodden, low-income Canadians get a few steps ahead. Again, everyone is a winner when it comes to cutting foreign aid. In fact, Andrew Scheer could have gone a lot further—but we should be happy with what we've got so far, which is more than what Trudeau, Singh and May are offering.

As our very own state broadcaster, CBC, suggests—Canada is failing to provide basic healthcare to the country's Northern-most citizens. Children in Nunavut, Northern Ontario and the Northwest Territories are being denied basic services that are often provided to average Canadians. Don't take my word for it, though, watch the CBC's own reporting on the subject here.

Just a few weeks ago, it was reported that the healthcare systems in several provinces, particularly in BC, are struggling to deal with an epidemic of young Canadians being hospitalized for drug-use and overdoses. In 2017, The Guardian reported on our healthcare system's inability to provide affordable prescription drugs. Several major cities, like Vancouver and Toronto, have rapidly increasing homeless populations due to the growing national housing crisis caused by inflation, low supply and a shrinking market. Many of these are problems that left-wing parties, like the Liberals and NDP, would try to solve with higher taxes, but the answer to these kinds of problems has been staring us in the face for almost a century.

The answer isn't unreasonable tax hikes that would hurt most Canadians. The answer is massive cuts to foreign aid.

One day, we can only hope for a Conservative government that would either slash Canada's foreign aid by 90% or eliminate it all together. For now, 25% is a good start. The $6B we spend on enhancing the livelihoods of African dictators and wealthy bureaucrats in other countries would be better spent here, at home. We could use lower wait times for cancer surgeries, more affordable housing for low-income taxpayers, more prosthetic limbs for our veterans, better mental health services for young Canadians and more money in our own pockets to pay for childcare, energy, food and basic everyday necessities.

The whole idea of foreign aid has always been more about geopolitical strategies than about good will. Being a relatively weak and pointless country with very little influence, Canada has no need to “invest” in other countries. If we have been using foreign aid to buy influence, negotiate better trade deals or win the favour of certain world leaders, we need to stop. It hasn't gotten us anywhere. It's time to let Canadians keep their money or reinvest it in their own country. We have veterans, disabled people and families who could use the help, right here, at home.

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