Yesterday, Andrew Scheer declared that he would cut Canada's foreign aid budget to fund his tax cuts. Canada has not been very generous to foreign countries for quite awhile. The Toronto Star editorializes:
When it comes to doing good around the world, Canada talks big and acts... less big.
We pride ourselves at having invented the idea of peacekeeping, but our contribution to keeping the peace has dwindled to almost nothing.
We talk a good game about helping the neediest and promoting progressive values abroad, but among our peers we’re near the back of the pack in spending on foreign aid.
Now along comes Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer with a bold proposal to take a bad situation and make it even worse.
On Tuesday Scheer unveiled his priorities on foreign policy; and they include slashing Canada’s budget for foreign assistance by 25 per cent, or some $1.5 billion.
What Scheer didn’t mention, and what most Canadians don’t realize, is that this country has already let its spending on humanitarian aid fall to record low levels.
Scheer is spouting the Canadian version of Donald Trump's America First gambit. But there are good reasons to offer aid to foreign countries:
The truth is that countries don’t spend on foreign aid only out of the goodness of their hearts; aside from helping needy countries, it also buys influence. Slashing aid, for example, certainly wouldn’t be a plus as Canada argues for a seat on the UN Security Council.
Justin Trudeau didn't increase foreign aid -- as promised. But Andrew Scheer would slash Trudeau's foreign aid budget. And he has declared that he would return to Stephen Harper's policy of using aid to leverage the interests of Canadian business.
Scheer's smile can't hide the fact that he desperately clings to the prime directive of modern conservatism: Selfishness is a virtue.