SEARCHING A MODEL FOR A NEW CANADIAN DEMOCRACY PROMOTION AGENCY

Identifier: 
09OTTAWA281

C O N F I D E N T I A L OTTAWA 000281

SIPDIS

STATE FOR DRL, WHA/CAN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2019
TAGS: PREL, PHUM, PGOV, KDEM, CA
SUBJECT: SEARCHING A MODEL FOR A NEW CANADIAN DEMOCRACY
PROMOTION AGENCY

REF: OTTAWA 249

Classified By: PolMinCouns Scott Bellard, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (SBU) Summary: Minister of State for Democratic Reform
Steven Fletcher is examining other models for a new Canadian
democracy promotion agency (reftel), with an intended focus
on aiding like-minded political parties worldwide to help
fill a gap in Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA) democracy programs. Although Canada's plans for the
new agency will likely not emerge clearly until at least fall
2009, its budget should only be in the C$10-20 million range.
End summary.

2. (C) According to Chief of Staff Vijay Chauhan, Minister
of State for Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher is currently
in London meeting British officials and the Westminster
Foundation for Democracy (WFD). He noted that the Canadian
and British multi-party systems share many attributes,
prompting Fletcher to seek out WFD's expertise. He predicted
that the new Canadian agency would end up looking more like
the WFD than the U.S. NDI or IRI models. Separately,
Director of Democratic Governance and Human Rights Patricia
Pena at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Strategic Policy and Planning Branch and Department of
Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) Democracy and
War Economies Division Deputy Director Carol McQueen
confirmed that Fletcher appeared particularly fond of the
model of WFD-funded political parties assisting like-minded
parties. Pena added that CIDA does not currently fund
political party development programs and that a WFD-type
agency would "fill the gap" by complementing CIDA's existing
work.

3. (C) Pena claimed to poloff that "momentum is building"
for Canada's new democracy promotion agency, and that she was
already in regular contact with Privy Council Office staff on
planning for the new agency. Contrary to CIDA's active role
in the design process, DFAIT is finding it difficult even to
obtain information from Fletcher's office, McQueen noted.
Pena predicted that the government would reveal details of
the new agency in the next 3-6 months. McQueen separately
speculated instead that Prime Minister Harper might wait even
longer for the right political moment to make an
announcement, such as the 2010 G8 Summit in Canada.

4. (C) McQueen explained that, following the October 2008
federal election, and in accordance with traditional
practice, Prime Minister Harper gave "mandate letters"
(confidential instructions) to Foreign Minister Lawrence
Cannon and International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda asking
them to support Fletcher's efforts to create the new agency.
McQueen stated that Fletcher still had not met with either
minister to discuss the new agency's creation, however, but
did meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Len Edwards. McQueen
speculated that Cannon and Oda might feel less comfortable
nowadays publicly discussing Canadian democracy promotion for
fear of encroaching on fellow Conservative MP Fletcher's
turf.

5. (C) Pena and McQueen each predicted that the new agency
likely would have a C$10-20 million budget when it comes into
existence. McQueen ventured a guess that the funds would
come from left-over CIDA and DFAIT program money rolled-over
through "sunset" provisions, rather than a new budget
allocation. Pena underscored that this "is a drop in the
Qallocation. Pena underscored that this "is a drop in the
bucket" compared to CIDA's own C$600 million democratic
governance budget, and confirmed that the new agency should
not have any impact on CIDA's budget or existing activities.
Each speculated that a larger National Endowment for
Democracy-size budget in the C$75-100 million range would be
unrealistic in the current economic climate.

Visit Canada,s North American partnership community at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /

BREESE