TOWARD A CANADIAN DEMOCRACY PROMOTION AGENCY

Identifier: 
09OTTAWA249

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000249

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2019
TAGS: PREL, PHUM, KDEM, CA
SUBJECT: TOWARD A CANADIAN DEMOCRACY PROMOTION AGENCY

REF: A. 08 OTTAWA 1470
B. 07 OTTAWA 1878
C. 08 OTTAWA 593

OTTAWA 00000249 001.3 OF 002

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

1. (C) Summary. The Conservative Party and the Harper
government have championed the creation of a non-partisan
Canadian democracy promotion agency. Details are still few
and may not emerge with any clarity until fall 2009. So far,
the government appears not to have included any new funding
in its 2009 budget, and may anticipate instead drawing on
existing funds at the Department of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade (DFAIT) and/or Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA). The responsible Minister of
State, Stephen Fletcher, hopes to meet with relevant U.S.
officials and NGOs in Washington the week of May 18. Embassy
believes this is an excellent opportunity to enhance our
global partnership with Canada on democracy building. End
summary.

PROMOTING "CANADIAN VALUES"
---------------------------

2. (U) In its 2008 campaign platform and the November 19
"Speech from the Throne" (ref a), the Conservative Party of
Canada and the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper,
respectively, explicitly advocated the creation of a new,
non-partisan democracy promotion agency" to support the
peaceful transition to democracy in repressive countries and
help emerging democracies build strong institutions." In
late 2008, PM Harper entrusted this portfolio to Minister of
State for Democratic Reform Stephen Fletcher, in addition to
his duties focused on Senate reform and seat reallocation in
the House of Commons tied to population shifts.

3. (C) In a meeting with poloff on March 24, Fletcher said
that a framework for the agency would be not be available
until fall 2009, at the earliest. He commented that the
agency would promote "Canadian values," while also
incorporating lessons from the United Kingdom's Westminster
Foundation for Democracy, the USG's NED, NDI, and IRI, as
well as the Netherlands' Institute for Multiparty Democracy
and Norway's Center for Democracy Support. Fletcher
especially praised the model of the Westminster Foundation
for allowing several parties to come together to advance
political party development. He stated that the new agency
would likely try to harness the experience of Canada's
federalist parties (the Conservatives and Liberals, and
perhaps the smaller New Democratic Party) and showcase their
commitment to democratic principles. Fletcher expressed a
hope that the new agency would be able to hire some of the
many Canadians working for democracy promotion NGOs in
Washington.

4. (C) Fletcher noted that no decisions had yet defined the
agency's target countries, but acknowledged that the agency
likely would take into account Canada's Commonwealth and
Francophonie ties. He specifically highlighted Zimbabwe's
need for democracy. He added that he, along with a senior
policy advisor and two civil servants, planned to visit
Washington for two to three days during the week of May 18 to
discuss the establishment of this agency, and welcomed our
offers to be of assistance in seeking appointments with
relevant USG officials.

5. (U) In a February 18 press interview, Fletcher had stated
that the agency would operate globally to help build
"purpose-driven and principled" political parties, but added
Q"purpose-driven and principled" political parties, but added
that the agency would work with all stakeholders, including
support for grassroots organizations, independent media, and
trade unions.

BUT WHAT ABOUT FUNDING?
-----------------------

6. (C) The FY 2009-2010 government budget apparently did not
include a line item for the new democracy promotion agency.
Fletcher declined to discuss the agency's potential sources
of funding. However, DFAIT Democracy and War Economies
Division, Democracy Unit, Deputy Director Carole McQueen
separately told poloff on March 27 that the agency would
likely draw funds from existing DFAIT and CIDA resources.
McQueen noted that DFAIT and CIDA programs with left-over or
unused funds could be rolled-over into the new agency through
"sunset" provisions. McQueen speculated that some democracy

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assistance programs could move entirely from CIDA to the new
agency.

THE ROOTS OF THE AGENCY
-----------------------

7. (U) A July 2007 House of Commons Foreign Affairs and
International Development Committee report entitled
"Advancing Canada's Role in International Support for
Democracy Development" had included 28 recommendations on new
approaches to democracy promotion, most importantly the
creation of a new democracy support foundation (ref b). The
parliamentary committee that drafted the 2007 report
consulted with organizations in Washington, New York, London,
Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo. The Washington
consultations on February 5-6, 2007 included NED, NDI, IRI,
CSIS, Carnegie Endowment, World Bank, OAS, State Department,
and USAID. The government responded to the July 2007
parliamentary report with a November 2007 white paper
entitled "A New Focus on Democracy Support" (ref c), which
formalized the concept of a government-funded but independent
Democracy Council (comprising the International Development
Research Council, Elections Canada, the NGO "Rights and
Democracy," the Parliamentary Center, the Forum of
Federations, and the National Judicial Institute).

A DEMOCRACY ASSISTANCE HUB IN LIMA
----------------------------------

8 (C) DFAIT's McQueen also described to poloff plans in fall
2009 to establish a "democracy hub" in Lima to promote
democratization in the Andes region. According to McQueen,
Canada will send two Canadian diplomats to staff the hub,
which could grow with time to include "spokes" in Quito and
other Posts. The diplomats would be accredited in Peru and
the neighboring states where they would be most engaged, such
as Venezuela. McQueen added that DFAIT had already requested
Treasury Board funding for these positions.

COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) Canada has long been active in democracy/good
governance promotion, and the creation of this new agency
could be a very positive step to advance these efforts
further. Given that Canadian thinking appears still be very
tentative, the interactions with experts in Washington in May
could be highly valuable to both our countries in this global
partnership.

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

BREESE