Foreign aid in Tanzania is obviously well spent, it has bought the president of Tanzania who is quite unwilling to criticize Barrick for fear aid and investment might be turned off. While Harper's foreign aid announcement is welcome it is in total not the .7 of GDP pledged some time ago. As the Tanzania case shows it is often used to keep countries quiet and pliant.
PM meets with Barrick as Tanzanian strike continues
Nov 27, 2007 04:30 AM
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania–Prime Minister Stephen Harper fanned the flames of controversy yesterday when he used another international trip to meet with officials of Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold.
"We will be discussing obviously general business (and) what the government of Canada can do to assist in building our investments here," he said before the meeting.
The 45-minute private meeting was not on Harper's official agenda for his trip to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala and the one-day side trip to the Tanzanian capital.
Miners at Barrick's Bulyanhulu gold mine have been on strike since last month. They have complained of inequalities in salaries between foreign and local workers, and non-payment of health and risk allowances as well as bonuses to local workers.
Barrick has called the strike illegal and says it will hire new workers to replace about 1,000 miners who continue their strike. The miners say they will challenge the move in court.
"Instead of meeting with representatives of Barrick, a Canadian mining company that has caused conflict in the community, the Prime Minister should be meeting with the people directly touched by the action of this company that has fired unionized workers, totally disregarded the environment and failed to protect worker safety," NDP foreign affairs critic MP Paul Dewar (Ottawa-Centre) told the Toronto Star from Ottawa.
Harper has been accused of putting the interests of Canadian corporations first. During a July trip to Chile he met officials from the company that has been criticized for its environmental and labour practices.
"We always expected our companies to act responsibly within the laws of the land," Harper told reporters yesterday.
A Tanzanian commission has been struck to determine whether Barrick and other extraction companies are paying the country a fair share of the resources they are mining. But President Jakaya Kikwete, whose country depends on foreign aid and investment, was careful not to criticize.
"We are not blaming the mining companies," he said.
Harper reminded reporters, "Canada has contributed a billion dollars in aid to Tanzania since 1961 ... and Canadian mining companies are the largest investors in Tanzania."
Yesterday, Harper pledged $105 million over five years to improve health care for the impoverished in Africa and Asia. At the same time, his own government, according to a finance briefing note obtained by CTV, will not live up to a 2005 all-party agreement to provide 0.7 per cent of GDP to foreign aid by 2015.
Harper stressed his government, however, is doubling aid to Africa.
Called the Initiative to Save a Million Lives, Canada is joining forces with several organizations to provide training for front-line health workers and to deliver affordable health care to communities. The program was previously announced but no money was attached.
"The Canadian-led (program) ... will deliver basic, cost-effective and life-saving health services to mothers and children in countries where the needs are the greatest," said Harper, noting that when fully implemented the initiative will save 500 children's lives every day.
Canada is in partnership with UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and other donor countries.
Harper said the Canadian health aid will be used to train more than 40,000 health workers and provide much-needed treatment for malaria, measles and malnutrition, which the government says is expected to save 200,000 lives in Africa.