CANADA’S reluctance to shoulder a fair share of aid to the world’s “have-not” nations appears to be coming to an end. At a conference in Washington last year, Finance Minister Sharp clearly stated his government’s intention of boosting our aid, by the early 1970s, to the minimum level recommended by the United Nations.
At the same time, there are welcome signs that Ottawa is awakening to the Caribbean as a potential sphere of Canadian interest. We believe there is a strong case for investing a sizable share of our increased aid in the West Indies.
As Nicholas Steed reports in this issue of Maclean’s (see page 11), the newly independent Caribbean islands are facing troubled times. Britain has virtually abdicated her traditional responsibility to the former colonies. Her own fiscal plight makes continued involvement impracticable. This has created a serious vacuum.
Who is to fill it? Certainly not the United States. The new, nationalistic West Indian leaders are acutely aware of the tendency of U.S. marines to follow U.S. business investment in the Caribbean. The Dominican intervention still rankles.
The only alternative — apart from Castroism — is Canada. Throughout the Caribbean we are regarded favorably, even affectionately. Our motives are not suspect, and we share a common language and political tradition.
We could greatly increase our existing aid of $13 million a year to the West Indies without damage to our strong economy. We could lower the barriers against trade and immigration, and lend them teachers, technicians and medical people.
West Indians, as Steed makes clear, do not want our charity. They want trade, immigration outlets and technical help. We suggest the time has come for Canada to answer their hopes.
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