New Canadian democracy assistance agency on the way
New Canadian democracy assistance agency on the way
Friday, November 21,2008 18:40
By Michael Allen

Canada’s new government is formally committed to establishing a “new, non-partisan democracy promotion agency.” Yesterday’s ‘throne speech’ outlining official policy said the initiative would “support the peaceful transition to democracy in repressive countries and help emerging democracies build strong institutions.”

While the proposal reflects a manifesto pledge by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, it enjoys cross-party support. “Both parties are now sort of recognizing this idea that promoting democracy abroad is a necessary and useful foreign policy tool,” said David Donovan, former research director at Queen’s University’s Centre for the Study of Democracy.

“It would have to be on a multi-party basis,” he said. “If it involved going into oppressive regimes, you would have to work with all political parties, which is the model that’s kind of the way it’s going, not sort of picking one kind of political opposition party and supporting that to overthrow a regime.”

The new center is partly inspired by existing democracy assistance foundations, including the UK’s Westminster Foundation and the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy.