The Democracy Canada Institute: A Blueprint

Thomas S. Axworthy, Leslie Campbell and David Donovan May 1st, 2005

In September 2004, Les Campbell and Thomas S. Axworthy, of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, wrote a concept paper on advancing Canadian democracy abroad. This paper was discussed at an Ottawa roundtable organized by the Institute for Research in Public Policy on September 10th to 11th, 2004. It was decided that the idea had merit and that organizational specifics should be discussed. A second Ottawa consultation took place November 4, 2004, followed by a roundtable on December 7, 2004, hosted by the National Democratic Institute in Washington, D.C. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance hosted a European consultation at IDEA’s headquarters in Stockholm on December 14th and 15th, 2004. Based on these consultations and further work by the Queen’s Centre on issues raised by the concept paper, a blueprint for a new Democracy Canada is advanced. Recommendations include:

  • The mission of Democracy Canada would be to promote and enhance democracy abroad. Democracy Canada would employ a network of experts to provide practical experience in areas of democratic development to their counterparts in partner countries. Democracy Canada’s activities would focus on political party assistance, including training in campaigns, electioneering, and media relations, which would introduce a tool largely absent from Canadian foreign policy. Programs would also include enhancing democratic transparency, election monitoring, promoting civic participation (especially among women), and assisting in the building of democratic institutions.
  • The focus on political party assistance, election preparation, training and mechanics would distinguish the Institute from the legislature mission of the Parliamentary Centre and the civic education mission of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development.
  • The Board would consist of 12-15 members drawn from representatives of parties sitting in Parliament, international partners, and experts in democracy promotion. Replicating a successful aspect of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), one third of Democracy Canada’s board would from international partners. The Board would have the fiduciary responsibility for Democracy Canada.
  • The Institute would also be governed by an advisory Democracy Canada Council consisting of members from the democracy and governance community of Canada. An annual Democracy Canada conference would be held to bring together the Canadian and international democracy assistance community to promote mutual learning, the dissemination of best practices, and to help coordinate Democracy Canada’s future objectives and priorities.
  • The Institute would develop its own programs and staff but also partner with others in the field. The $20 million budget would provide grants to existing organizations to undertake democracy assistance activities in their relative areas of expertise. Democracy Canada would also be allowed to fund proposals for international work submitted by Canada’s political parties, but it would not automatically allocate a portion of its funding through the existing party structure.
  • Democracy Canada’s permanent bureau staff, in addition to program coordination and management, would undertake a research function to gain an understanding of the local context of Democracy Canada’s partner countries. To enhance its effectiveness, Democracy Canada would work with existing Canadian and international organizations such as the IDRC, as well as with organizations within its partner countries to inform its programs.
  • Democracy Canada would coordinate Team Canada Democracy delegations around a key Canadian foreign policy objective. With Democracy Canada, coordinated assistance could be provided to a partner country, including elements of political party assistance provided by the parties, legislative assistance from the Parliamentary Centre, electoral assistance from Elections Canada, and so on. Democracy Canada would maintain the overall focus of the delegation, and would be responsible for democratization programs in the partner country.

Introduction

Our first discussion paper, entitled, “Advancing Democracy Abroad: A Proposal to Create the Democracy Canada Institute” (contained in IRPP Working Paper 2005-02b), asked whether Canada can make a contribution to international democratic capacity building and, if so, how such a contribution would be structured. In the approximately six months since the paper’s release, the Centre for the Study of Democracy has undertaken an extensive consultation exercise to answer these very questions. The results of these consultations are included in this working paper series, as are a list of our final recommendations in the form of a blueprint for the creation of the Democracy Canada Institute. Since the release of our first paper, world events have made the case for Democracy Canada even more pressing. With the outpouring of emotion and response from the Canadian public for world events, including elections in Ukraine and Palestine, and the recent tsunami disaster, it is clearer than ever that Canadians are willing to make a contribution internationally. Moreover, events that occur abroad increasingly have an impact on Canadians. Foreign-born Canadians make up 18% of the country and in cities like Toronto it is more than 40%. Globalization means that today’s world is no longer “them,” it is “us.”

The stunning tsunami tragedy in Southeast Asia and the incredible response of Canadians to the suffering it has caused are so momentous that they should transform the government’s long awaited international policy review. The review – strictly an insider’s exercise with no public input – was intended to be released in the fall of 2004 but bureaucratic inertia has so far prevented it from seeing the light of day. This delay, however, is a blessing because it gives Prime Minister Martin a golden opportunity to seize the day by responding boldly to the Canadian public’s heartfelt desire to connect with and make a difference to the world’s afflicted. Martin has seen first-hand all of the suffering in Sri Lanka and Thailand, but beyond the immediacy of the crisis he should think long term about how Canada can make a difference internationally.

We must consider how the voluntary and generous outpouring of activity around the events in the Ukraine and the tsunami crisis can be turned into an ongoing commitment to helping others. The world has changed but has Ottawa noticed? A test case will be the future of the Canada Corps, an excellent initial Martin idea mired in bureaucracy and small-time thinking. At present, the Canada Corps is a program within CIDA with a relatively limited budget. The Canada Corps should become, instead, an independent agency reporting to Parliament with a mandate to give thousands of Canadians the opportunity to serve.

Democracy Canada would play a specific and essential role in this effort. The participation of Canadian elections monitors in Palestine, as well as the number of Canadians who applied to be elections monitors in Ukraine, demonstrates the desire of Canadians to assist developing democracies abroad. In the future, such initiatives should be coordinated by Democracy Canada, a special institute within the structure of the Canada Corps. We advocate that Canada Corps should be an independent organization reporting to Parliament with both a national division and an international mandate, of which Democracy Canada would be an integral part. Democracy Canada, then, would provide a centrally focused organization to undertake international democratization projects in line with Canadian foreign policy objectives.

Moreover, because Canada lacks a central democracy assistance organization, more often than not, Canadians contribute to other organizations and other countries’ aid and foreign policy objectives. Many Canadian democracy practitioners, therefore, contribute primarily to U.S. or European foreign policy priorities in the democracy field and only tangentially to Canadian interests.

More than sheer desire, Canada has a wealth of knowledge and professional expertise grounded in Canadian values that would make a real and meaningful contribution to democracy assistance initiatives abroad. A Canadian-based democracy institution with its experience in a federal, ethnically diverse, multilateral and bilingual country would be welcomed into the international democracy promotion community and would have a significant impact. In addition, George Bush’s recent inaugural speech has established the promotion of freedom and democracy as a top international foreign policy priority. Democracy Canada would also be able to add a new and important dimension to Canadian foreign policy objectives – a central democracy assistance institute that would reflect Canadian values and deliver programs based on Canadian foreign policy priorities and our middle power status.

Advancing Democracy Abroad: A Summary of the Discussion Paper

In our discussion paper, we argue that determining whether Canada should create a new democracy organization is far more than an academic exercise. We contend that the mandate of the Canada Corps should be more clearly defined (to review the full discussion paper, see IRPP Working Paper 2005-02b). Canada Corps should maintain a focus on international youth volunteerism, but while doing communities some good, the purpose of such an organization would be on the educative, self-transforming experience of the participants themselves. Canada needs a generation of young leaders who have been stretched by an intense personal experience of the diversity of Canada and the wider world, a generation that understands and embraces the notion that they are citizens who are part of a community and a country that demands their participation.

The other mandate mentioned in the initial description of the Canada Corps – transferring knowledge and skills in governance – is a professional, highly complex process. Public administration is a discipline with no easy answers and exceeds the capacity of youth volunteers.

The Canada Corps is one of the strongest ideas advanced by the Martin Government. We believe that like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the United States, the Canada Corps should fund a variety of organizations, of which the proposed Democracy Institute would be one. Therefore, we are proposing two structural changes: the first is that the Canada Corps become an independent body
reporting to and being funded by Parliament, rather than being a program within CIDA, and that to carry out the specialized democracy mission a new entity within the Canada Corps framework be created – Democracy Canada.

We advocate for the creation of a Democracy Canada institute to provide international democracy assistance, as the provision of this assistance calls for a different kind of organization than originally conceived in the Canada Corps mandate. We suggest in the paper that the government establish an independent Democracy Canada Institute, funded by and reporting to Parliament, which would support existing Canadian organizations in the field and work closely with Canadian political parties to use some of their expertise in democratic development abroad. This new institution would fund, coordinate and prioritize Canadian efforts to nurture sustainable democracies abroad.

Over what has been termed the Third Wave of democratization, several international democracy promotion organizations have been created and strengthened, in Europe, North America, and in many new democracies themselves (for a survey of international democracy assistance institutes, please see IRPP Working Paper 2005-02d). Now, beyond the Third Wave, democracy promotion has taken an even more prominent role on the international stage with President Bush launching the most intense and ideological promotion of democracy since Woodrow Wilson. Moreover, demand for international democracy assistance remains high in developing democracies throughout the world. Democracy promotion, therefore, is now one of the most active areas in foreign policy development.

We advocate that Canada make a more substantial commitment to international democracy assistance through the creation of a Democracy Canada Institute. A scan of Canadian institutions involved in democracy promotion abroad has led to two key conclusions. First, it is clear that while there are many Canadian organizations presently involved in democracy assistance in various ways, these organizations often have little understanding of the activities of their peers and colleagues in the field. Secondly, policy coherence requires a driver of coherence. The Democracy Canada Institute would gather and refine information on Canadian experiences and practices for democratic development while enabling relationships and partnerships with the family of democracy promotion groups already in existence in Canada and abroad.

We advocate that Canada make a more substantial commitment to international democracy assistance through the creation of a Democracy Canada Institute. A scan of Canadian institutions involved in democracy promotion abroad has led to two key conclusions. First, it is clear that while there are many Canadian organizations presently involved in democracy assistance in various ways, these organizations often have little understanding of the activities of their peers and colleagues in the field. Secondly, policy coherence requires a driver of coherence. The Democracy Canada Institute would gather and refine information on Canadian experiences and practices for democratic development while enabling relationships and partnerships with the family of democracy promotion groups already in existence in Canada and abroad.

The individual party institute model has never been seriously contemplated in Canada. Canada’s parties, while active within their respective international groupings – the New Democratic Party within the Socialist International, the Liberal Party within the Liberal International, and the Conservative Party within the International Democrat Union – have not embraced the concept of developing internationally focused party foundations of their own.

The government of Canada is a participant in most of the multilateral democracy assistance vehicles, including the OSCE, OAS and IDEA, but Canada’s multilateral democracy assistance endeavours seldom reflect unique Canadian experiences and values. Canada has many fine democracy assistance programs, governmental and non-governmental, but a consensus has emerged that there is a lack of coordination and policy coherence that makes the sum of Canada’s international democracy efforts less than the total of its parts.

The government of Canada is a participant in most of the multilateral democracy assistance vehicles, including the OSCE, OAS and IDEA, but Canada’s multilateral democracy assistance endeavours seldom reflect unique Canadian experiences and values. Canada has many fine democracy assistance programs, governmental and non-governmental, but a consensus has emerged that there is a lack of coordination and policy coherence that makes the sum of Canada’s international democracy efforts less than the total of its parts.

Initial Conceptions for the Democracy Canada Institute

The following recommendations reflect those originally conceived in the Centre’s discussion paper published in September 2004. Since that time, a series of consultations, both in Canada and internationally, have served to build upon and refine the Centre’s initial recommendations. The subsequent recommendations take the shape of a blueprint for a Democracy Canada Institute and are included in the second half of this paper.

Our initial analysis determined that the framework for a Democracy Canada Institute should include the following:

  • The Institute should report to Parliament and the members of its Board should enjoy consensus support by Parliament. Various mechanisms can be explored but the objective is to have an organization supported by all parties;
  • The Institute should not necessarily replace the existing democratic governance projects of
    CIDA and DFAIT, which have their own foreign policy logic, but the Institute would be mandated by Parliament to develop a coherent democratization strategy that would be worthy of the support of Parliament, be implemented by existing actors in the field and engage the active involvement of current and former Members of Parliament. Should the Institute model prove to be a success, however, it could assume responsibility for existing programming;
  • The Institute would fund projects suggested by the existing rich NGO community, and government agencies like Elections Canada, although it could recruit expertise where it does not currently exist. The Institute would also entertain partnerships between Canadian NGOs and agencies and local partners in the target countries. The Institute would reorganize, assist, recruit, co-enable and facilitate existing Canadian expertise, listed in IRPP Working Paper 2005-02c and work with the international institutions listed in IRPP Working Paper 2005-02d;
  • Canadian political parties have expertise that can be useful abroad especially through organizations like Liberal International, Socialist International or the International Democrat Union. The Democracy Canada Institute would work with all parties to encourage them to contribute internationally. A multiparty approach is preferable, but if the parties chose to create independent party foundations, Democracy Canada could work with these vehicles;
  • Part of the important work of the Institute would be to recruit former Members of Parliament, party activists and officials with expertise in the mechanics of elections, civil society or government structure, willing to give their time to work or consult abroad;
  • Based on an assessment of existing organizations, both within Canada and abroad, it is anticipated that the Institute would require an annual appropriation of anywhere between $5 million to $50 million. The National Democratic Institute of the US has a budget of $80 million and most European institutions range from $5 million to $50 million. These funds would be utilized for both the administrative maintenance of the organization and the strategic funding for international grants and programs.

Beyond the Discussion Paper: The Democracy Canada Consultations

Since the release of the Democracy Canada Institute paper, the CSD has undertaken a series of three consultations with representatives from both Canadian and international democracy assistance organizations (a detailed account of the consultation phase is contained in IRPP Working Paper 2005-02e). The ability to conduct an extensive consultation phase has been of particular value to the writing of the blueprint paper.

The CSD received several recommendations based on the experiences of organizations active in the field of democracy promotion in Canada and abroad. In addition to assisting with reassessing our initial recommendations, these consultations served to build on our understanding of the existing models of democracy assistance organizations. The following section will conceptualize the existing models for democracy assistance organizations. This will be followed by the lessons learned and conclusions from the consultation phase.

Models of Democracy Assistance Organizations

There is a significant amount of variety and diversity that characterizes today’s democracy-promoting institutions, which makes condensing such organizations into categories somewhat difficult. However, three broad categories can be determined from existing organizations, with some internal diversity existing within each category.

As noted in the discussion paper, democracy assistance organizations can be placed into three main categories – political party institutes like the German or Swedish party models, international or multilateral organizations like the Stockholm-based International IDEA and national umbrella or multiparty institutions like the NED, the WFD, or Netherlands IMD.Within this categorization, we can also include two sub-categories. One sub-category includes smaller, more research-oriented organizations, affiliated with universities, the best example being the Australian Centre for Democratic Institutions. The second sub-category includes nationally based organizations with a multilateral character, for example organizations with an international board of directors or with international subsidiaries. Examples of this category include the International Foundation for Elections Systems (IFES), which, while Washington-based, has an international board of directors and a European subsidiary. Another example of this type of organization is the Ottawa-based International Forum of Federations.

International/Multilateral Model

Although still in early stages, traditional international “clubs” of nations, often organized along geographical lines or reflecting current or historical trade relationships, are giving way to new alignments – alignments based on shared values rather than shared interests. Examples of this new trend include efforts to start a “democracy caucus” within the United Nations, the governmental and non-governmental forums of the Community of Democracies, the World Movement for Democracy, the newly formed Club of Madrid (a grouping of former heads of state and government), the new democratic activism of the OAS, the increasingly strong democracy focus of the OSCE, the parliamentary forum of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and others.

The field of democracy assistance benefits from mutual learning and international cooperation, thus, it is useful to highlight the multilateral model. For example, International IDEA, of which Canada is a member, is a multilateral organization with member states across all continents that seeks to support sustainable democracy in both new and long-established democratic countries. IDEA uses a comparative approach to analyse trends in democracy assistance, and develops policy options, tools, and guidelines related to political participation, electoral systems, political parties, and post-conflict democracy building. It is important for Canada to be represented in multilateral democracy assistance bodies such as IDEA to learn from and influence the best practices of other organizations; however, the creation of an independent Democracy Canada Institute would promote Canadian democracy assistance priorities in a more direct way.

Political Party Foundation Model

In democracy assistance, the Political Party Foundation model is prominent particularly in Germany, but also notably in Sweden with organizations like the Olof Palme Foundation. The German Party Foundation model, or stiftungen, has served as a model for all party foundations. Widely noted as the ”˜grandfathers’ of international democracy assistance, the German party foundations remain among the most significant players in international democracy assistance today.

To place these organizations in context, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has grown to be the largest democracy assistance organization of its kind after the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (SDP) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Christian Democrat), however, it should be noted that German foundations fund both domestic and international projects. The two German foundations have yearly revenue exceeding 100 million Euros each, while NDI’s revenue for 2005 will exceed $80 million USD. The German foundation most closely focused on democracy and political party assistance is the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNST) with a budget of approximately 45 million Euros.

Political Party Foundations tend to work both domestically and internationally, focusing domestically on areas such as civic and political education and internationally in areas of both development and political assistance. In international democracy assistance projects, the foundations tend to work with ”˜sister’ parties with like-minded political views in partner countries. For example, Sweden’s Olof Palme Foundation (Social Democrat) tends to provide political party assistance to ”˜sister’ parties within Socialist International.

Importantly, political party foundations generally have a significant degree of independence from their affiliated parties, which allows them independence in their day-to-day activities and project selection. The foundations are supported through legislative approaches by the taxpayer, and thus are not dependent on their affiliated parties for finances.

Because of the nature of independent party foundations, coordinated democracy promotion efforts among political parties may be difficult to achieve. Party foundations tend to guard their independence and may be resistant to efforts to install an official coordinating mechanism. This has been the case in the Swedish experience, in which the idea of creating a coordinating mechanism has been met with resistance from the existing party foundations.

Multiparty and Umbrella Model

The organizations that best fit the model of the internationalization of democracy assistance and exemplify the cooperative model of working both with international partners and through indigenous organizations, include the NED, Netherlands IMD, WFD, and the newly created Norwegian Centre for Democracy Support (NDS). NDI can also be included in this comparison. Even though NDI is loosely affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party, its non-partisan approach, scope and scale of work and worldwide reputation make it resemble an umbrella democracy assistance organization more than a party institute.

Multiparty organizations, unlike political party foundations, provide differing degrees of oversight to the democracy assistance projects undertaken by political parties. IMD, for example, employs a proportional representation from the seven major political parties in the Netherlands to undertake program activities while maintaining a permanent, non-partisan bureau staff to manage the Institute’s overall policy approach. The Westminster Foundation is another case of a multiparty organization. WFD is a consortium of British political parties and has a board made up of party members as well as officials from the Foreign Office. The WFD also coordinates the efforts of the political parties in international projects.

Multiparty organizations receive core funding from public sources and maintain an arms-length relationship with government agencies. The multiparty model is particularly intriguing because it incorporates elements of political party independence – in which political parties are free to work with and develop programs with sister parties in partner countries, while at the same time, having the benefit of the broad oversight of an umbrella organization to ensure policy coherence.

The NED is also representative of the umbrella organization model. In the American model, the party foundations have a loose affiliation with the parent party and no direct coordination. The NED staff and board serve as a policy sounding board and provide program and financial accountability. The NED jealously guards its non-governmental status and political independence and has observed a strict policy of treating its core institutes equally. NED programs constitute a balanced mix of efforts to strengthen political processes, support democratic labour movements and promote private enterprise.

Lessons Learned from the Consultation Phase

Following the launch of our paper in September 2004, the CSD, in cooperation with the Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons, organized a roundtable discussion among a group Canadian democracy promotion experts and practitioners. The meeting took place on November 4, 2004. A roundtable discussion on December 7, 2004, hosted by the National Democratic Institute in Washington D.C., followed the Ottawa roundtable. Following the Washington consultation, the CSD, with International IDEA, hosted a European consultation at IDEA’s headquarters in Stockholm on December 14 and 15, 2004. The CSD was interested in learning from the participants based on their experience in the field of democracy promotion and in receiving recommendations based on the ideas outlined in the our discussion paper. For a detailed account of the consultation phase, including a list of participant organizations, see IRPP Working Paper 2005-02e.

The CSD’s consultations, both in Washington and Europe, made it clear that there is significant demand from the international community for Canada to enter the field of democracy promotion in a more substantial way, and specifically, through the creation of a Democracy Canada Institute. The Democracy Canada concept raised questions from Canadian officials and organizations active in field of democracy assistance relating to its possible form and function. These issues will be addressed in the following blueprint section of the paper.

It is recognized internationally that Canada makes a significant contribution to international democracy assistance through Foreign Affairs, CIDA, Elections Canada, IDRC, IMPACS, Rights and Democracy, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, and the Parliamentary Centre, as well as through the other organizations listed in our discussion paper (IRPP Working Paper 2005-02b). However, it is also recognized within the international democracy promotion community that a more concentrated Canadian effort would be both useful and welcomed. Demand is high among developing democracies for increased democracy assistance, and increased participation and competition in the democracy market would benefit these countries. A Democracy Canada Institute would thus be welcomed with open arms from members of the international democracy assistance community.

The Canadian Model: A Blueprint for the Democracy Canada Institute

Based on our initial argument and the recommendations generated from our consultations, we have formulated a blueprint for the creation of a Democracy Canada Institute. Democracy Canada would be an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan organization focused on supporting and strengthening international democratization efforts. Democracy Canada would add an important piece to Canadian foreign policy – an organization focused exclusively on democratization and political assistance.

Based on our initial argument and the recommendations generated from our consultations, we have formulated a blueprint for the creation of a Democracy Canada Institute. Democracy Canada would be an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan organization focused on supporting and strengthening international democratization efforts. Democracy Canada would add an important piece to Canadian foreign policy – an organization focused exclusively on democratization and political assistance.

Democracy Canada’s mission would be to promote and strengthen democracy internationally, working collaboratively with partner countries to assist in the development of democratic political systems and values. Democracy Canada would utilise the broad expertise of Canadian parties and existing governmental and non-governmental organizations to assist developing democracies abroad. In addition, Democracy Canada would maintain its own non-partisna bureay staff of democracy experts, ex-Parliamentarians, and experienced practitioners, and would manage its own democracy assistance programs. Democracy Canada would work to enhance Canadian foreign policy objectives abroad and would provide programs ranging from political party assistance and training, democratic technical expertise, assistance in building democratic institutions, as well as functions such as election monitoring and political education.

There could be various ways to implement a Democracy Canada Institute. It would be possible to create Democracy Canada as its own agency reporting to Parliament; to establish Democracy Canada as an independent NGO; to increase funding and expand the function of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy); or to increase funding and expand the function of an existing Canadian NGO interested in democracy assistance abroad. The Parliamentary Centre, for example, could be such a candidate.

The first two options would allow Democracy Canada significant organizational freedom but runs the risk of under funding – the plight of most NGO’s and worthy organizations supported by the government – with Rights & Democracy being an example. The latter two options would see the function of Democracy Canada assumed by existing organizations. This would avoid linking Democracy Canada to the Canada Corps – an organization still in the midst of defining itself – but, would also lead to a significant, possibly conflicting, shift in the cultures and the activities of these existing organizations.

While there are attractive aspects of the options presented above, we propose that Democracy Canada be established as the democratization division of the Canada Corps, and ultimately be accountable to the Canada Corps. The Canada Corps, in turn, would report through a Minister to Parliament, thus keeping whole our traditional notions of accountability. The original conception of the Canada Corps includes a mandate for the delivery of international assistance in areas of governance and institution building. We contend that to provide form to the initial idea, like the NED in the US, the Canada Corps should be an umbrella organization encompassing an array of institutes with specific functions. Unlike the NED, however, and perhaps more like the German Party Foundations, the Canada Corps would have both national and international mandates, of which Democracy Canada would be an integral part.

Canada Corps: A New Mandate

To give weight to the Canada Corps, it would be funded by, and would report to Parliament. The Canada Corps would have an annual appropriation of $100 million. The $100 million appropriation would be divided between the two halves of Canada Corps, with $50 million being allocated for domestic programs and $50 million for international programs and institutes, with one of which being Democracy Canada.

From the international budget, $20 million would be given to Democracy Canada to undertake democratization and political assistance programs. Democracy Canada would provide grants to existing Canadian organizations to assist in coordinating international democracy assistance efforts. Democracy
Canada would also work closely with political parties to channel their experiences in Canadian politics into democratic development and political assistance initiatives abroad.

It must be noted that Parliamentary appropriations in the range of $100 million per year are not unrealistic. We propose that for the Canada Corps to be truly effective, it should have similar standing to the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), which will receive upwards of $120 million in Parliamentary appropriations for the fiscal year of 2004/2005.1

Accountability Measures/

The Canada Corps would report and be accountable to Parliament, and Democracy Canada would be accountable to the Canada Corps as one of its core institutes. The Canada Corps would be accountable to Parliament through a Minister, and its Act would clearly establish how it would report to Parliament.

Accountability measures would be established in an Act passed by the Parliament of Canada, similar to the Acts that established the IDRC and Rights & Democracy. For example, the IDRC was created by the Parliament of Canada as a public corporation. As stated in the International Development Research Centre Act, its function is: “…to initiate, encourage, support and conduct research into the problems of the developing regions of the world and into the means for applying and adapting scientific, technical and other knowledge to the economic and social advancement of those regions.”2 The IDRC Act sets out the governance structure as: Board of Governors composed of a Chairman, President and not more than 19 other governors that are appointed by the Governor in Council.3

Comparably, Rights & Democracy was created by the Parliament of Canada and established by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (ICRHDD) Act, “…to initiate, encourage and support cooperation between Canada and other countries in the promotion, development and strengthening of democratic and human rights institutions and programs.”4 The ICRHDD Act sets out the governance structure as: a Board of Directors consisting of a Chairman, President and 11 other directors as appointed by the Governor in Council.

Both Acts are similar to the extent that each stipulates that there is a Minister accountable for the actions of each organization and both include provisions for reporting to Parliament. The IDRC and Rights & Democracy submit a report to their respective Ministers relating to the activities of the organizations for each fiscal year, which is then tabled before Parliament. In addition to establishing organizational structure and providing accountability measures, the statutes also set out the capacity and power of the organizations. One notable difference between the Acts of the IDRC and Rights & Democracy is the provision in the IDRC Act, which states that the accounts and financial transactions of the IDRC are to be annually audited by the Auditor General of Canada. Similar provisions could be established for the Canada Corps.

Supporting Volunteerism through the Canada Corps

Supporting the rich array of domestic volunteer organizations in Canada would be a key component of Canada Corps. While we advocate for Democracy Canada to undertake the main role in professional democratization activities, we advocate that Canada Corps should maintain its initial focus on youth volunteerism and civic participation. Engaging younger Canadians in a more significant way, both domestically and internationally, will create more informed, active, and participatory citizens.

Setting the agenda for this component of Canada Corps will not be explicitly discussed in this paper, however, could include the provision of long term funding for national youth volunteer organizations such as Katimavik, as well as other important voluntary institutions. Similarly, the international component of Canada Corps could set out long term funding to assist organizations such as Canada World Youth and the World University Service of Canada to promote youth volunteerism abroad. Canada Corps could also develop a volunteer program focused on providing Aboriginal youth with the opportunity to work on programs abroad.The focus of the Canada Corps should be to give young people a meaningful community development experience in the transition from school to work. A healthy Canada is a Canada that volunteers. While these programs benefit communities, the main objective is to offer young people a transformational educational experience, one in which they acquire the knowledge, skills and values necessary to become active global citizens. Canada needs its young leaders of today and tomorrow to have a deep personal experience of and respect for the diversity of Canada and the cultures of the world, the skills to participate effectively in the workplace and a deeply-rooted commitment to contributing to the well-being of their community.Providing Canada Corps with a solid funding base would allow it to coordinate the existing field of voluntary service organizations, youth-based or otherwise, as well as establish new priorities in this field.

Democracy Canada: Form and Function

Unlike international youth volunteerism, which would ultimately be a rewarding transformative experience for younger Canadians, democratization efforts are immensely complex and require professional expertise. Establishing Democracy Canada, then, would be an integral part of the international mandate of the Canada Corps. Based on our analysis of existing organizations in the Canadian democracy assistance community, it is clear that no single organization focuses exclusively on political assistance or democratization. Many organizations have elements of these, but none could be described as an institution exclusively focused on the provision of democracy assistance internationally. Specifically, Canada lacks an institution comparable to the Westminster Foundation for Democracy in Britain or the National Endowment for Democracy in the United States.Since the mission of Democracy Canada would be on election monitoring, party assistance, and political education, this would not conflict with, for example, the legislative role of the Parliamentary Centre or the civic education funds of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development.Our international consultations made it clear that the democracy assistance community would see the creation of Democracy Canada as a very worthwhile initiative. The ”˜Canadian Model’ for a Democracy Canada Institute combines elements of both the European and the US experiences. As a late arrival to the international democracy promotion community, Canada has the benefit of gaining knowledge of best practices from existing members of this community.

Based on comparable budgets of European democracy assistance organizations (please see IRPP Working Paper 2005-02d), we recommend that Democracy Canada receive an annual appropriation of $20 million. Institutions such as the Olof Palme Foundation, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy operate within this budget range and each achieves success on the ground in their various spheres. Additionally, with funding at this level, these organizations are able to supply a diversity of programs and provide assistance to developing democracies worldwide. A core budget of $20 million would be a permanent annual appropriation, however, additional rapid response allocations could be made for unforeseen events, such as the recent election in Ukraine. Democracy Canada would also seek additional funding internationally, both from public and private sources.

These funds would be utilized for both the administrative maintenance of the organization and the strategic funding for international grants and programs. Unlike in the European tradition of democracy assistance, Canada does not have a history of strong and independent political party foundations. Thus, creating a system of party foundations or a multiparty institute would be difficult to achieve at this time. Democracy Canada, therefore, would function as an independent institute, similar in form and function to the National Democratic Institute or the International Republican Institute. Democracy Canada would be non-partisan and would manage its own programs and select its own projects through a Board of Directors and permanent bureau staff. While Democracy Canada would not expressly incorporate political party foundations into its structure, it would, however, consider and encourage applications from parties for funding to undertake programs if they so chose. Political parties would also have a role on the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors would consist of a body of approximately 12 to 15 members, derived from representatives of the parties, international partners, and from experts and professionals in the field of democracy promotion. One third of the Board would consist of party representatives to be appointed by the leader of each party (the parties themselves could determine how their Board member would be selected). The Board would allow for a representative from each Canadian party so long as that party had enough popular support to secure public funding and had at least one member in the House of Commons.

The Board would also replicate a successful element of the IDRC’s Board structure. A principal lesson learned from our consultations is the necessity to learn from partner countries and to have a firm contextual grasp of their situations. So, we recommend that one third of Democracy Canada’s board consist of its international partners, thus allowing direct feedback and assessment of Democracy Canada’s success on the ground. The remaining third of the Board would consist of prominent experts in the field of democracy promotion, incorporating Canadian professionals, ex-Parliamentarians, academics, and democracy assistance experts.

In addition to being accountable to the Board of Directors, Democracy Canada will also be guided by a Democracy Canada Council consisting of members from Canadian organizations interested in democracy promotion as well as members of the international democracy assistance community. The Council would provide ongoing advice; however, an annual Democracy Canada conference would be formed to discuss lessons learned in democracy promotion, to discuss current research in the field, and to establish the overarching priorities for Democracy Canada for the coming year. In short, the Council’s annual conference would serve as a ”˜democracy audit’ for the organization. The knowledge and direction gained from this annual conference would ensure that Democracy Canada would review its programs in accordance with the best and most up-to-date information from the Canadian and international democracy promotion communities.

The Council would also be beneficial for Canadian organizations as a means to provide a degree of coordination to Canada’s democracy assistance field. Existing Canadian organizations would benefit from the opportunity to learn from each other, as well as gain a perspective from the international democracy assistance community to inform their own activities. Democracy Canada, therefore, could be used as a vehicle to provide a greater degree of coordination and shared knowledge between existing Canadian organizations interested in democracy assistance.

Moreover, Democracy Canada would act as a coordinating mechanism for current activities in the field of democracy assistance. While existing Canadian organizations would continue to operate within their own silos, Democracy Canada would add an element of horizontal coordination between them. Democracy Canada would facilitate joint ventures between existing organizations that would benefit from Democracy Canada’s international democracy promotion network. Thus, existing Canadian organizations would be better able to coordinate efforts amongst themselves, but would also have additional opportunities to work with international partners facilitated by Democracy Canada.

Democracy Canada would also encourage Canadian organizations to apply for grants from its $20 million budget to undertake democracy assistance work within their field of expertise. This way, Democracy Canada would benefit from the wealth of experience from existing Canadian organizations and would reduce the risk of duplicating programs and activities.Potentially, the ability to coordinate the democracy assistance field would lead to the creation of Team Canada Democracy delegations. For instance, an international joined-up exercise could take place abroad in line with a Canadian foreign policy objective. With Democracy Canada, coordinated assistance could be provided to a partner country, including elements of political party assistance provided by the parties, legislative assistance from the Parliamentary Centre, electoral assistance from Elections Canada, with contextual research prepared by the IDRC, and so on. Democracy Canada would maintain the overall focus of the delegation, and would be responsible for democratization programs in the partner country.

Conclusion

The Democracy Canada Institute, which should be established as a non-profit, non-governmental organization within Canada Corps, would be endowed with annual funding of $20 million for its own staff and programs and would provide grants to partner institutes and organizations. The Democracy Canada Institute would assist in the coordination of international democratization initiatives among political parties and existing organizations, but by having an exclusive focus on democratization, would not encroach on existing Canadian organizations. /Democracy Canada would provide a new and integral piece to Canadian foreign policy objectives.

Democracy Canada would reinforce the established governance, democracy, human rights and media development community in Canada by providing a more coherent policy structure, a higher Canadian profile abroad and, in some cases, an increased and more predictable source of grant funding.Moreover, the creation of a Democracy Canada Institute would come at an important time in Canada’s conception of our role in the world. The Canada Corps is a strong idea advanced by the Martin government that is still taking shape and Democracy Canada would add a significant function to the Canada Corps’ evolving form. It is clear that Democracy Canada would be both accepted and welcomed by the international democracy promotion community. It is time for the Government of Canada to make democracy assistance a real and meaningful part of its foreign policy, and the creation of a Democracy
Canada Institute would go a long way to achieving this goal.


 

  1. IDRC Annual Report 2003-2004. Link: http://web.idrc.ca/es/ev-66269-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html
  2. International Development Research Centre Act, R.S. 1985, c.I-19 (Link: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/I-19/78979.html)
  3. IDRC has built-in an international dimension to its overall structure. The main thrust of this international dimension can be seen in the membership of the Board of Governors: while the chair and the majority of members of the Board of Governors were to be Canadian, the remaining positions ensured that the perspective and experience of developing countries would be represented.
  4. International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development Act, R.S. 1985, c.54 (Link: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/I-17.3/index.html)