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Conscience Magazine

Canadian Bishops Conference Denounces Canadian Government’s Plan to Commit Development Assistance to Advancement of Sexual and Reproductive Rights

November 16, 2017

In June the Liberal-led Canadian government launched a five-year plan to commit 95 percent of Canada’s foreign development assistance to programs targeting the empowerment of women and girls. As part of this plan, the government announced it would double the amount of funding going to health and reproductive rights. The plan is called the Feminist International Assistance Policy. Canada’s Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau said in describing the vision that to “break the vicious cycle of poverty and violence” we must give women “the opportunities to choose their own future and fully contribute to their community.” The plan has been celebrated by development aid organizations, with Michael Messenger, President and CEO of World Vision Canada saying that “[the plan] will help make the world a better place to live for everyone, everywhere” and describing it as “about basic human rights and basic common sense.” The Canadian bishops’ conference, however, publicly denounced the plan. President of the conference Bishop Douglas Crosby called the policy politically motivated, saying that “political ideology cannot be allowed to dictate foreign policy.” Crosby’s letter criticized the government’s assertion that abortion, sexual and reproductive rights are women’s rights.