Most Canadians want to give more money to poor countries, something their government once again declined to do. However, most Canadians don't want to link aid to the countries' economic interests or use it to increase trade.
From the Globe and Mail writer Campbell Clark gives us the results of the polling.
“For them, it's not about selling stuff. It's not about us getting an advantage. It's about us giving money for development,” said Innovative Research Group pollster Simon MacDougall.
In February, the Conservative government revamped Canada's bilateral aid program, dropping countries from Africa, the world's poorest continent, from the list of major aid recipients, and adding some from the Americas – notably those with whom Canada has recently signed free-trade deals, or started trade talks: Peru, Colombia and the Caribbean. However, the Conservatives have also untied all food aid so that it doesn't have to be bought in Canada. In addition, they've promised that all kinds of aid will be untied by 2012 so none of it has to be purchased through contracts with Canadian companies.
A poll conducted by Innovative Research Group for the Munk Centre for International Studies found that 61 per cent of respondents believe foreign aid does more good than harm.
And half, or 49 per cent, support the idea of more than doubling aid to late prime minister Lester B. Pearson's goal of 0.7 per cent of the size of the Canadian economy – an increase to about $10-billion per year. (Canada now spends about $4.1-billion on aid.)
The poll used an internet panel with 1,383 respondents, a sample size that is typically considered accurate within 2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. However, an internet panel is not a random sample so does not have a statistically valid margin of error.
The poll was conducted as the Munk Centre prepares for a debate on aid today as part of its Munk Debates series.