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Canada Corps was a Canadian government program created to help developing and unstable countries to promote good governance and institution building. The programme was administered by the Canadian International Development Agency. The Minister for International Cooperation was responsible for the agency.
In the October 2004 Speech from the Throne, one element of the Canada Corps mandate highlighted the need to "help young Canadians bring their enthusiasm and energy to the world." Canada Corps determined to create a common identity around Canadian excellence in governance by affiliating with others who deliver existing governance programming as well as developing new and innovative programs of its own.
Canada Corps facilitated Canadians voluntary working together to promote good governance and institution-building in developing countries and fragile states. New and existing programs to send Canadian expertise overseas were combined under one umbrella organization. Canada Corps was designed to mobilize citizens of all backgrounds, together with non-governmental organizations and all levels of government. The intention was that by sharing our expertise in governance, we can apply our skills and ideas in the countries that need them the most.
Canada Corps was built on four goals:
- Mobilization of Canadians to go abroad,
- Public engagement,
- Coherence of governance programming, and
- Expansion of Canada's governance base of knowledge.
All Canada Corps programs focused on governance, an area where Canada has long been regarded as a leader. Good governance is central to any political economy because it deals with the institutions, processes and relationships necessary to moving a society forward. Governance is also increasingly understood to be a central part of sustainable development and poverty reduction.
Programming in governance involved a wide range of activity areas: democracy, elections and parliaments, a fair and impartial judiciary, mechanisms to respect and protect human rights, an effective and transparent public sector, and a stable and reliable security system to protect people and resolve conflict fairly and peacefully. Good governance is also an integral component of private-sector development, creating an environment that enables economic growth.
At the provincial and national level, Canada Corps desired to help build on lasting institutions, enabling countries take charge of their own development. At the regional or local level, Canada Corps helped local governments respond better to citizens' needs.
The first mission of the programme was to send a delegation of approximately 500 Canadians as election observers to the December 26 2004 Ukrainian presidential election. Since then, they have served as international observers in a number of other nations, notably the February 2006 Presidential Elections in Haiti and the January 2006 Palestinian Parliamentary Elections.
To maximize the sharing of ideas and the long-term effectiveness of Canada's work overseas, Canada Corps also combined the maturity and experience of a wide variety of experts with the enthusiasm and new perspectives of younger Canadians.
The Canada Corps was geared towards young professionals, youth and in general younger Canadians, while drawing on experienced experts in the specific fields.
In October 2006, Canada's newly elected Conservative government replaced Canada Corps with the new Office for Democratic Governance (ODG). Subsequently, various programs were cut and others restructured. The ODG took over most Canada Corps responsibilities for supporting CIDA programming in the following pillars of democratic governance:
- Human Rights
- Accountable Public Institutions
- Freedom and Democracy
- Rule of Law
The ODG was dissolved shortly thereafter.
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