In March 2008, I penned an article for Maclean’s giving the Maloney view of where we were at in Afghanistan right after one of my trips. In that piece, I mildly criticized CIDA for dragging its feet on the Highway 4 paving project and asked why a country that could put a railway through the Rockies couldn’t pave 40 km of road. That three-line criticism resulted in a viciously defensive complaint by elements in DFAIT and CIDA to the Privy Council Office and then over to my department, DND. The amount of energy wasted on those three lines was bizarrely disproportionate-and bordered on totalitarian behaviour. NOBODY, it seems, was allowed to criticize CIDA. Nobody.


The origins of this article lay in an argument I had with CIDA personnel in Afghanistan who clearly did not know the history of their own organization. Similarly, the cultural problems that developed between CIDA and the Armed Forces over the war in Afghanistan were not new ones. In the past, CIDA dragged the Armed Forces into politically as well as morally dubious activities around the world. This article was designed to enlighten all participants in the role of CIDA in Canadian national security policy and restore perspective to the situation. There were, apparently, a lot of upset people in CIDA’s public affairs unit. There was a flood of complaints but as they consisted only of ad hominem arguments, they could be discarded as irrelevant. Later on in Kandahar one CIDA member attacked me at the PRT for my allegedly anti-CIDA stance (anybody critical of CIDA must therefore be anti-CIDA? Grow the hell up.)  and attempted to interfere with my activities there.  Note: not long afterwards, CIDA was folded into DFAIT to form Global Affairs Canada.


Originally Published in Policy Options