27 July 2010The United Nations is committed to helping African nations combat hunger and malnutrition as well as enabling the continent to feed itself, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) has pledged. Addressing leaders gathered in Kampala, Uganda, for the African Union summit, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran stressed the many benefits offered by food-based social protection programmes.“When designed right, social protection programmes such as school meals, food-for-education and food-for-work are foundations for not just beating hunger and malnutrition, but also drivers for agricultural development and faster economic growth,” she stated.She said food-based social protection programmes can be one of the largest and most reliable purchasers from smallholder farmers. “They help create community infrastructure such as roads, irrigation, food processing and storage connecting farmers to markets. They help ensure that farmers and others benefit from the food supply chain so food reaches the people who need it most.” Ms. Sheeran highlighted the Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative by which WFP buys surplus from local farmers’ organizations for its aid operations, thereby helping to boost agricultural production and incomes in developing nations.The programme, which is being implemented in 16 African countries, is “transforming” the lives of smallholder families in villages across Africa, she stated. “WFP envisions the day when its emergency operations in Africa will be largely supplied by African farmers. We are gearing programmes to empower people to be food self-sufficient and contribute to the food supply chain.”WFP buys $1 billion of food annually in the developing world, with the largest supplier being Uganda. The agency is also looking to Africa to supply fortified food products, which will build employment opportunities and help end the scourge of malnutrition in the continent, said Ms. Sheeran.Uganda is the third leg on the Executive Director’s current trip to Africa, which also included stops in Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and will take the WFP chief to Rwanda. “In all these places, we hear the same voices of people wanting empowerment to build better lives and to end food insecurity. WFP, in support of the leaders of the African Union, is here to help them do just that.”
Morneau denied any conflicts; Dawson launched a formal examination into the matter.The Conservatives accused him of selling off Morneau Shepell stock in late 2015, a week before his own policy announcement drove the value of the shares down by half a million dollars.An angry Morneau — conscious of the irony of being raked over the coals for selling shares by the same critics who derided him for owning them — railed against the insinuations of insider trading, and threatened to sue anyone who dared make them without the legal shield of parliamentary privilege.A couple of days later, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer demanded Morneau’s resignation — and failing that, urged Trudeau to fire his minister for “demonstrating outrageous disrespect towards Canadians.”Trudeau, however, stands by his man.How long that confidence lasts remains an open question.“It’s a been a calamitous year for Bill Morneau,” said Bill McGuire, editor of the editorial and opinion pages at the Guardian in Charlottetown, P.E.I.“Perhaps a less capable minister would have been fired or tendered a resignation months ago. Yet, he remains in control. He certainly deserves the title as newsmaker of the year.”The Canadian Press The Canadian Press THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS Morneau began attracting national attention as the uproar over his tax proposals grew louder at the end of the summer.He argued the reforms were designed to inject fairness into the tax system for the middle class. The primary goal of the changes, Morneau has insisted, is to target wealthy individuals who have used the incorporation of small businesses to gain an unfair tax advantage.But amid the concerns, Morneau was eventually forced to scale back and even abandon elements of the plan.“It’s been an intense experience. The tax changes, obviously, were met with a really strong reaction from the business community — my sense is that where we ended was in a really good place,” Morneau said in an interview, referring to the revisions.“I’ve learned from this experience that we have to be very good at communicating to Canadians what it is that we’re trying to achieve. Clearly, that’s got to be a critically important lesson that comes out of the discussion and the concerns that Canadians had.”As the tax-proposal story unfolded, questions about the minister’s personal assets began to surface.The federal ethics commissioner fined Morneau $200 for failing to disclose his role as a director in a private corporation that owns a villa in France. Morneau had disclosed his ownership of the villa to Mary Dawson but, thanks to what his office called an administrative oversight, failed to mention the ownership structure itself.Questions then focused on his shares in Morneau Shepell, the large human resources firm he helped build with his father and presided over as executive chairman until his election win in the fall of 2015.Minister of Finance Bill Morneau responds to a question during Question Period OTTAWA — When 2017 dawned, Finance Minister Bill Morneau was presiding over the early stages of an economic resurgence that would lift growth beyond expectations, create jobs at an impressive clip and help shave billions off his projected budgetary deficits.What a difference a year makes.As the holidays loom, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s financial lieutenant is likely licking his wounds after months spent at the centre of several headline-hogging controversies that overshadowed the good economic news.Morneau’s challenges in the second half of 2017 kept him in the news for months, making him an easy choice for the journalists who voted him Canada’s 2017 Business Newsmaker of the Year in the annual poll of the country’s newsrooms by The Canadian Press.He won 50 per cent of the votes in a field of nine candidates that also included his counterpart in foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare and the proverbial thorn in Morneau’s side: the small business owner.Morneau at centre of fierce debate in Commons that leads to Tory MP’s ejectionTories attack Morneau with allegations over 2015 sale of Morneau Shepell sharesUnder fire, Morneau to sell $21M worth of shares, put assets in blind trustMorneau’s toughest stretch began slowly, with a contentious tax-reform plan released quietly in the dead of summer. Over the following weeks, however, a surge of complaints poured in from enraged business owners, doctors, tax experts and even backbenchers within his own Liberal party.Later, the wealthy former businessman was swarmed by ethical questions over how he handled his substantial personal assets after coming into office. More recently, he faced conflict-of-interest allegations that led the federal ethics commissioner to launch a formal examination and the Opposition’s call for his resignation.Morneau has come to symbolize either unaccountable wealth and excess, or the fight against them, said Daniel Tencer, senior business editor of Huffington Post Canada.“Certainly, the opposition in Parliament tried to paint Morneau as being an out-of-touch Liberal elitist — wealthy and trying to hide his own wealth from the public,” Tencer said.“Whether or not that is true, Bill Morneau vehemently disagreed with that portrayal — and yet that image seems to be sticking with him, at least to some extent.”Matt Goerzen, managing editor of the Brandon Sun, said the federal tax proposals erupted into a top concern for his readership. The newspaper received a flood of angry comments and letters, particularly from local businesses and the agricultural sector.“Minister Morneau has been in the eye of that storm as the focus changed from the federal tax changes to Morneau’s personal business interests,” Goerzen wrote.“This ongoing story has eaten up a lot of ink and airtime.”Minister of Finance Bill Morneau listens to a question as he speaks to reporters in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill The criticism intensified when word spread that he hadn’t placed his Morneau Shepell holdings into a blind trust after being named to cabinet — a decision Morneau insisted was framed by Dawson’s own advice.She advised him in 2015 that he did not need to divest the shares or put them in a blind trust because they were indirectly held in a numbered company. Dawson recommended instead that he set up a conflict-of-interest screen to ensure he was not involved in any discussion or decision that could benefit Morneau Shepell.In response to the controversy, Morneau sold off the remainder of his Morneau Shepell shares, which were worth about $21 million. He donated to charity the difference between what the shares were worth at the time of the sale and their value in 2015 when he was first elected — estimated at about $5 million — and promised to place his other assets in a blind trust.“I don’t think that there’s anything that I could have done differently,” Morneau said of the ethics controversy.“I think that what’s important here is that I acknowledged that people did have a perception of the potential for conflict and that perception was important. So, in hindsight I think it was appropriate to follow the commissioner’s advice, which I did, and it was important for me to also deal with the perception issue. I’ve done both of those.“Could I have done it faster? Maybe.”Then came conflict-of-interest allegations over proposed pension reform that was spearheaded by Morneau. Opponents allege the legislation would have brought him personal financial benefit, given his links to Morneau Shepell.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left and finance minister Bill Morneau.