Policy Brief: Canada at the World Bank and IMF – Watching from the sidelines? - July 2008

In 1944, the Bretton Woods Conference established the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Every year at the end of March, the Minister of Finance tables a “Report on Operations under the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act”. As of 2008, these annual reports provide a comprehensive introduction to the institutions and Canada’s place within them, an overview of Canadian priorities and actions in 2007, and Canadian medium- term priorities looking forward.

Since 1995, the Halifax Initiative Coalition (HI) has produced report cards on these annual reports to Parliament. These report cards drew attention to the perfunctory nature of the reports and the absence of any substantive content with respect to Canadian priorities, policies and positions on the various issues before the Bank and Fund. They evaluate the transparency and accountability of Finance Canada to parliamentarians for Canadian activities at the institutions, and propose a model, based on best practice, for enhancing the report.

To their credit, in 2007, Finance Canada substantially improved both the content and format of its annual reports. Now that the government has disclosed its positions on issues, and its priorities looking forward, HI is finally in a position to critique some of the issues covered in the annual report. This policy brief addresses some of the most important issues covered in the report, most of which have been a traditional focus of our work.

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