Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis, the shadow minister for international development, asked an African legislator how Canada could ensure that its development assistance best serves the needs of local communities instead of “bringing in predetermined western priorities.”

Ugandan MP Lucy Akello spoke to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development this Tuesday, denouncing Canadian foreign assistance that is tied to the promotion of abortion.

“It seems no matter how much money will be spent on making abortion look good, our people still see through the money, marketing and mass education,” she said.

Throughout their time in office, the federal Liberals have championed “sexual and reproductive health and rights” (SRHR), a blanket term that promotes widespread access to abortion, contraception, family planning and other birth control methods.

Akello, who represents the Amuru District Women’s Constituency in Northern Uganda, argued that an “overwhelming majority” of Africans believe that abortion is “morally unacceptable.”

“Almost 80% of African countries have some sort of law prohibiting and restricting abortion. And it is predicted on a widely held belief that unborn babies have a right to live and deserve to be protected by law,” she said.

In recent years, the Liberals have taken their advocacy for SRHR to developing nations in Africa as well as parts of Latin America and the Middle East. In 2017, as “part of its strong commitment to gender equality and a feminist lens,” the Liberals pledged $650 million to fund abortion overseas. 

Such projects are seconded by the United Nations, whose 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development suggests abortion as a means for women’s empowerment and emancipation.

Akello condemned funding tied to abortion as a type of “colonization,” where Western countries impose their views on nations in the developing world.

“Africa has a long history of colonization, just like Canada– of people, foreign governments, foreign-led organizations telling us what is good for us or what our priorities should be.”

In the face of a widespread pro-life majority in Africa, Akello recommended that the Canadian government spend more resources keeping “the girl child at school as opposed to giving them contraceptives.”

“I also recommend that you respect Uganda as a sovereignty,” she said.