From KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
The Minister of International Cooperation, Bev Oda, has been telling KAIROS, Parliament and the Canadian people that funding to KAIROS was cut because its work did not fit current Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) priorities of economic growth, food security and children and youth.
On Wednesday, however, a completely different reason was given in a speech by Jason Kenney, Minister of Immigration. Addressing the Global Forum to Counter Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, Minister Kenney described his government’s fights against anti-Semitism and, as an example, said the government had “defunded organizations … like KAIROS for taking a leadership role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign” against Israel.
Minister Kenney’s charge against KAIROS is false. KAIROS did not lead this campaign. In 2007, KAIROS took a public position opposing sanctions and a boycott of Israel.
(A recently released document, Kairos Palestine, 2009: A Moment of Truth, is not a document of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. Kairos is a Greek word meaning “God’s time” and is commonly used by Christian groups.)
A Minister of the Crown says that his government decided, for a highly political reason, to cut funds for a proposal developed in consultation with and approved by CIDA.
Canadians need the truth.
Two points must be made: criticism of Israel does not constitute anti-Semitism; and CIDA was developed to fund international aid and not to serve political agendas.
Minister Kenney’s statement, in a highly charged environment, raises very disturbing questions about the integrity of Canadian development aid decisions. If aid decisions are based on political rumour rather than on due diligence, development criteria and CIDA’s own evaluation process then this is a matter of grave concern for the entire international development sector — and for the Canadian people who pay for this aid.
Many non-governmental organizations have proposals before CIDA that have been on Minister Oda’s desk for months. Others are about to apply for funding. How can they possibly trust this decision-making process in the future?
In the past two weeks, Canadians from across the country have called for the restoration of CIDA funding to KAIROS.
People working for human rights are the true victims of the funding cut to KAIROS. This decision cuts funding for a new legal clinic in the Congo to help women who have been raped in the brutal conflict there. The 5,000 members of the Women’s Popular Organization in Colombia will lose funding for life-saving protection against rampant human rights abuses in their country.
To label KAIROS criticism of Israeli government actions as “anti-Semitic” silences dissent and honours no one. KAIROS has a clear position of support for the legitimate right of the Israeli people to a safe and secure state.
KAIROS asks that its funding be restored.
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