Regular readers will know that I don’t use an excessive amount of strong language, so please understand I mean it when I say that this is horrifying, particularly in the context of the government’s shameful reaction to revelations as they have unfolded.
Public inquiries have been called for much less, and we need one now.
Regular readers will also know that I’ve never used this blog to call for a minister’s resignation, but I don’t see any way that even Peter MacKay could believe he should continue. His resignation is long overdue. By the end of the day would be too long to take.
KAIROS is a Canadian NGO which, among other things, provides international assistance and does human rights work in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central America. It is internationally recognized and respected and, either directly or through its predecessors, has been receiving federal funding since 1973. On Monday, KAIROS found out via a brief phone call from CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) that their long-standing and effective partnership with the federal government had come to a sudden end. No specific reason was given.
The lack of official explanation from the government has forced others to speculate. News reports point out that some recent activities of church-based KAIROS aren’t exactly great ways to get onto Stephen Harper’s Christmas list:
Later this week, a KAIROS delegation is to travel to the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen to help lobby for an agreement that would include substantial cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
Last May, a KAIROS delegation toured Alberta’s oil sands region to see how massive projects are affecting aboriginal people and to determine if the operations are environmentally sustainable.
The group met separately with officials from the four main federal parties in Ottawa last week and called for greater action on climate change and for a halt to new oil sands projects.
â€œWe basically told our concerns about climate change and we thought it would be important for Canada to be represented [in Copenhagen],â€ Ms. Corkery said.
â€œIn terms of the oil sands, we asked for a halt for new approvals â€“ not to stop anything that is happening, but that there would be a halt to new approvals.â€
Last year, KAIROS published a position paper that questioned the amount of taxes Ottawa allows the oil sands industry to defer on the capital cost of projects.
The KAIROS contract that just expired received a positive audit and excellent CIDA evaluation this year. KAIROS submitted its new program proposal for 2009-2013 to CIDA in March 2009. It went through a lengthy approval process within CIDA up until the Minister’s level and has been waiting for approval from the Minister since July 2009.
Maude Barlow, who points out that KAIROS has a long history of promoting human rights and sustainable environmental policies in developing countries, says “I believe that Kairos is being punished for taking a position on the eve of Copenhagen and on the tar sands. I think this is a declaration that they are not welcoming any criticism. They offended the agenda of the Harper government.”
Whatever the reason, it’s a tragically damaging decision. “KAIROS has a long and rich history of advocacy and has been doing incredible work on behalf of those in need for decades,” says NDP MP John Rafferty. “There is simply no justification for bankrupting such a respected organization whose work should be supported and promoted by our government.”
In my opinion it would be a good use of your time to contact Bev Oda (full contact info, or send her an email) to ask her why this decision was made with such little ceremony (KAIROS Executive Director Mary Corkery writes, “I know of no precedent for the Canadian International Development Agency ending a decades-long funding relationship with a major Canadian organization without notice in writing, with no reason and no transition plan“) and, if you oppose the decision, tell her so. It wouldn’t hurt to write or email your MP as well. The folks at KAIROS would appreciate it if you would CC your correspondence to them as well. Thanks so much.
Back on January 24th I took a screenshot of the Ontario PC party’s website and started a blog post with the title “Dear John Letter.” Their website, at the time, was basically announcing that John Tory was about to return to the legislature. That headline struck me as presumptuous, arrogant, premature, etc, so I thought I’d write an open letter to John Tory asking him to correct it. But then I abandoned the post and discarded the screenshot after deciding it was a bit mean. In a way, I’m now regretting that decision, as it would be fitting to be able to post that image now. On the other hand, I don’t feel much desire to kick someone when they’re down.
Goodbye, John. As I write this all the polls aren’t in yet, but it’s over. Even if he wins now, he has lost.
According to this Toronto immigration lawyer, both Stephen Harper and Bob Rae are making a very “simple” mistake when it comes to the question of if Omar Khadr can return to Canada.
I have never dealt in this space with the right of Canadian citizens to enter Canada. The simple reason for this is that the law on this point is crystal clear and rarely in dispute.
This right is considered a â€œfundamentalâ€ one and so it is entrenched in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which was signed by Queen Elizabeth in 1982.
Our Charter describes this right as follows:
â€œEvery citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.â€
…Pretty simple, huh?
Not when it comes to Omar Khadr.
This fundamental right seems to have somehow been ignored during most of the debate, and some of the rhetoric, that surrounds this Canadian citizenâ€™s controversial set of circumstances.
…Prime Minister Stephen Harper has publicly stated that he will not allow Khadr back here unless the charges against him are dropped for good. Of course, Harper has not explained what legal authority he has to prevent Khadr, a Canadian citizen, from exercising his right to return to Canada.
Even the Canadian opposition has it wrong. Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae suggested that Harper appoint a panel of experts to advise the Canadian government on how to deal with Khadr. Any expert, in my view, would agree that Khadr has a constitutional right to return to Canadian soil. What happens to him after that is a matter of domestic criminal law which is unrelated to his right to enter Canada.
The thousand or so senior judges who together form the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association describe our justice system as follows: â€œWe are said to be ruled by law, not by those who enforce the law or wield government power.â€
President Obamaâ€™s actions have signaled a swift and firm return to the rule of law.
I hope that we will follow not only the American lead but also our own legal tradition.
Pretty serious stuff. Bob, on what grounds do you and the prime minister presume to be able to ignore the Charter?