Thursday, December 3, 2009

Harper Cuts Funding to Group For Condemning Canada's Tar Sands

Further proof that Stephen Harper and the Reform Conservatives have no plan to seriously fight global arming, is their recent cancellation of funds to a faith-based human rights organization, KAIROS.

Kairos is supposed to represent a person's time with God, and these people show a true religious spirit by protecting the world's citizens.

But Harper's vindictive nature wouldn't see it that way. They dared to cross him, so now must suffer his wrath.

Ottawa starves climate critics of cash on eve of eco-summit
Allan Woods Ottawa Bureau
December 3, 2009

OTTAWA–The federal government, already facing international criticism as a climate change laggard ahead of next week's Copenhagen summit, has cut funding to a Toronto aid group that helps the world's poorest countries cope with the ravages of global warming.

KAIROS, a multi-faith group that has received money from the Canadian International Development Agency for more than three decades, was refused its request for $7.1 million over four years this week. A CIDA official told the organization's director that its programs no longer "fit" with the government agency's priorities, an official with the aid organization said.

The group, which also advocates against human rights violations abroad, received no official or detailed explanation from the government spelling out why its application had been turned down. But a peek at its past activities shows it has lined up on behalf of seven religious denominations against Conservative policies on climate change, overseas mining operations, aboriginal rights, immigration and international trade.

"Many of the issues we deal with are sensitive, from the point of view of the current government," said Mary Corkery, KAIROS's executive director. "There are people who would say all of the issues we deal with are sensitive issues. That's the point. They're issues that are absolutely crucial to people's survival in the south, and people in the north are often contributing in one way, directly or indirectly."

The news from CIDA, delivered in a brief telephone call Monday, comes on the eve of the Copenhagen climate-change summit where one of the key issues to be negotiated is how far rich countries will go in providing financial assistance to help developing nations cope with a warmer planet.

The government says the decision to end the funding is in line with a larger effort to make international assistance more focused and efficient and group it under three themes: food security, children and sustainable economic growth.

"When KAIROS's funding agreement was up for renewal they submitted a new proposal," said Jean-Luc Benoit, a spokesman for International Development Minister Bev Oda. "After completing due diligence it was determined that the organization's project does not meet CIDA's current priorities."

The move seems to mimic previous government decisions to stop or slash funding to programs that let government critics challenge its decisions in court, and to organize and speak out on behalf of Muslims and women.

Earlier this year, KAIROS led a trip to northern Alberta's oil sands to document environmental damage occurring so that multinational firms can extract vast energy stores out of the ground. It has urged MPs to support an opposition bill that would have held Canada to deeper reductions of greenhouse gas emissions than the government was willing to support.

It has also targeted the work of Canadian mining firms operating in Africa and Latin America for their record upholding labour rights and degrading the environment. The Tory government's efforts to force these companies to respect those rights have came up too short for the group, and it said so.

Corkery said its mission is to help improve human rights around the world. The government's new overseas development accountability act makes human rights CIDA's top priority as well, she said.

"You would think that it has to fit."

The $7.1 million for which the group had applied – $1,775,000 a year – works out to about 0.04 per cent of CIDA's annual official development assistance budget, which was $4.73 billion in 2008, according to the Library of Parliament.

KAIROS would have used the money to help resettle people who have lost their homes and livelihoods because of rising sea levels, and to help a legal clinic in the Congo that assists rape victims, among other projects.

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