Canadian aid groups told to keep quiet on policy issues


Non-governmental organizations say they're receiving veiled warnings about positions that clash with Ottawa's

Campbell Clark

Ottawa — From Friday's Globe and Mail

Aid groups say the federal government is casting a chill over advocacy work that takes positions on policy or political issues – and one claims a senior Conservative aide warned them against such activities.

An official with a mainstream non-governmental aid group said that Keith Fountain, policy director for International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, gave a verbal warning that the organization's policy positions were under scrutiny: “Be careful about your advocacy.”

The official did not want to be identified out of concern that it might jeopardize funding for the group's aid projects from the Canadian International Development Agency, or CIDA.

That's a concern voiced by some other NGO leaders, who said they have received hints the government dislikes their policy advocacy or criticisms of the government policies, but did not want to be identified.

Most aid organizations, from church-based organizations such as Anglican and Mennonite aid agencies to big agencies such as World Vision, Oxfam and CARE, take public positions on some policy issues, and some organize letter-writing campaigns or publish pamphlets.

The aid groups use CIDA money to finance 75 per cent of specific programs, but don't use it for advocacy.

Some have had veiled warnings about positions that clash with Ottawa's on issues such as climate change, free trade with Colombia, or the Middle East, said Gerry Barr, president of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, an umbrella group.

“NGOs are being positively invited to remain silent on key questions of public policy,” he said.

Cheryl Curtis, executive director of the Anglican Church's Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, said government officials have never warned her organization about public-policy positions, but other aid organizations have reported such messages.

“We've certainly heard that amongst colleagues,” she said, adding: “There clearly is a conversation that's brewing at the government level.”

But the government insists that is not so.

A spokesman for Ms. Oda, Jean-Luc Benoit, did not specifically respond to a question about whether Mr. Fountain had warned an aid agency about its advocacy work. But he said an NGO's funding is evaluated on effectiveness in delivering aid and matching CIDA's aid priorities.

“This is about best use of taxpayers' dollars to help the poor, not about what these organizations do with their own money,” Mr. Benoit said in an e-mail.

The fears among the NGOs have been amplified by the government's move to reject a $7-million funding request from Kairos, an aid organization backed by a coalition of churches.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said publicly that Kairos was de-funded because it supported a boycott campaign against Israel. (Kairos insists it doesn't support a boycott.)

The government later backtracked and said the agency's funding was turned down because it did not meet CIDA's new areas of focus. But Ms. Curtis, who is also chair of Kairos's board of directors, said the feeling that the agency lost funding for political reasons has not gone away.

“Each and every one of us who are members of Kairos feel that keenly,” she said.

Another aid NGO, the left-leaning Montreal-based Alternatives, can't get CIDA to return its calls since the National Post – citing unnamed government sources – reported that the organization's long-standing $2.1-million funding proposal would be rejected because of its political advocacy. Its most recent aid funding ran out last March.

Alternatives produces a newspaper that has published left-wing commentators and, for example, a piece that made a controversial argument for a “united Israel” and against Israel's status as a Jewish state – rather than the internationally endorsed “two-state solution” of Israel existing beside a separate Palestinian state.

“Everything we hear is that Alternatives' advocacy work is the main reason we'll eventually be cut,” said the organization's executive director, Michel Lambert.




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre



There are disturbing number of Government line posts. The conservatives very undemocratic attitudes are designed to stifle any comment that might not meet the liking of the Prime Minister.

Hell, he has his own photographer, perhaps he is also paranoid that the wrong picture just might catch his real body language rather than what he wants us to see.

The stifling of comments contrary to that of the official line extend all the way down the chain in Canadian Power.

One of the very worst, the most disgusting examples of this intimidation comes from "the underbelly of the judiciary of the Ottawa Superior Court of Justice Family Division.

If you ask "any lawyer" in Ottawa, they will tell you, "if they trust you wont reveal their name", that the most vile flagrant examples of abuses of power come from just a few judges.

The worst of the worst is Ontario Superior Court Judge Allan Sheffield, the worst child abuser in Ontario. His partner for the most vile reputation in the judiciary is none other than that Blue Ribbon Liberal "Justice Denis Power".

Justice Denis Power, is the epitome of Male Apartheid, Male Sharia Law. He likes issuing orders striking pleadings, vexatious litigant orders, all to get rid of anyone who dares to describe him for what he is, one of Canada's most notorious child abusers.

Take Peter Roscoe who has not seen his little boy for nearly four years, all thanks to the Paul Bonada of the judiciary who issued a vexatious litigant order against Peter Roscoe to "end the litigation" that is, when his ex wife failed to comply with an order for access, he was prevented from bringing any motion , what so ever by a very vile order of the most dishonourable, Denis Power.

The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned part of that order but the order of Power is so prejudicial, when he even attempts to "respond" to any litigation, he has to deal with the unofficial orders of Justice Denis Power to have him arrested.