Doctored documents call into question the integrity of the entire decision-making processes within the Department of International Cooperation.
Ottawa (16 Feb. 2011) Minister of International Cooperation, Bev Oda, now admits that she ordered the word "NOT" to be inserted into a funding document which resulted in KAIROS, an ecumenical non-profit organization that works closely with global partners on human rights and ecological justice initiatives, losing its funding.
Despite appearances before a parliamentary committee and persistent questioning in the House of Commons, the Minister denied any responsibility for the altered document. This new admission clearly shows that Minister Oda was directly responsible for overruling the recommendation from Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) approving KAIROS' funding, despite her previous assertions.
CIDA president Margaret Biggs stated, during an appearance before the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs committee, that it wasn’t there when she signed it, just three days before KAIROS was told its application had been rejected.
Parliamentary House speaker, Peter Milliken, on Friday, February 11, 2011 called the Minister of International Cooperation, Bev Oda’s handling of the KAIROS file "very troubling.”
Milliken wrote in his decision, “Any reasonable person confronted with what appears to have transpired would necessarily be extremely concerned, if not shocked, and might well begin to doubt the integrity of certain decision-making processes…. In particular, the senior CIDA officials concerned must be deeply disturbed by the doctored document they have been made to appear to have signed.”
KAIROS has been funded by CIDA since 1973. In fact, the KAIROS-CIDA 2006-2009 program received a positive audit report and an excellent evaluation.
The rejected 2009-2013 program proposal was created by working closely with CIDA staff and yet it stalled for months on the desk of the Minister. On November 30, 2009 CIDA informed KAIROS that it would not receive funding. What we know now is that CIDA in fact approved the funding proposal with a recommendation for additional funds.
It seems very clear that Minister Oda ignored the recommendations of her own department and, for political reasons, axed funding. This act fits perfectly with the record of the Harper government silencing voices that oppose his domestic and international policies. KAIROS has challenged Harper on indigenous rights, women's rights and international performance on climate change, to name a few.
In light of the misleading, doctored documents, Members of Parliament on the Foreign Affairs committee voted in favour of sending a report to the Speaker of the House of Commons asking him to consider whether Ms. Oda breached the rules of Parliament. Many MPs are calling for the Minister's resignation.
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