Primate urges government to look at second Kairos proposal

Published February 17, 2011

“it is imperative that Canadians be clearly informed of the processes by which the Minister receives advice from experts in the field,” says Archbishop Fred Hiltz.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has called on the federal government to address the current imbroglio over foreign aid funding with “transparency, courtesy and action.”

Archbishop Hiltz issued a statement following Minister of Cooperation Bev Oda’s recent admission that she had instructed the doctoring of a document in order to reject a funding application made by the ecumenical justice group, Kairos.

“The member churches and ecumenical organizations of Kairos represent an important sector of the Canadian population,” said the primate in a statement. “Since our faith commits us to stand in solidarity and hope with the poor and the oppressed, I issue this threefold call for transparency, courtesy and action by the Government of Canada.”

The Anglican Church of Canada is a member of the Toronto-based Kairos, which advocates for social justice, human rights and peace worldwide. Kairos has been a recipient of grants from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for 35 years.

“We value CIDA’s role in international development, and the space it provides Canadian civil society for effective development of partnerships with life-changing results,” said Archbishop Hiltz. “In a spirit of transparency, not only at this critical moment but also for the future, it is imperative that Canadians be clearly informed of the processes by which the Minister receives advice from experts in the field and of the limits of the Minister’s authority in acting on their counsel.”

He urged the government to look at a second proposal submitted by Kairos in March 2010, which he said is “in accord with current CIDA themes of ‘promoting food security’ and ‘securing the future for children and youth.’ ” The Kairos proposal “will contribute to greater security and well-being for children, youth, women and men in communities around the world,” said Archbishop Hiltz. “…With all Canadians, we expect our Government to act with integrity, compassion and diligence in advancing Canada’s role in building a truly just, healthy and peaceful world.”

The primate also reiterated a request made more than a year ago by member churches and agencies of Kairos to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper “to discuss ways forward.”

On Feb. 7, Oda admitted that she had instructed the word “not” be inserted in a 2009 recommendation by CIDA officials that approved a $7.1 million grant for Kairos.  Last December, Oda told the House of Commons that when she signed the document, it had not contained the word “not.” She said that she did not add the word, nor did she know who did.

Calls for Oda’s resignation have been mounting, not just within the ranks of the Opposition parties in Parliament but from the Canadian public. The prime minister and senior members of the Conservative Party, however, have come to the embattled minister’s defence, saying Oda was merely exercising her responsibility as a minister.

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