Cornwall ON – Law enforcement officials I’ve spoken to say that White Collar crime and fraud are the biggest crimes in Canada. The Harper Government is supposed to be tough on crime although after the Rahim Jaffer incident it has been suggested that your party affiliation could impact the degree of toughness on the type of crime.
Bev Oda, the MP for Durham is under fire for lying about inserting the word “Not” into Parliamentary documents. In this case the $7M funding from CIDA for KAIROS which was not renewed.
Allegedly the word NOT being placed in front of recommended drastically would change the meaning of the document.
The question now is whether the minister did this on her own or at the request of her higher ups in the Harper Government if not Mr. Harper himself.
Ms Oda is also at risk of being found “In contempt” of Parliament which the speaker should be ruling on soon.
In the end it should be interesting to see how fast Mr. Harper tosses his MP under the bus as this would all but eliminate the chance of his government triggering a Spring election; one which if called could change his hoped for results.
It should be even more interesting if this is the trigger for the opposition to push to get an election called for.
There’s an ancient Chinese curse about “Getting what you wish for…” and this might be exactly what happens to our Prime Minister.
We’re hearing from some people on the Hill as well.
Canadian NGOs have every right to expect that the funding process be transparent and accountable.
The treatment of KAIROS, the Canadian Teacher’s Federation and the CCIC by this government has been characterized by manipulation, false accusations and untruths.
In order to restore Canadian’s confidence in how this Conservative government treats groups that serve the poorest of the poor, will she now follow her department’s advice and restore KAIROS’ funding?
“Bev Oda can no longer be trusted by Parliament after admitting that KAIROS funding documents were doctored on her orders,” said Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae. “Likewise, it’s time for Stephen Harper to stop hiding the numbers and come clean with Canadians.”
“Now that Minister Oda has been caught, Canadians are taking notice of Harper’s latest bully tactics,” said Mr. Brison. “He won’t get away with keeping this information secret any longer. It’s time for him to stop intimidating government watchdogs and labelling basic information a ‘cabinet confidence.’”
The Minister for CIDA has admitted she misled a parliamentary committee and doctored a document. In most places, that’s a crime called forgery. Does she really have the credibility to continue in her role? It’s time for the Prime Minister to finally step in and remove her from the Conservative cabinet.
This is not an isolated incident. We have seen arbitrary cuts to the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Match International, CCIC, Alternatives, Planned Parenthood and others. This Minister must go and this latest incident must be investigated
We spoke with Jennifer Henry at KAIROS.
….I’m concerned that 23 Agencies now don’t have stable funding because of the $7M in funding that was not approved…
Ms Henry also talked about the Economical Justice work KAIROS does in countries like The Congo and Columbia. For more info about KAIROS loss of CIDA Funding click HERE to visit their website.
Below is the rejection letter from Minister Oda to KAIROS.
- In 2009 KAIROS submitted a 4-year program proposal to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) on human rights and ecological sustainability.
- On November 30, 2009 KAIROS was informed by CIDA that their 2009-2013 program proposal had been rejected and that KAIROS would no longer receive funding from CIDA.
- On December 16th 2009, in a speech at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenny stated that the government had “defunded organizations … like KAIROS for taking a leadership role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign” against Israel.
- On December 23rd 2009 KAIROS responded to these claims in a press release asserting that Minister Kenney’s charge against them was false. KAIROS did not lead this campaign. In fact in 2007, KAIROS took a public position opposing sanctions and a boycott of Israel.
Order Paper Question (see enclosed)
- On March 8th, 2010 an Order Paper Question was submitted by Liberal MP Glen Pearson asking for an explanation for the cuts to KAIROS.
- In response the Minister for International Cooperation offered the following explanation:
- “Mr. Speaker, with regard to a) the CIDA decision not to continue funding KAIROS was based on the overall assessment of the proposal, not on any single criterion.”
Statements in the House of Commons
- On March 15th, 2010 Jim Abbott, the Parliamentary Secretary for International Cooperation stated that:
“CIDA thoroughly analyzed KAIROS’ program proposal and determined, with regret, that it did not meet the agency’s current priorities”
- On April 23rd, 2010 Jim Abbott, the Parliamentary Secretary for International Cooperation stated:
“The criteria for the funding for KAIROS is the same as the criteria for funding for anyone else applying for such funding. KAIROS did not meet the criteria. It did not get the funding. There was no surprise there.”
- On October 28th, 2010 Bev Oda, The Minister for International Cooperation stated:
Mr. Speaker, our government has been very clear. We have an international aid effectiveness strategy and we are acting on it. We are getting results for people in the developing countries and all projects by CIDA are assessed against our effectiveness standard. After due diligence, it was determined that KAIROS’ proposal did not meet government standards.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee
- On December 9th, 2010 the Minister of International Cooperation and CIDA officials appeared before the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee. During this meeting, Minister Oda was unable to tell the committee who put the “not” in the document which reversed CIDA’s funding recommendation (see enclosed document). Additionally CIDA officials testified that they had in fact recommended KAIROS for funding contrary to the previous statements of the Minister and her Parliamentary Secretary.
(Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee Transcript December 9th, 2010)
Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Madam Minister, you just said that you signed off, you were the one–
Hon. Bev Oda: I sign off on all of the documents.
Hon. John McKay: You were the one who wrote the “not”.
Hon. Bev Oda: I did not say I was the one who wrote the “not“.
Hon. John McKay: Who did, then?
Hon. Bev Oda: I do not know.
Hon. John McKay: You don’t know?
Hon. Bev Oda: I do not know.
Hon. John McKay:
That’s a remarkable statement.
Hon. Bev Oda: I know that the decision ultimately reflects the decision that I would support.
Hon. John McKay: Well then there are only three people who could have written the “not”.
Hon. Bev Oda: That’s not true.
Hon. John McKay: Two of them are sitting at this table. So who wrote it?
Hon. Bev Oda: I cannot say who wrote the “not”. However, I will tell you the ultimate decision reflects the decision of the minister and the government.
Hon. John McKay: Was this “not” put in by some interloper? Is there some override on a minister’s decision?
Hon. Bev Oda: As I clearly said, the decision reflects the decision of the government, the minister.
Hon. John McKay: So there’s a reasonable possibility that you signed off on this, and that someone put a “not” in later.
Hon. Bev Oda: I would tell you that the document reflects the decision that—
Hon. John McKay: It may well, but you just said that you didn’t put the “not” in. I’m assuming your president of CIDA didn’t put the “not” in. There’s only one other signatory who didn’t put the “not” in. So somehow or another, a “not” got put in after possibly all three of you recommended KAIROS’ funding.
Hon. Bev Oda: That’s not true. As I said—
Hon. John McKay: How could it not be true?
Hon. Bev Oda: —the document reflects the decision of the government. I was entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the government’s policies are being followed.
Hon. John McKay: Madam Minister, clearly somebody didn’t get the memo on the priorities because clearly Madam Biggs or the other person to the signatory sent the memo up to you from September through to November. They sent that memo to you, you sat on it for two months, that’s fine. That’s not an issue. The issue is that they didn’t seem to understand what your priorities were. So they didn’t get the memo as to what the priorities were.
If this reflects government priorities, why is it that the president of CIDA doesn’t know what the priorities of the government are?
Hon. Bev Oda: The responsibility of the department is to give their best advice to the minister. The minister then has the discretion to make the ultimate decision. As I’ve indicated, we had discussion with department regarding this file.
Hon. John McKay: Madam Minister—
Hon. Bev Oda: I will tell you I have utmost confidence in the deputy and executive vice-president, and the officers at CIDA. I’m very confident that every time we come to agreement on a final decision, that the document will reflect the decision made. However—
Hon. John McKay: We’re not discussing, Madam Minister.
Hon. Bev Oda: Well I’m trying to follow your thing. It’s like we’re on CSI or an investigative forensic thing—who’s put the “not” in. I’d like to know what your issue is. What is your issue?
Hon. John McKay: Well it’s rather important. We’re talking about $7 million for people who have been in a relationship with the government since 1977, and what you’ve just told this committee is that three people signed off on this memo, recommending a continuation of that relationship, and you tell me afterwards you don’t know who put the “not” in. Does it go somewhere else after it goes—
The Chair: That’s all the time we have. Because we have limited time, I’m going to hold everyone to their time today.
Hon. John McKay: The clear impression left to a reasonable person looking at a document is that you and Mr. Singh and the minister must have recommended against this because the “not” is inserted. I used to practise law in another life. When you’re dealing with $7 million documents there are initials all over the place when there are any interlineations. So there are no initials, there are no signatures, and it appears that somebody tried to make it look as if you were not recommending this grant.
Ms. Margaret Biggs: Well I won’t comment on that, exactly. I’ll just indicate that I did recommend it to the minister in writing. And if I had changed the recommendation on the memo I would have initialled it. So I think it went–
Hon. John McKay: That wouldn’t have been a normal…. You’re an experienced civil servant. You’ve been around Ottawa for years. You have a very excellent reputation, and it appears to me–and I’m sure to others–that your signature was being used to suggest something opposite of what you’d actually signed for.
Ms. Margaret Biggs: Well I wouldn’t necessarily assume that. My discussions with the minister were quite clear. She did, as she indicated, deliberate on it. She knew what my advice was so she was not misled in any way by…. And I don’t know where that “not” came from, but she wasn’t misled in any way. She knew what the recommendation was.
Point of Privilege in the House
- On December 13th, 2010 Liberal MP John McKay raised a Point of Privilege in the House charging the Minister of International Cooperation with contempt for misleading the House:
“We have three statements which are recorded in Hansard, one on October 28, one on April 23 and one on March 15, which directly contradict both the documents obtained through the access to information request and the testimony of Margaret Biggs before the foreign affairs committee. Both show that the minister was informed by the president of CIDA, that CIDA had recommended KAIROS for funding and that it did meet the standards and priorities of CIDA, the government, and yet the minister and her parliamentary secretary misled the House into believing that her officials had decided that KAIROS did not meet the standards and that the funding had been turned down by CIDA.”
- On December 13th, 2010 Liberal MP Frank Valeriote seconded Mr. McKay’s Point of Privilege in the House:
- On December 9, 2010 at the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee meeting Ms. Biggs made clear that the Minister was aware of her and her department’s position. She said QUOTE “my discussions with the Minister were quite clear. She did, as she indicated, deliberate on it. She knew what my advice was so she was not mislead in any way.” This statement by Ms. Biggs must be considered in addition to the fact that KAIROS received a positive audit report and an excellent evaluation and that it was recommended for funding by CIDA’s President and Vice President, all of which facts had to have been known to the Minister.
- On December 13th, 2010 Jim Abbott, the now former Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of International Cooperation responded to the point of privilege by apologizing for misleading the House:
- On March 15, I did make the statement that CIDA thoroughly analyzed KAIROS’ program proposal and determined that it did not meet the agency’s current priorities. For that, I have to apologize to the House. It was an inadvertent mistake on my part. I do apologize. As a person who has been around the House for 17 years, I take that failing on my part very seriously.
- On February 10th, 2011 The Speaker of the House of Commons responded to the Point of Privilege. His limitations as a Speaker prevented him from ruling that the Minister’s actions constituted a breach of privilege without a formal report from committee, however he did make the following damning statement:
“The full body of material gives rise to very troubling questions. 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.”
- On February 14th, 2011 The Minister of International Cooperation responded to the speaker’s ruling:
- “At no time have I stated that the decision for funding was that of the department. I have repeatedly and clearly stated in response to questions in the House and at committee that the funding decision was mine. The “not” was inserted at my direction.”
Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee
- On February 14th, 2011 the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee voted 6-4 to refer this matter to the House as a Point of Privilege.
- On February 16th, 2011 the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee will debate a report containing the details of the case to be tabled in the House of Commons.
What do you think Canada? You can post your comments below.