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Minister's lies unfortunate
Regardless of whether the decision to deny funding to the ecumenical aid organization KAIROS came from Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda or the Prime Minister’s office, the victims are the same, says Hans Kratz.
The local organizer for KAIROS said it is poor people in undeveloped parts of the world who are suffering because of the decision to cut about $7 million in government support for the group, regardless of who made it.
“To me, the real people who are suffering are the people in need,” Kratz said. “The unfortunate part of this is that this is money that would have gone to various organizations around the world and would have helped the poor.”
The issue of the funding cut to KAIROS made headlines over the past week after it was learned that Oda admitted to inserting the word ‘not’ in the report from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), turning its call for KAIROS to be funded on its head.
“CIDA did not make that decision,” Kratz said. “I think it’s most likely the Prime Minister’s office made that decision. Later, (Oda) lied about it. That’s the unfortunate part.”
Kratz said the local KAIROS group has not had to cut any of its activities due to the funding crunch, as they focus on local issues, rather than the international scene.
“There are so many things happening in this community that we have our hands full right now,” he said. “We are involved in homelessness in Parksville and Qualicum Beach, organizing World Water Day, and we’re involved with the issues around the pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat. We’ve got enough to do.”
To do that work, he added, the local KAIROS group gets funding from various social justice groups and from local churches. With the issue once again front and centre, Kratz said he hopes the government will do the right thing and reverse its decision.
“If things were to be done fairly, the federal Conservatives could say, well, we did make a mistake and we could proceed with the funding,” Kratz said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen though. Once Harper digs his heels in, that’s it.”
Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney’s office was asked for a comment on the issue, but did not return calls at press time.