Friday, December 18, 2009

Crossing lines of decency

For anyone who thought that the cuts to KAIROS, the Canadian ecumenical social justice group that works on international human rights issues, were just a matter of run of the mill cutbacks, think again. Jason Kenney has boldly provided the government's rationale:
...Kenney lumped KAIROS – a Toronto-based ecumenical group that works for social justice abroad – in with what he described as other anti-Semitic organizations.

"We have de-funded organizations, most recently, like KAIROS who are taking a leadership role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign" against Israel, he told the Global Forum for combatting anti-Semitism.
KAIROS is expresssing shock and outrage, understandably, having been so labelled by a Canadian federal minister:
Corkery denied that KAIROS favours a boycott of Israel or advocated divesting funds from Israeli corporations.

"We have taken positions that critique actions of the Israeli government, as have people in many organizations," Corkery said.

"We have raised issues that we think cause suffering among people. But we have never spoken out against the state of Israel or tried to harm Israel."
Kenney's words are in contrast to International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda's who said KAIROS lost its funding due to changed priorities at CIDA. These people need to get their stories straight. Kenney apparently forgot the cover story.

35 years of government funding to this group and suddenly they're being tagged as being anti-Semitic in their work. 35 years of funding and suddenly it appears that they're being relegated to no more than a political football. Needless to say, there are serious questions here about this Conservative rhetoric and what looks to be manipulation of government funding for political purposes. This is not how a responsible, legitimate Canadian government acts.