Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 78

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Foreign Affairs

Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In January 2010, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives of Christian organizations that aim to effect social change through advocacy, education and research programs, was to initiate work on its gender-based violence legal clinic in Congo. The goal of the gender-based violence legal clinic was for women who are currently targeted by different forms of human rights violations, particularly sexual violence. In eastern Congo in 2005, 40,000 women were raped in the Kivu district alone.

Recently, the Minister of International Cooperation announced that the government has cut the funding for this multi-year project that was to begin in January 2010.

How can a project like this one be cut, particularly when the Development Assistance Accountability Act is concerned with the promotion of international human rights standards?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, our government is committed to making Canada’s international systems more focused, efficient and accountable. In the effort to reach this goal, tough decisions must be made.

We focused on 20 countries and have established three priority themes for the Canadian International Development Agency. These themes are food security, children and youth, and economic growth. After completing the due diligence, it was determined that the organization’s project did not meet these priorities.

Senator Jaffer: As Canada’s envoy in the Sudan, I observed the work Kairos undertook with children in the Sudan and in other parts of Africa. How can CIDA justify, at the last minute, cutting Kairos’s project when it was contributing such good work on behalf of all of us?

Senator LeBreton: As I said, honourable senators, tough decisions had to be made. We are not moving away from funding church groups. For example, we are supporting The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, the Catholic Agency for International Aid and Development, the Mennonite Central Committee, the United Church of Canada and World Vision. Only last week, the Minister of International Cooperation announced $30 million for the World Food Programme, which will help feed almost 17 million people in developing nations. In fact, honourable senators, CIDA’s $30 million contribution is in addition to the $185 million that we have provided to the World Food Programme so far in 2009, making Canada one of their strongest partners.