Letter to the Minister of International Cooperation concerning the Hon. Jason Kenney’s comments on KAIROS‘s position on Israel.
December 22, 2009
The Hon. Bev Oda. M.P., P.C.
Minister of International Cooperation
Canadian International Development Agency
Dear Minister Oda,
I write on behalf of the board of Project Ploughshares, a Canadian ecumenical organization engaged in public policy research on peace and security issues.
On December 8, 2009 I wrote to you on behalf of the Ploughshares board and staff to protest the Government’s abrupt decision to halt more than three decades of partnership between CIDA and KAIROS. The Government’s refusal to support the KAIROS application for funds for international development projects for the next four years effectively ends the successful relationship between KAIROS and many of its international partners.
The board of Project Ploughshares has become aware of the comments attributed to the Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, stating that KAIROS was “defunded” for “taking a leadership role” in boycotting Israel and urging sanctions against it. Mr. Kenney is quoted as stating that the Canadian Government’s elimination of funding for KAIROS is an example of his government’s efforts to combat “anti-Semitism.”
To date, there has been no correction of Mr. Kenney’s comments. We therefore must presume that his speech was accurately reported.
The facts are that KAIROS has not led a campaign against Israel. In 2007, it took a public position opposing sanctions and a boycott of Israel. The Ploughshares board finds the accusation by a minister that KAIROS is anti-Semitic to be both reprehensible and utterly baseless. For its “defunding” to be linked to misrepresentations of KAIROS’s work and to a false charge of anti-Semitism is alarming and outrageous.
The board of Project Ploughshares is profoundly concerned that the Government’s action appears to be based on a partisan political agenda rather than KAIROS’s record as a seasoned, respected international agency with a 35-year partnership with CIDA.
Our board includes appointees from nine major church bodies in Canada (Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, United Church, Christian Reformed and others). Project Ploughshares operates under the auspices of the 22-member Canadian Council of Churches, the most ecumenical church council in the world.
We urge the Government to withdraw the false, defamatory charges against KAIROS. We call upon you to recognize the value of its international work and, above all, to restore its funding to full value.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Jason Kenney, PC, MP, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
Margaret Biggs, CIDA President
The Hon. Gary Goodyear, MP
Peter Braid, MP
Stephen Woodworth, MP
Harold Albrecht, MP
Glen Pearson, MP
John Rafferty, MP
Johanne Deschamps, MP
Mary Corkery, KAIROS
Project Ploughshares sponsoring churches:
The Anglican Church of Canada
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Canadian Unitarian Council
Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Christian Reformed Church in North America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Mennonite Central Committee Canada
The Presbyterian Church in Canada
The United Church of Canada