Speech to World Vision

October-28-01

World Vision

 

John McKay, M.P., Scarborough East

October 28, 2001 ,

Thank you.

It seems as if it is m lot in life this weekend to be substituting for a Minister.  On Friday night I stood in for David Kilgour, the Minister of State for Latin America and Africa at the Salt and light Conference just down the street.  Here I am subbing for Maria Minna, the Minister for CIDA.  It appears that I’m everyone’s second choice.  Reminds me of something my wife said to me on our wedding night.

One of the beauties of being the second choice is that you get to say what you want.  So if you don’t mind, I’m just going to scrap the speech I’m supposed to give and talk about something else.

The Government of Canada is under enormous pressure post September 11th to do something about terrorism.  If it was just opposition driven, we could ignore it and take our own sweet time – but it’s not.  There is intense pressure from the public to be doing something.  Last week, I did some television and I was distressed at the willingness of members of the public to trade their hard fought rights and freedoms for the mess of pottage of security.  I suspect that it is an illusion of security in exchange for the reality of diminished rights and freedoms.

Last week I spent the entire week listening to witnesses on Bill C-36, the new anti-terrorism Bill.  The more I listened, the more concerned I became that the activities of World Vision would come under closer government scrutiny as we place a terrorist/security lens on otherwise normal activity.  I started to use World Vision as an example of unintended consequences.  The Bill reads that a “terrorist group” is as follows:

  • an entity that has as one of its purposes or activities facilitating or carrying out any terrorist activity, or

  • a listed entity, and includes an association of such entities.

  • For the purposes of this Part, a terrorist activity is facilitated whether or not

  • the facilitator knows that a particular terrorist activity is facilitated;

  • any particular terrorist activity was foreseen or planned at the time it was facilitated; or

  • any terrorist activity was actually carried out.

That’s a pretty big net.  The example I used was Palestine .   World Vision has a number of projects there.   Little goes on in Palestine without the explicit/implicit involvement of the Hamas/PLO – both of which will likely be listed as terrorist entities.  Will otherwise innocent projects of World Vision be required to prove they did not facilitate a terrorist activity whether or not World Vision know that a terrorist activity was being facilitated?   Far-fetched – sounds crazy – McKay’s gone off the deep end.  May be but than lots of crazy tings are reasonable post September 11th.

Charity Chill – limited resources – here’s a country that is poor and has terrorists.  Here’s one that’s poor and does not.  What’s the choice – what’s the risk – what does counsel advise?

While this is rightly a day of celebration a day of thanksgiving – a day to recognize vision, it is also a new reality.

Let me end by returning to the Minister’s speech. 

Canadians are proud of what our country has done in helping vulnerable people around the world not only when they are struck by natural disasters or caught in violent conflicts, but in providing them tools for long-term sustainable development.   Our support to developing countries is a powerful reflection of Canadian values of tolerance, respect for human rights and of concern for the well being of others.

How ironic that our anti-terrorism Bill may force us to withdraw from helping vulnerable people around the world.  Indeed, how ironic that the very conditions World Vision seeks to relieve:   poverty and ignorance, may well be    by the withdrawal or pulling back of the well intended.

How ironic that one of our first victims of terrorism might well be those entities, which seek to fight terrorism.