Archbishop Desmond Tutu Decries KAIROS Funding Cuts

December-16-09

For Immediate Release
December 14, 2009

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Decries KAIROS Funding Cuts

OTTAWA – Legendary human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has decried the Conservative government’s cuts to the faith-based NGO KAIROS as an “unparalleled setback for the poor, vulnerable and disenfranchised.” The Archbishop praised the work of KAIROS in upholding and promoting human rights, and thanked the initiatives of Canadian churches for their role in overcoming apartheid (statement enclosed, see below).

The Archbishop’s statement has offered renewed encouragement to the numerous Liberal MPs who denounced the cuts in the House of Commons after learning of the Conservatives decision.

“Archbishop Tutu’s statement is an unimpeachable endorsement of the invaluable work done by KAIROS in the developing world,” said Glen Pearson MP, Liberal Critic for International Cooperation. “I have travelled extensively in the countries where KAIROS operates and I have seen both the incredible work they do and the heartbreaking need that exists. The Archbishop’s words are not an exaggeration.”

Said John McKay MP: “The Harper government is sending a signal to NGOs that receive CIDA funding that if you dare criticize them or hold them to account, you will be punished. This is flagrantly un-democratic. The decision mocks freedom of speech, and is an insult to the faith communities of Canada that do critical work both at home and abroad.”

Other Liberal MPs who seconded Mr. Pearson’s remarks include Hon. Mauril Bélanger PC, MP, Hon. Scott Brison PC, MP, Hon. Anita Neville PC, MP, Rob Oliphant MP, Mike Savage MP, and Frank Valeriote MP (see individual statements below).

KAIROS represents some of the largest faith communities in the country including the Anglican Church of Canada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Christian Reformed Church, and the United Church of Canada. The organization works to promote human rights and environmental awareness in Canada and overseas in addition to its charitable activities.

Contacts

Glen Pearson, M.P., Official Opposition Critic for International Cooperation
Contact: (613) 992.0805, pearsg@parl.gc.ca

Hon. Mauril Bélanger, P.C., M.P.
Contact : (613) 992.4766, belanm@parl.gc.ca

Hon. Scott Brison, P.C., M.P.
Contact : (613) 995.8231, brisos@parl.gc.ca

Hon. John McKay, P.C., M.P.
Contact: (613) 992.1447, mckayj@parl.gc.ca

Hon. Anita Neville, P.C., M.P.
Contact: (613) 992.9475, nevila@parl.gc.ca

Rob Oliphant, MP
Contact: (613) 992-2855, oliphr@parl.gc.ca

Mike Savage, M.P.
Contact: (613) 995.9378, savagm@parl.gc.ca

Frank Valeriote, M.P.
Contact : (613) 996.4758, valerf@parl.gc.ca

The Archbishop's Statement:

"The Church in Southern Africa is deeply indebted to the churches in Canada for their prayers, ecumenical actions and solidarity in overcoming the scourge of apartheid.  The initiatives of the Canadian churches through KAIROS have inspired continued faithful ecumenical action not only in Africa but around the world to uphold human rights. The world needs more of KAIROS Canada.  It would be an unparalleled setback for the poor, vulnerable and disenfranchised if the voice and work of KAIROS in the global South is muted."  
 
 - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa, December 9, 2009 

Statements from MPs

Hon. Mauril Bélanger PC, MP: “In these times of global difficulty it is not right for this Conservative government to silence KAIROS and other independent NGO’s nor to impose upon the most poor and vulnerable an expenditure cut of such devastating magnitude.”

Hon. John McKay PC, MP: “KAIROS is one of the most respected and important charitable organizations in the country and has received CIDA funding since 1973. This move by the Harper government comes as a great shock. They were incredibly supportive in the effort to pass my private member’s bill C-293 (the Better Aid Bill) in 2008 so I take this news personally.”

Hon. Anita Neville PC, MP: “It is quite distressing that a faith based NGO can have its funding cut on a whim on something that appears to be no more than a politically motivated decision. Across the board this government continues to elicit fear among NGOs about speaking out against the government. We will lose so much outstanding work due to the government’s cuts to KAIROS.”  

Mike Savage MP: “KAIROS is neither the first nor likely the last victim of the Conservative government’s effort to stamp out dissent and punish anyone who may have a different view of the world. Last week it was reported that the finance minister would cut funding to not-for-profit organisations to help pay for his Conservative deficit. The funding cuts to KAIROS are not rooted in any fiscal considerations or the refocusing of resources as suggested by Conservatives, they were made out of pure spite by a government that bit by bit is dismantling the social fabric of Canada”

Frank Valeriote MP: “Archbishop Tutu’s statement speaks to the devastating impact these funding cuts will have on the lives of vulnerable people in developing countries. As a leading Canadian advocate on issues of the environment, corporate social responsibility, poverty and human rights, KAIROS has received funds from successive Liberal and Progressive Conservative Governments for over 35 years to continue its invaluable work at home and overseas. Simply put, Stephen Harper has cut their funding off because KAIROS dared to criticize the Conservative ideology. This government has a well deserved reputation for punishing those who disagree with them, no matter what the cost.”