Kenney should learn to Google
Errors will happen, in any group and organization, no matter how careful one might wish to be. The ideal policy is to admit errors. We teach this to our children, we expect it of our leaders.
Unfortunately, the federal Conservatives seem not to have learned this basic principle.
In early December, Bev Oda, the minister in charge of the Canadian International Development Agency, announced the Conservatives axed funding (to the tune of $7 million) to a group called KAIROS.
On Dec. 16, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney said the move came because KAIROS was anti-Semitic.
Had Kenney done any research, like, say, a simple Google search - he would have learned that KAIROS is a multi-denominational Christian group doing spectacular work overseas. It helps fund programs addressing sexual violence against women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example. Despite this, on Dec. 18, Kenney further inserted foot into mouth, by reacting in the Toronto Star thusly: "While I disagree with the nature of KAIROS's militant stance toward the Jewish homeland, that is not the reason their request for taxpayer funding was denied."
Kenney apparently confused KAIROS Canada, a charity with a 35-year history of good deeds to its credit, with a small, unrelated Palestinian group. It's a grievous error roughly equivalent to calling a group of Norwegian photo buffs, the Kristiansund Kamera Klubb or KKK, a white supremacist group. (We note that some among KAIROS Canada have called for an end to bloodshed and violence in the Middle East: hardly an anti-Semitic view.)
But neither Kenney nor the Conservative government is admitting the error. Several newspapers report that MPs and ministers are now deferring to low-level officials, who offer a revised explanation: KAIROS's work doesn't meet CIDA guidelines, such as improving human rights and ecological stability.
Of course, this left those working to restore dignity to Congolese rape victims wondering how their work doesn't qualify as strengthening human rights. KAIROS officials (at least, of the Canadian group) have also laid out clear evidence that the funding application clearly met CIDA standards.
It is one thing to make a gross error - as Kenney has done. But to fail to accept responsibility for making an error is another.
A formal apology to KAIROS Canada from Kenney (or better yet, the prime minister) is in order, as is restoration of KAIROS's funding.
And by the way, friendly CIC readers, where is my citizenship application? And why is your name the only one redacted in all our documents???
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