Anyone who has ever signed an offer to buy or sell a house, lease an apartment, or borrow money knows all parties have to initial any changes to a document. That’s why it’s so stupid, and so despicable, that the Minister of International Development, Bev Oda, is still part of our government. A lying government, as it turns out.
As is usual whenever the Harper government gets caught with tis hand in the cookie jar, all manner of attempts are made to obfuscate (“cover up”) the issue. This time, Harper & Company defend themselves on the grounds that a Minster has the right to make decisions regarding spending in her department.
Exactly. Except that it’s becoming increasingly clear that it wasn’t Bev Oda, but rather someone in the higher ranks of the Tory government — like the Prime Minister, maybe? — who decided to override her signature which approved a $7 million, five-year grant to Kairos, an organization that has done sterling work under the direction of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
In Question period today, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff summed things up nicely:
“We’ve got a prime minister who lets a minister deceive the House of Commons, falsify a document, and instead of reprimanding her or dismissing her, gets up in this House and actually applauds her,”
Here’s what’s happened:
1) CIDA examines the work of Kairos and agrees it’s entitled to further funding. CIDA president Margaret Biggs signs a Minister’s approval and sends it to Bev Oda for her signature.
2) Oda signs the document.
3) There’s blow back from high-ranking Tories who don’t like the fact that Kairos has funded human rights groups in BOTH Israel and Palestine. The grant is cancelled. Immigration minister Jason Kenny, seeking to curry favor while visiting Jerusalam, says in a speech that Kairos lost its funding for “taking a leadership role in the boycott … divestment and sanctions campaign” against Israel. Another example of this government’s craven lust for votes, in this case Jewish votes.
4) Challenged, the Tories say Oh no, politics played no part in this sad chapter. CIDA itself, they say, wanted the grant stopped.
5) It’s then discovered that someone has inserted the word NOT into the document signed by Biggs and Oda, to indicate the grant was not approved. But AFTER THE FACT, according to Ms. Biggs. She says NOT was NOT there when she signed the document. No initials to signify they acknowledge this vital change. I call this legal chicanery and fraud.
6) Hauled before the House Foreign affairs Committee, Minister Oda says she doesn’t know how the NO got there.
7) This week in the House, she admitted she did know, but didn’t explain how the NOT came about, or on whose direction.
8) Today in Question period, Mr. Harper said Minister Oda was clear in what she said before the committee. Clearly misleading, of course.
It is typical of the Harper government that these kinds of issues — like the cancellation of money for Toronto’s Gay Parade, or the decision to cancel the mandatory census short form — blow up into ethical issues. It’s the result of a government behaving unethically.
The Bev Oda saga will continue to work its way through Parliament, where the Opposition is demanding that the cabinet minister be censored for misleading the House. She is likely to become the first cabinet minister in Canadian history to be subject to such a sanction.
But it won’t have any effect on the Mubarak, I mean, the Harper regime.