Stephen Harper’s Kairos Smear Campaign

Among the most offensive character traits of the Harper Government is the indolence of its cynicism. How stupid does the current occupant of 24 Sussex Drive take us to be, and how easily lost does he suppose we will become amidst the transparent undergrowth of non-sequitur, evasion, and the changings of the subject? Quite and very, it would appear.

Mr. Harper’s government has changed the subject twice on the matter of the decision not to renew funding for Kairos. The first concerned Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s baseless and unsubstantiated charge of anti-Semitism against the organization, soon brushed aside to argue instead that the decision reflected the incompatibility of Kairos with the Canadian International Development Agency’s priorities. The second changing of the subject occurred when the alteration of a support letter was dismissed by the Prime Minister in order to focus instead on the irrelevant dialectic of elected officials versus unelected bureaucrats.

The charge of anti-Semitism is a matter of seriousness. It is at best irresponsible to issue it in the absence of sound, and soundly produced, evidence. Criticism of Israel does not count among the indictable offenses, and in any case even on this ground Kenny failed to produce the required explanations. He uttered a smear, in the least words possible to get the thing done, and moved on — rather in the way the Harperites conduct much of their business. The whole thing is so obvious, I feel myself diminished by the act of pointing it out.

The Conservatives do have good reasons not to like Kairos, all of them political reasons. Some years ago I became acquainted with Ed Bianchi, who is the Kairos Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator and in that capacity a vocal supporter of indigenous rights (Imagine!). In necessary consequence of this, he is a critic of the Federal Government. A nuisance, in other words. This alone I think explains the Government’s hostility toward Kairos, which is so vitriolic and personalized that the Government has resorted to unnecessary explanations for its actions. Think about it: they didn’t need to make up insidious charges, nor resort to their other evasions. It was well within the powers of The Minister Responsible to say “No.” It’s this going that little extra further — the weird insinuations and dodges that have attended this issue all along — which is indicative. Who exactly is the politically motivated party in this affair? Kairos, or the Harper Government?

The weight of the evidence appears to me entirely on the latter side of the scale.

Note:  The final paragraph of this article has been edited to remove the claim that Bev Oda engaged in fraud when she directed the funding support letter to be amended (by the insertion of “not”). I agree with Colby Cosh that “It is definitely unwise (nay, foolish) to modify a document after it has been signed without the explicit permission of the other signatories — but in this case we have a “forgery” without even an apparent intended victim.”

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