Bev Oda

Penalty Boxes in Parliament But Not the NHL

First, I'm quite happy that Speaker Peter Milliken has ruled that Bev Oda breached parliamentary privilege rules in her handling of the Kairos funding. Her behaviour, and lack of contrition is deeply troubling. This ruling will send the case to a "parliamentary committee" for further discussion. We'll see how transparent that process is. I'm not holding my breath, but it's nice to see the "Harper Government" knocked down a peg. Second, what's up with the NHL? Seriously, I thought Sidney Crosby's concussion from the hits by David Steckel and Victor Hedman was going to knock some sense into the NHL, but apparently not. Now we have word that the NHL will not hand down a suspension to, nor will they fine Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara for his hit against Canadiens Max Pacioretty, which left the Habs player with a severe concussion and a cracked vertebra.

Regardless of whether anyone actually presses criminal charges in these types of incidents, the fact is that hits to the head, from behind cannot be defended against, and can lead to lifelong injuries. In the recent medical report on former NHL player Bob Probert, it was revealed that he had suffered from a serious degenerative brain disease. And Probert didn't even lose many fights.

I really don't understand this. The evidence clearly suggests that these types of serious concussions can ruin not just a hockey season, but their very ability to enjoy life. Forget about salary caps, or keeping prospective owners from moving teams without the league's approval, what the NHL needs to do is protect the players by sending a clear and unambiguous message: zero tolerance for hits to the head.

The Conservatives and Kairos

In the news today were reports of a "doctored" document, by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which was used to deny over $7 million in funding to KAIROS, an organization dedicated to "respect for the earth and justice for its people". Yes, this is a faith-based organization. Many international aid agencies have a basis in religious faith. There are a number of things which I find troubling about this document. The document, as originally printed, allows the signees to approve federal funding over four years for KAIROS. There is however, an undated, and un-initialed amendment, adding the word "NOT" to the recommendation. I don't know about anyone else, but when I was signing back and forth on offers on my home, we had to initial any amendments to the purchase agreement made by both parties. That was for just little things, like "window coverings in the master bedroom are not included in the sale" kind of thing. Not anything worth $7 million.

KAIROS Defunding by CIDA

When you're dealing with money like that, if there really and truly was a misprint, you shouldn't just be adding stuff in by hand. Get a new copy printed, with the proper amendments. If it's another day or so until the signatures happen, so be it. After all, the signatures on the paper already span over a month apart.

This only adds to the concern that the Conservative government is cutting off aid from groups which it does not agree with. KAIROS has been vocal about Israel's treatment of Palestine, while the Conservative government has been unwavering in their support for Israel.

There are indications that this decision was based on policy. In 2009, the Toronto Star reported Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told some Israelis that KAIROS was cut off due to KAIROS' "leadership role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign" against Israel. In their response, KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery said that "If any group that criticizes an action by the government of Israel is called anti-Semitic by the government of Canada, that's very serious."

Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, said at the time that the defunding was due to changing priorities of the agency, and that KAIROS no longer matched their priorities. With the release of this document, the appearance is that senior officials approved funding, before someone else amended the document to change the meaning.

What I find particularly troubling is that Minister Oda did not answer questions about who altered the document. I'm sorry, but it matters a great deal to know who altered it, and what their motivations were. Was this something done by a senior civil servant, or by an elected official? Who determined that this was what should be done? Did this come down from the Prime Minister's Office? After reading Harperland, I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was yes.