‘The way in which this case has been handled… has been unfortunate’

by Aaron Wherry

And so the long and twisted tale of how and why an organization called KAIROS came to have an application for government funding rejected has achieved an entirely new level of spectacle with Bev Oda standing before the House this afternoon to simultaneously apologize, accept responsibility and maintain her innocence.

Her statement, delivered shortly after Question Period, below.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight regarding the funding application for KAIROS. I wish to clearly inform the House of the matter and clear up any misunderstandings that exist.

The CIDA officials did forward a document in which they sought approval of the recommendation for funding of the KAIROS proposal, but ultimately the decision to not provide funding was mine, as Minister of International Cooperation…

As you know, Mr. Speaker, departments do make recommendations to ministers and ministers, in carrying out their responsibilities, can agree with those recommendations, or, as is the case with this issue, they can disagree. In this case the process in place requires the department to make recommendations, not to make the decision.

There was no decision taken by the department to provide funding. It was only a recommendation. It was my decision to disagree with the recommendation based on discussions with advisors. I was fully aware that my decision was not aligned with the recommendation of the department.

Mr. Speaker, in the matter before you the opposition has asked you to rule on whether I intentionally or knowingly misled the House by saying it was a department decision.

At no time have I stated that the decision for funding was that of the department. I have repeatedly and clearly stated in response to questions in the House and at committee that the funding decision was mine. The “not” was inserted at my direction.

Given the way the document was formatted, allowing only for concurrence, this was the only way to reflect my decision. If some were led to conclude that my language implied that the department and I were of one mind on this application, then I apologize.

I would, Mr. Speaker, indicate to you that the way in which this case has been handled, including by myself, has been unfortunate.

In conclusion, let me be clear. In the memo the department did make a recommendation to me, as the minister for funding. My decision, as the minister, did not concur with the recommendation of the department. My instructions were to indicate on the document my decision not to provide funding.

I have consistently taken responsibility for that decision. I have consistently informed the House of the government’s aid and effectiveness agenda stating that our government’s policy is to achieve impact, making a sustainable difference in the lives of those it is intended to help, and in no way have I intentionally or knowingly misled the House or the committee.




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