Monday October 4, 2010

Canadian Bishops’ Agency Goes to Court to Conceal Info on Groups they Fund

Editorial by John-Henry Westen

MONTREAL, October 4, 2010 ( – LifeSiteNews (LSN) has learned that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) has applied to the federal court to block an access to information request from LifeSiteNews.

In April, after D&P refused numerous requests for information from LSN, we paid the required $300 government fee and made the formal application. The request was simply for the names of each D&P partner group and how much in funding each was given this year and the past five years. We did not understand why there was still no response from the government agency four months later.

As a charitable organization, which in addition to donations from Catholics, annually receives approximately $10 million in funding from the federal Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), D&P is subject to such requests.

Last week we were informed by the government that D&P has applied to a federal court to block access to the information requested. A judge must determine if D&P’s application to conceal the information should be permitted.

It is ironic that D&P is now spending Catholic funds on this legal action to block LifeSiteNews’ attempt to overcome their lack of transparency, given that in the past D&P has lectured other organizations about the need for transparency. One D&P report notes: “This is an important topic for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE as its ongoing action campaign focuses on Canadian mining companies and the need for more accountability, transparency and respect human rights (sic) and environmental standards.”

Catholic Register reporter Michael Swan, who was tipped off about the access to information request and the attempt to block it, called LifeSiteNews very shortly after we first learned of the legal action. Swan noted in his September 29 story that D&P claims that they did not know who made the request and were concerned that the information “might lead to kidnappings, assassinations or terrorist attacks.”

Exactly what D&P meant by this bizarre statement is hard to fathom, but it is consistent with some of the other machinations of D&P’s leadership. A recent D&P ‘internal,’ but actually widely-distributed 10-page document, falsely accused LSN and other pro-life organizations of being “part of the far right wing fringe element of North American society.” The document also accused LSN of being “associated with groups and individuals who have resorted to violence to publicize their cause and achieve their objective.”

The attempt to put a stop to a perfectly legitimate access to information request raises a serious question about D&P, namely, what do they have to hide? The Catholic Community has a right to this basic information about exactly where their money is being sent and how much these groups receive.

See all the coverage on D&P here.

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