Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rights & Democracy: Just Shut It Down.

The continuing saga of the troubled Mulroney-era agency, the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development ("Rights and Democracy") . . . continues. The Globe and Mail has now published on-line a copy the long-awaited confidential Deloitte forensic review of Rights and Democracy's transactions.

This is a great mercy, because it means we do not have to rely on the word of the NDP's Paul Dewar that the review was a "witch hunt" that "came up with nothing." If your masochism leaves you so inclined, do read the whole thing. Much of its content suggests a pattern of dodgy transactions and payouts, as well as inattention to reporting procedures, and my own question remains unanswered: What’s the deal with the payments you made not long ago to Donald McCleery, the infiltration-and-surveillance specialist perhaps best known for burning a barn in Quebec back in the 1970s while he was with the RCMP’s notorious and shadowy “G” Section?

Otherwise, it's fairly unremarkable, and we should not be surprised. One of the first things you will read in the Deloitte audit is this: "Our work did not have the objective of detecting errors or fraud that might exist. . . All the facts related in this report are only based on the documents provided to us."

Some witch hunt.

Further: "We did not analyze the effectiveness and the achievement of the objectives of Rights and Democracy's projects." This might explain why it might have come up with nothing, if that were even true, but at best it does leave unknown whether there was anything to come up with in the first place. As for the latest developments in Ottawa, the CBC instructs us to understand that the Rights and Democracy board "spent $400,000 trying to discredit the now-deceased former head of the organization," which will no doubt come as a surprise to the Rights and Democracy board, among others.

It just goes to show that as the saga continues, the hysteria continues with it, and the hyperventilation is neatly summarized by the Toronto Star's account today: "The agency’s pro-Israel, Conservative-appointed board has been accused of transforming it into an ideologically driven body. It was criticized for repudiating small grants to Middle East rights groups it did not like, and firing several managers."

That's close enough to a helpful and factual summary, but only if you keep in mind 1. All the board members are appointed by the federal government. 2. The federal government at the moment happens to be Conservative, a fault that cannot be laid at the feet of the board members. 3. Whether Rights and Democracy's board is "pro-Israel" is both a dubious assertion and immaterial to everything except conspiracy theories involving shadowy Zionists. 4. From the get-go, the antipathy to those Rights and Democracy board members who appear to be insufficiently anti-Israel has been so shrill that it has required slanderous disortions and outright lies to sustain itself, and it has utterly occluded the function and relevance of Rights and Democracy.

Most pertinently: What's all this about grants to "Middle East rights groups"?

According to the Toronto Star's Haroon the Magnificient: "The majority voted 7-6 to repudiate three grants of $10,000 each to B'Tselem (an Israeli NGO critical of human rights violations), Al Haq (in the West Bank) and Al Mazen (in Gaza), approved by Remy Beauregard, the centre's president, who died earlier this month after a stormy board meeting."

While Haroon and his accomplices have been happily dancing on Beauregard's grave, the rest of us will remember: 1. There was only one single paragraph in the 16-page review of Beauregard's performance that refers to the paltry $10,000 discretionary Middle East grants. 2. Rights and Democracy doesn't even have a Middle East program, which should make you wonder why the Elders of Zion would bother assigning their agents to make mischief at Rights and Democracy in the first place. 3. The board decision to repudiate the grants was a unanimous decision, not a 7-6 vote as we have kept hearing. 4. The late Remy Beauregard himself agreed that the approval of the discretionary grants had been a mistake, a case of his administration's failure to properly do its "homework."

These latest eruptions should suggest to any disinterested observer that the best possible outcome of all this would be to put Rights and Democracy out of its misery. The reputations of Rights and Democracy's board members have been trampled in the mob's rush to traduce the Harper government for its allegedly overweening affections for Israel. The Cold War is over. Rights and Democracy is a relic of that era, and it has outlived its usefulness.

This is not to say that Canada should retreat from the cause of advancing human rights and democracy in the world. Happily, there is an alternative. Its projected annual budget would be in the order of $30 - $70 million, far in excess of the roughly $11 million Ottawa has been pouring into R&D every year. The alternative already enjoys broad multi-partisan support in Ottawa (or at least it did until recently; I can't account for what Supreme Leader Harper's line on it is at the moment). The proposal calls for the creation of a Canadian Centre for Advancing Democracy. It is a very good idea.

Ottawa should either get on with it or get out of this business entirely.


Blogger dmurrell said...

Thanks for posting the report advancing the idea of the CCAD -- something the mainstream media censored. And the people on the panel writing up this report one would think are political centrists -- which is why the MSM censored the report.

And thanks for your careful rebuttal of the MSM attacks against the current board.

I wrote about the Rights and Democracy group years ago, before this fight started. My impression was that it was skewed to the orthodox left (not the social democratic left). The organization would highlight certain countries for study. And these countries would invariably be old-styled rightist dictatorships (Myanmar), or non-Muslim African countries (Zimbabwe).

R&D would ignore huge communist countries (China) or small old-styled communist countries (Cuba), or Islamic-based non-democratic states (Saudi Arabia). The internal bias of R&D in the pre-Harper days missed investigating these latter countries. So there was a bias at work.

I take note of the attack against the Harper-appointed board by the large corporate media: the CBC, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. These big media outlets wre comfortable with the old R&D activities (nothing much was ever said or done of note). But the big media quickly attacked the new board, as you note.

I imagine if a new CCAD were formed, it too would be attacked by these three big media outlets. After all, if the CCAD were undertaking its mandate -- advancing democracy -- it would indeed be attacked by the usual sources. The big corporate media no longer support democracy.

2:38 PM  

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