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Funding for Programs

Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, my second question is also for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

I would like to go back to the answer you tabled yesterday on behalf of Minister Monsef regarding a question I asked you about Global Affairs Canada making a grant of $5 million to KAIROS which, in turn, gave a $500,000 grant to Palestinian organization called Wi’am. In her answer, Minister Monsef said:

Global Affairs Canada exercises enhanced due diligence for all international assistance programming in the West Bank and undertakes robust project monitoring to ensure project funds are only used for their intended and approved purpose.

On April 1 of this year, Wi’am gave a tour to some North American students. You can learn about this trip on Wi’am’s Facebook page. There are even some nice pictures. During the tour, we are told that students could learn about the status of women and “their struggle in the Golan.” They were invited to the Syrian border where: “a local gave an impromptu talk on living as a Syrian under occupation.” Even though the talk was impromptu, it was done in a room adorned with two large picture portraits of the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad.

Senator Harder, if I was able to get this information from something as secretive as a Facebook page, what kind of due diligence did Global Affairs do when they determined that Wi’am is aligned with Canada’s interests and objectives? How can the Trudeau government still defend its support to an organization that is obviously more aligned with Syria than with Canada?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again I thank the honourable senator for her question. She will know that the due diligence that our missions and officers of the International Development Assistance Program provide is designed to ensure consistency with Canada’s policy while meeting the real needs of the women that are targeted with this program.

I’m informed by the department that this program is highly prized by our partners in the region and meets the concerns of the immediate needs of the women who benefit from the program.

I will continue to make inquiries if that is what the honourable senator wishes, but I think we should all recognize that helping women and children in need is not something that we should put our backs to.

Senator Frum: The nature of my question is in terms of due diligence. How is it that Global Affairs thinks it can provide due diligence when it gives funds to an organization that participates in certain types of activities? What methods do they use to scrutinize and analyze the way the money is spent?

Senator Harder: I thought I said I would make inquiries in that regard. I would also encourage the senator to follow up with me outside of the chamber so that I can assure her of that information.

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