When she shut down the 35-year relationship between the ecumenical group KAIROS and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 2009, it seemed that Conservative minister Bev Oda had lost her tongue. It was left to a faceless bureaucrat to call KAIROS and tell them their human rights projects in some of the world’s most troubled countries no longer fit CIDA’s criteria. When Oda was questioned about this in the House of Commons, she had nothing to say and sat there mutely while other (male) cabinet ministers tried to parry the blows. But Oda has plenty to say these days, including a recent lengthy interview with the Ottawa Citizen, in which she speaks with great enthusiasm about CIDA’s new support for pilot projects abroad with Canadian mining companies and select NGOs. Continue reading CIDA, Barrick Gold, new partners in development?
I was interviewed about my book Pulpit and Politics by two CBC Radio hosts in early January 2012. Michael Enright, host of CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition talked with former MP Bill Blaikie and me on New Year’s Day. Then on January 7, Wojtek Gwiazda, host of the Radio Canada International’s Masala Canada, interviewed me on a program that is heard in many countries. Click here for an audio file of The Sunday Edition interview, and here for the Radio Canada International heard on Masala Canada.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) have been present since the 1980s in some of the world’s most troubled locations, including Iraq, Colombia, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as well as on a dozen first Nations in Canada and the United States. Members of CPT teams either stand between opposing sides in conflict or accompany the weak in their encounters with the strong. CPT’s stated goal is to “get in the way,” but it is always done in a non-violent and peacemaking manner.
Recently, CPT personnel accompanied six Palestinian “freedom riders” as they boarded Israeli only buses and were later arrested by Israeli soldiers and police. Their story was covered widely by international press and exposed the segregated transportation system of the occupation.
The Scottish writer William Dalrymple says that Syria has been a kind of oasis for Christians in the Middle East. But Syrian Christians are now faced with a painful choice. They can offer support to a brutal dictatorship that, generally, has protected them but has killed 5,000 of its citizens since calls for change and demonstrations began in the spring of 2011. Or Christians can participate in the opposition, which, if it topples the regime, may bring to power a Sunni-led government that could be ultra-conservative and anti-Christian. Continue reading Christians fear regime change in Syria
Writer Christopher Hitchens has died at age died at age 62. One of his most popular and controversial books is God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. In a guest column for this blog, Eric Schiller, a Quaker and a retired University of Ottawa professor, writes about the book and analyzes Hitchens’ attack on organized religion.
I have at times been critical of Canadian faith communities for failing to make the environment a moral priority. But a good number of religious leaders in Canada and elsewhere, weighed in for the climate talks in Durban, South Africa. I will get to Canadians in a moment but will start with the fireworks that arose from an advertisement in the Globe and Mail newspaper on November 30. Continue reading Canadian churches, climate change and Durban
A proposal that the Canadian government establish a Department of Peace has taken a step forward. Alex Atamanenko, the NDP Member of Parliament for BC Southern Interior, tabled a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons on November 30 that could, if adopted, lead to the creation of such a department complete with its own minister at the cabinet table. The bill, which was co-seconded by Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, is a slightly amended version of one introduced into the last parliament by retired NDP MP, Bill Siksay. Continue reading Department of Peace moves forward
I had two recent launches in Saskatchewan for my book Pulpit and Politics. One of the events was at St. Peter’s College in Muenster, where I was a boarding school student for three years in high school and first year university in the 1960s. My friend Father Andrew Britz interviewed me about the book prior to a time of questions and comments from the audience. I have known Father Andrew since my student days and we collaborated on a book in 2010 called Truth to Power, a collection of his best editorials over the more than 20 years he served as editor of the Prairie Messenger newspaper. He was an excellent and courageous journalist and I recommend his book to anyone who thinks and cares about social justice.
There was another event on the following evening at St. Andrew’s College College on the University of Saskatchewn campus in Saskatoon. It was introduced by the college’s principal Lorne Calvert, who is also the former premier of Saskatchewan. I was interviewed regarding the book by Nettie Wiebe, Professor of Church and Society at St. Andrew’s, prior to another lively period of audience discussion.
These were immensely satisfying evenings for me and I thank all of those who attended, despite the cold snap in and around Saskatoon.