Did Canadian Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Anti-Semitic Hate Fest?

February 10th, 2010 at 4:15 pm | 10 Comments |

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FF EXCLUSIVE: A Canadian taxpayer-funded organization – already under fire for financing groups with alleged links to terrorism – may have also contributed financially to the infamous Durban II conference, FrumForum has learned.

The 2009 UN conference on racism, chaired by Libya and vice-chaired by Cuba, gained international notoriety when thirty countries walked out in the middle of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech.  Ahmadinejad had asserted that “racist” Jews had made “an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering.”

The Harper government was the first in the world to announce in advance that it would boycott the conference, with officials at the time expressing their concerns that Durban II would degenerate “into open and divisive expressions of intolerance and anti-Semitism”, as had happened with the first Durban, South Africa conference in 2001.

However, a FrumForum examination of United Nations annual reports show that the Canadian-based organization, Rights and Democracy — which received over $10 million from the Canadian government, or nearly 80% of its revenue — contributed nearly half a million dollars to the UN High Commission on Human Rights over the last several years. One FrumForum source puts the number closer to $700,000, accounting for unreleased 2009 figures. The UNHCHR is the parent organization for the Anti-Discrimination Unit, which organized Durban II in April of 2009.

When reached for comment, the UN High Commission for Human Rights’ Donor and External Relations department said that they could not confirm or deny whether Rights and Democracy funded aspects of Durban II.

However, Jean-Philippe Charlemagne, a spokesman for the department, allowed that it was possible that “their contributions funded activities related to the Anti-Discrimination Unit”, rather than the unit itself.  He continued by laying out the possible route of financing, suggesting that perhaps Rights and Democracy “were able to help finance some NGOs, to help bring them to the [Durban II] conference.”

Follow-up calls to the UNHCHR’s communications office for confirmation and additional details were not returned.

The Rights and Democracy website lists collaboration with NGOs as one of the primary responsibilities of its satellite office in Geneva. Spokesman Charles Vallerand insisted that the group’s board of directors has been briefed each year about the activities of the European office, but declined to elaborate further.

Reached for comment, board chairman Aurel Braun countered that the briefs they received were inadequate: “We would get reports that the Geneva office… ‘cooperated’, ‘communicated’ and ‘helped raised profile’… always vague bureaucratese,” Braun told FrumForum. “None of which was satisfactory, and none of which could give us assurance with any degree of certainty that any of this money was not being filtered, directly or indirectly, into funding Durban II.”

Meanwhile, FrumForum has also discovered that the board’s attempt to audit the group’s finances and investigate its activities have been set back by suspicious actions at the group’s headquarters in Montreal.

The board recently hired Montreal-based Sirco – a firm that specializes in “intelligence and investigation services for businesses” – to secure sensitive data in Montreal and start an investigation into the group’s activities. As had been previously reported, two computers were stolen when the Rights and Democracy office was allegedly robbed during the funeral of the organization’s President, who died of a heart attack just as the original scandal was erupting in late January.

As Sirco staff arrived to begin their work, they also found that a computer belonging to the deputy director of the group’s human resources department had been “wiped clean with a very sophisticated software program,” according to a FrumForum source close to the investigation.

More to come…


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