Via The Globe and Mail: Fearing advocacy, Ottawa rejects HIV/AIDS funding proposals. Excerpt:
Health Canada has turned down funding for an HIV/AIDS charity for fear it might result in advocacy – an indication of a growing tendency within the Conservative government to steer clear of groups pushing causes out of step with its policies.
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, whose mission is to promote the human rights of people living with or at risk of contracting the virus, has received a significant portion of its funding from Ottawa over its 20-year existence.
But in this year’s round of funding applications, 16 of its 20 proposals were rebuffed. Fifteen of those were rejected citing an identical reason: “It was unclear from the details provided in the proposal whether the resource would be used for advocacy purposes, which is ineligible for funding,” the health agency wrote in an April e-mail to the group.
That came as a shock to the network’s executive director, Richard Elliott. But beyond the cuts and layoffs his organization now faces, he worries this policy of declaring anything related to “advocacy” ineligible for funding is broad and confusing, and will spur organizations to avoid any projects that might be seen as objectionable in order to secure the cash they need.
Steve Outhouse, a spokesman for Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, said the department’s policy doesn’t mean advocacy groups can’t get health funding. They just can’t get funding for advocacy-related proposals.
“We don’t believe it’s appropriate to fund groups to go out and lobby both the federal or other levels of government,” he said. “We feel it’s a better use of taxpayer dollars to fund programs that are carrying out the stated policy objectives of government. And we work with those groups that want to do that.”
Minister Aglukkak is a prime candidate for the next Supari Prize, awarded to the politician who most flamboyantly endorses a deeply unsanitary policy. It's named in honour of Indonesia's former health minister, who withheld Indonesian H5N1 samples and kept the world in the dark about new human cases for many months. The prize itself is a sack of hammers, tied with IV tubing and garnished with garlands of red tape.