PM defends possible funding for UN group Tories say helps terrorists
Palestinians demonstrate against a gap in funding for UNRWA in Gaza City, on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, February 16, 2016 5:59PM EST
The prime minister responded Tuesday to allegations from the Opposition that the United Nations secretary general has convinced him to restore funding to a UN agency the Conservatives say helps terrorists.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said in question period that Canada should not restore funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency because its schools and hospitals in Gaza were used by Hamas, a terrorist group, to “store rockets and weapons designed to kill Israeli citizens.”
Ambrose also said UNRWA staffers had been "suspended or fired" for allegations they incited "anti-Semitic violence.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit back, saying that his government is looking for ways to support “the good work” of the UN and “we will of course look at all the various things this past government cancelled for political reasons.”
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development Karina Gould later said the government has not yet made a decision on whether to restore funding to UNRWA. She noted that allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, support the agency, which delivers education, social services and health care.
Conservative deputy foreign affairs Peter Kent said Monday that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s visit with Trudeau last week likely included “trolling for new UNRWA funding.”
Kent added to that comment in question period, asking, “Can’t the Liberals find more appropriate ways to deliver humanitarian aid than to hand it to terrorists?”
Gould responded that it is in Canada’s best interests “to look at all options on the table to see how we can best assist those in need in the region.”
Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, meanwhile, accused the Liberals of turning a blind eye to terrorists “benefiting from our aid dollars,” to which Gould responded that humanitarian is provided “is to be provided a neutral, impartial fashion.”
International Co-operation Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau told CTV's Question Period on Sunday that she was considering re-funding UNRWA. "We're evaluating the situation and the decision will be taken shortly,” she said.
The Conservative government cut aid to UNRWA in 2010. However, it later offered emergency food aid to Palestinians through the World Food Program, including $12 million in 2014.
"By providing direct and tangible aid, such as emergency food delivery, Canada is choosing its assistance in ways to ensure Hamas cannot divert Canadian dollars towards terrorist activities,” Christian Paradis, the former foreign affairs minister, said at the time.