Fantino defends grant for anti-gay group in Uganda
International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino says money for aid projects abroad is handed out on the basis of results, not religion.
Fantino made the remarks Monday in the House of Commons, where he was defending a federal grant to an Ontario evangelical group that has described homosexuality as a perversion and a sin.
The Canadian Press reported Sunday that Crossroads Christian Communications, a group that produces television programs, received $544,813 in federal money to help dig wells, build latrines and promote hygiene awareness in Uganda through 2014.
During Monday's question period, New Democrat MP Helene Laverdiere said Fantino's office has become a "black hole'' for aid proposals, with many simply disappearing.
"Those that are funded are increasingly out of step with Canadians,'' she said.
"How did Christian Crossroads, an anti-gay organization, get sign-off from the minister to operate in a country which Canada has strongly criticized for persecution of its gay citizens?''
Uganda has been shaken by virulent homophobia in the past; Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has condemned plans for an anti-gay bill there that could potentially include the death penalty for homosexuals.
Crossroads recently listed homosexuality as a perversion and a sin on its website, although the post disappeared after questions were asked about it.
Fantino defended the financing decision.
"We fund results-based projects, not organizations, and projects are delivered without religious content, including this particular project,'' he said.
Laverdiere said a number of groups which the government dislikes have been cut off, but "religious groups that promote their ideology have Conservative connections.''
"This is absolutely bogus,'' Fantino retorted. "Religion has nothing to do with any of that.''
On Sunday, in the wake of the CP report, the minister tweeted that he would look into the matter.
"I have asked to review this organization before further payments are made,'' Fantino wrote.
Photo: via CP