Mulcair's 'un-Canadian' comments warrant explanation

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair

Credits: REUTERS



OTTAWA -- The Conservatives are sending mixed messages over an evangelical Christian group that receives government funding for its well-digging and clean water projects in Uganda.

Crossroads Communications has been the target of anti-evangelical fury after calling homosexuality a sin, leading to a review of its funding by the Canadian International Development Agency.

International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino says funding will continue because a review of Crossroads found no problems.

"The review by officials has shown that the organization delivers projects effectively and without discrimination and has done so since 1999," Fantino told the foreign affairs committee Tuesday.

Appearing at the same committee, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird jumped in after Fantino to slam Crossroads for "offensive" comments about homosexuality on its old website.

"And I can say that if there's, you know, any evidence that anyone receiving a grant from the government of Canada is using that money to spread hateful or mean-spirited or offensive practices, it will be put to an end immediately," said Baird. "And those [sentiments] are not the views of the government."

While Fantino gives Crossroads the green light, Baird's remarks track closer to the line NDP leader Thomas Mulcair took Monday when he slammed "these types of evangelical groups with vision that goes completely against not only Canadian values, but Canadian law."

Mulcair also tried to connect evangelicals to anti-gay violence in Uganda and efforts by that country to ban gay rights promotion.

Conservative MP Kevin Sorenson called Mulcair's comments "disappointing."

"I can tell you that we have a lot of different groups within Canada that have different viewpoints on different issues," said Sorenson. "To call someone un-Canadian, I think it shows more about Mr. Mulcair and his tolerance."

Crossroads issued a news release Monday making clear it stays out of Ugandan politics and that it "supports the Canadian government's position that strongly opposes the criminalization of homosexuality and violence on the basis of sexual orientation."

It also says it hasn't wavered from its view that the Bible "encourages sexuality within a marriage" - typically limited to one man and one woman in evangelical churches.

Nothing that Crossroads had to say made a difference to NDP MP Hélène Laverdière on Tuesday.

"She says the group's views are still "inappropriate, offensive and contrary to Canadian foreign policy goals."

Canadian aid officials say that by last October, Crossroads had ensured access to clean water for 11,000 Ugandans.

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