I read with some regret the approach taken by fellow Rotarian Jim Taylor in his open letter to me in The Okanagan Sunday, which criticizes Canada's efforts on behalf of
people in the developing world.
To say Canada is on the side of those who commit violence against women and children because the funding criteria that supports reducing international maternal and infant mortality doesn't include abortion is thoughtless, partisan rhetoric that alarms the community and stifles rational discussion.
Secondly, in accusing the government of standing with the rapists, he has overlooked the initiatives that exist in order to address this important issue.
To use Taylor's example of the Congo, the federal government has partnered with
other nations and contributed $18 million to the United Nations-led fight against sexual violence in that country.
Under the auspices of the UN, the program provided victims with healthcare, psychosocial and socioeconomic support, services were provided to help victims reintegrate into their communities, survivors' legal claims were reviewed, and perpetrators were convicted and sentenced.
More recently, while attending last year's Summit of La Francophonie, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced additional support to help the Democratic Republic of Congo fight sexual and gender-based violence and help victims recover from these barbaric crimes.
In his speech to the UN in September, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird pledged Canada's commitment to continue to help end the practice of child, early and forced marriage at the G-8 and in UN resolutions, including in the UN General Assembly
violence against women resolution.
We have also provided funding to country-specific projects targeting child, early and forced marriage, and girls' rights through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, the Global Peace and Security Fund, and through our development assistance program.
Canada generously provides taxpayer-funded support to improve the health of women, newborns and children in developing countries, while also supporting efforts to end the sexual violence perpetrated against women and children, especially during times of war.
I, along with many Canadians, will continue to stand and applaud Canada's international development efforts and our unwavering condemnation of war crimes.
Ron Cannan, MP,
Kelowna Lake Country