Dear Members of the National Council
I wish all of you good luck over the next three days of meetings. I believe that this meeting will be one of the most crucial for the organization in the history of Development and Peace. I am sure all of you will have received input from members over the past few weeks on the current situation regarding our practice and policy involving partners. I think that you will have to ask difficult questions on who in the future will be making decisions on who we support.
In the past few weeks, it has become clear that your authority has been challenged. Very strong opinions have been expressed over the decision-making process when it comes to who should be considered an appropriate partner. To my mind however, National Council has been removed from this process. I have heard very strongly worded statements by Archbishop Prendergast about the danger of working with 'evil' in the world. These comments have been directed at our partners. We have also witnessed the breakdown of the partner approval process. A Mexican cardinal has in fact determined policy for us by stating an opinion not based on any discernible fact.
National Council members, the process must be respected. We have a wonderful staff of trained professionals who make decisions on partners and projects on a regular basis. We have a very committed group of volunteers who sit on the International Development Committees who give up their time on a regular basis to overview the work of our professional staff.
Over the years, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this process. We have held conferences where experts from around the world have come to Montreal to speak to us on how to do a better job of serving the poor and empowering people. We have spent hundreds of hours debating and discerning policy at the National level. We are respected throughout the world for having a member-based organization that is highly effective at delivering development assistance to very credible partners.
A very wise person once told me that working for social justice is very dangerous work. While we are very fortunate not to experience the physical danger that many of our partners experience, there is another type of danger that we must all be aware of. The danger that presents itself here is the reactionary opinion of powerful voices that seek to limit and control the good work that we do. We are in a dangerous situation right now where powerful forces are seeking to control the work that you do.
My prayer for you this weekend is that you will all have the courage of your convictions and you will defend the proud, independent tradition of the National Council and that you will resist the forces that seek to limit your ability to do justice in the world.