Meeting on June 10, 11 and 12, the National Council of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, an international solidarity movement, adopted an important resolution related to a crisis that has been rocking the organization for several months. The resolution reiterates the commitment of Development and Peace to its fundamental mission and modes of operation.
The National Council, the movement’s highest decision-making body, clearly stated that in order for it “to live out its preferential option for the poor and to deliver on its mandate, it should be able to continue to work in networks and form alliances in the North and the Global South
In the resolution, the National Council also affirms that it “should retain the capacity to make decisions regarding its international programs and partnerships in the Global South and in the North, and that this is a fundamental element in enabling the effectiveness of its program.”
The preamble to this resolution underscores that many of the organization’s members and partners have been asking the management of Development and Peace to reconsider certain decisions, notably with regard to the direct involvement of bishops in the South in monitoring certain partnerships and the elimination of funding for the Mexican partner organization PRODH.
This resolution comes on the heels of a series of accusations made against Development and Peace by certain socially conservative groups who claim that the organization maintains links with partners that promote abortion or contraception. Even though the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) investigated and countered these allegations in 2009, the accusations being circulated by these groups have achieved their objectives regarding PRODH, a long-standing partnership. Under the pressure of such increasingly radical lobbying, the management of Development and Peace recently tried to impose fundamental changes in processes related to its partnerships in the Global South. The National Council reminded management that such changes must be debated and decided upon, in a transparent fashion, by the appropriate decision-making bodies.
The Union is encouraged
The Employees Union of Development and Peace, which represents some 60 staff members of the organization, is pleased to see that the members of the National Council share the employees’ concerns and that they support their international solidarity action, which first and foremost is geared towards integral human development.
“Compelling us to secure a letter of support from a local bishop before partnering with a group or insisting that our partners cannot participate in coalitions with organizations that do not share all the moral precepts of the Catholic Church will undercut the very foundations of the work we have been doing for the past 44 years. In our opinion, these measures would not improve the daily lives of the vulnerable citizens with whom we work,” explains Marcelle Sinclair, President of the Employees’ Union of Development and Peace.
Special Committee Formed
The National Council agreed to set up a five-member committee to meet with the CCCB Standing Committee on CCODP and to formulate recommendations. The Union wishes its voice to be heard in these discussions: “We are the people who are best positioned to measure the impact of these changes to how we go about doing things,” explains Marcelle Sinclair.
The Union also seeks to defend the principles of democracy and transparency within Development and Peace: “The National Council is where the major decisions must be made. This speaks to the very independence and autonomy of Development and Peace, a movement that we all hold dear,” says Ms. Sinclair. “It should be pointed out that the resolution stipulates that recommendations arising from the dialogue with the CCCB must be studied, discussed and decided upon at the next meeting of the National Council.”
Development and Peace has been engaged in the fight for social justice around the world for the past 44 years. The sixty unionized employees who work with the organization are members of the CSN which is affiliated with the Federation of Public Service Employees (FEESP–CSN), the Metropolitan Montreal Central Council and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux. The CSN, which has some 300,000 members, marks its 90th anniversary this year.