Montréal, 18 October 2012
Mr Michael Casey
Development and Peace
Mr. Executive Director,
It is with great regret and not without inner turmoil, that I hereby submit my resignation from the position of Director of the In-Canada Program Department at Development and Peace.
The abrupt cancellation of the fall 2012 campaign and the crisis in which we are now immersed was the straw that broke the camel's back. Prepared by a competent and knowledgeable team in response to specific requests from the membership of Development and Peace as well as to a decision of the National Council, this campaign has been cancelled at the very moment of its anticipated launch. We have been asked to produce, as if by magic, another "modified" campaign. We were told that that campaign was to be "modified" by removing the call for member engagement and public advocacy. It is important to note here that the call to make a symbolic gesture of advocacy is a component of a process of education. We should also remember that on many occasions Development and Peace’s partners have expressed that the work done by our organization against the structures of injustice and in favour of the interests of the people in the South is at least if not more important to them than the financial support they receive. .
The freedom for Development and Peace and its members to hold accountable an elected government and its administration of the citizens’ taxes is what is currently being questioned. This freedom is at the heart of a functioning democracy. It is also the responsibility of the Church and the faithful to question the government and hold it accountable on issues of concern to Catholics in this country, such as solidarity with the poor of the global South, or again, the choices government makes in relation to the promotion of a just and sustainable development.
Faced with these pressures on our organization, I can only note that the fundamental values of Development and Peace seem to have collapsed within its leadership. We have heard it said that "advocacy is not part of the mission of Development and Peace", yet we know that advocacy isthe expression of the solidarity of Catholics in this country who struggle against the structures of injustice that perpetuate global poverty. An exclusive concern for the survival of the institution is bringing the leadership of Development and Peace to eviscerate the mission of our organization. I am very worried about the future of Development and Peace and as a member of the management team, I am party to its choices, in spite of my disagreement. In addition, management has not made clear from whence come the pressures that force Development and Peace to alter its course. We can only standby helplessly and watch as confusion and chaos build in and amongst our members and staff.
This situation has existed for some years but is now deteriorating rapidly. Already in 2011, Development and Peace abruptly cut its support to a Mexican human rights organization–the highly respected Center PRO. Subsequently, it would be the entire program of human rights in Mexico that would disappear. Development and Peace was prevented from explaining the cause and the hasty process of this decision.
With the current crisis, we are entering an even deeper phase of censorship, tutelage and confusion. "Invited" in extremis to cancel the fall campaign which had been prepared at the request of the membership of Development and Peace and which reflected the growing concern of many sectors of Canadian society, our organization finds itself in the unenviable position of having to improvise in the dark and under urgent pressure an alternative program which leaves many of our grass-roots members frustrated and confused. .At various regional meetings last spring many members told us that in the face of the changes of direction in Canadian development assistance, they wanted for it to be said loud and clear that "This is not the Canada we want”. In spite of this mandate, we must now submit for approval every step of the production of the "modified campaign" of this year and find ways to justify what is happening.
The situation has really become untenable. I do not think this is simply a speed bump, but rather a trend that is leading Development and Peace rapidly away from its specific mission as a Catholic organization devoted to justice.
I remind you, Mr. Executive Director, that not long ago I presented with enthusiasm some of the challenges that the In-Canada Program Department should address in the near future. Today, given what I have described above, it is difficult to see how to mobilize the energies needed to achieve those goals. It is difficult to believe that we can succeed in defining and promoting a more dynamic and development centered vision of our organization when that vision itself is in jeopardy and when our identity is shaken to its very foundations. How does one work to give a fresh wind to mobilisation, as the membership requests, when advocacy itself has become suspect?
Despite the confidence expressed in me by the team of my department, the situation of guardianship and tutelage under which Development and Peace now finds itself and the lack of support regarding the issues I have raised among the leadership leads me, with regret, to tendermy resignation as Director of the In-Canada Program Department for Development and Peace.
I am at your disposal to discuss the timing of my departure.
Director of the In-Canada program Department