Alternatives learned in December 2009 through information leaked to a national newspaper, that their federal government funding was to be cut. There was wide speculation in the media that the decision was related to Alternative's long-standing support for the rights of Palestinians to dignity and self-determination.
In December 2009, following 17 years of cooperation with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in over 30 countries, Alternatives learned through an article in a national newspaper that funding from CIDA for their programs was to be cut. The defunding for Alternatives’ programs came despite successive positive evaluations by independent auditors.
The Minister of International Cooperation, Beverley Oda, and CIDA President Margaret Briggs, refused to respond to calls and questions from the organization. The media speculated that this behaviour related to Alternatives’ positions on Palestinian rights.
Alternatives was forced to dismiss many members of its staff and to cancel various projects following cuts to funding. However, in spite of all this, the organization continues to run projects in many countries using funds from sources other than CIDA, such as those from the European Union, Ministère des Relations Internationales du Québec and member donations.
Finally, after 15 months of non-communication and eventual negotiations, Alternatives was offered 30% of the program funding necessary to maintain the organizations’ programs overseas. Numerous long-standing partnerships were forced to fold beyond those in Palestine, thus ending support for programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Honduras.
- December 2009: Alternatives' funding is cut, without the organisation being formally informed after 17 years of cooperation with the CIDA.
- 2011: Alternatives eventually manages to negotiate to receive some funding to maintain part of their program overseas. However, the funding they received was not sufficient for them to maintain the level of engagement they had in the past. Alternatives was therefore forced to end its support for various programs.
Role or Position
International solidarity organization, focusing on climate justice, democracy, and social movements for the dignity of peoples.
Implications and Consequences
- Free Speech: Canadian organizations such as Alternatives (and others, including Kairos and Rights & Democracy) who are working in Palestine or promoting the rights of the Palestinians, continue to be penalized. Such penalties are not only with respect to programs and projects carried out in Palestine, but ultimately affect these organizations’ activities as a whole.
- Free Speech: Alternatives submitted a petition signed by 1500 people demanding the renewal of the organization’s full funding to Minister Beverley Oda. She also received over 500 letters of support for Alternatives. Numerous allies of Alternatives, both in Canada and outside the country, have also written to the Minister.