When Conservative candidate Brad Trost told a group of supporters he was "proud" of the work he'd done to deny funding to an international family-planning group, he sent the Tory damage-control machine into overdrive.
The Conservatives deny that any decision has been made about funding to the organization and have distanced themselves from their own candidate, calling him a "backbench MP." And Bev Oda, the minister in charge of the Canadian International Development Agency, issued a statement saying the International Planned Parenthood Federation can receive funding - providing it submits an application that meets the government's criteria for maternal health.
But Mr. Trost was at least partially correct on the question of funding. The International Planned Parenthood Federation has been in limbo, waiting to hear from CIDA about its 2010 funding proposal for $9-million over 18 months.
The organization had submitted the proposal last spring but the March 31 deadline came and went without any notice or word from CIDA, IPPF official Paul Bell told The Globe on Thursday.
"We had hoped to receive funding for 2010 … that is the first year in 40 years that we have not been partnering with Canada," Mr. Bell said.
His organization's proposal, he said, was written to take into consideration the principle laid out by the Harper government in its G8 maternal health initiative that it would not fund abortion services.
Instead, it was to provide everything but abortion services, including family planning and contraception services as well as nutritional and pre- and post-natal care services in developing countries.
No guidelines were provided to the organization by CIDA, according to Mr. Bell. As far as his organization can ascertain, there is no written document to refer to or work from.
"It's not quite like working in the dark but not dissimilar," he said.
Mr. Bell noted that his organization provides a number of maternal and child-health services to developing countries - abortion services account for only 2.1 per cent of its total services.
"We deliver 70 million health services around the world, mainly to poor people in poor countries," he said. "If you defund IPFF just on the basis of our abortion work and not on the rest of everything we do, you really do impact a huge number of communities around the world ... it's a little bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater."
He said to lose $6-million in funding is "catastrophic" for some communities.
The IPPF is now working on a new submission, given Ms. Oda's statement. Mr. Bell said the group will ask for $12-million over two years.
CIDA officials would not comment beyond the statement issued by Ms. Oda's office.
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