John Baird slams anti-gay statements by CIDA-funded group

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird took aim Tuesday at "offensive" and "mean-spirited" statements on the website of an organization that gets federal funding to do aid work in Uganda.

The Canadian International Development Agency is providing $544,813 over three years to Christian Crossroads Communications Inc. to provide water and sanitation in Uganda, a country that is considering the death penalty for gays and lesbians.

A page from the group's website that has been removed, but is still available as a cached version, calls homosexuality and transvestism perversions and lists them along with pedophilia and bestiality.

Baird told MPs on the foreign affairs committee that those sentiments are offensive. He said the government completely rejects what was on the webpage.

"The suggestion that anyone politically or in the public service level at CIDA, at [the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade], would share or endorse the kind of offensive and mean-spirited statements that appeared on a website, I want to categorically on behalf of the government say that we completely reject those sentiments," Baird said.

"And I can say that if there's, you know, any evidence that anyone receiving a grant from the government of Canada is using that money to spread hateful or mean-spirited or offensive practices, it will be put to an end immediately. And those [sentiments] are not the views of the government."

Fantino said on Twitter Sunday night that the funding would be reviewed before the next payment was sent to the organization. A spokeswoman for CIDA said in an email Monday night that the review was complete and Christian Crossroads complied with the terms of its funding agreement.

Baird says one of his and Fantino's most important responsibilites is to promote Canadian values.

"Canadian values are accepting, they're tolerant, they welcome diversity …," Baird said. "We respect religious freedom. At the same time, Canadian taxpayers dollars will not be used to spread hate or intolerance. That is completely unacceptable."

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