Dr.Dawg

Rights & Democracy: the bitter end?

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I half-expected that BC writer Terry Glavin might be prepared to reconsider his ill-judged article in The Mark back in June. I was wrong.

At the time, a lively exchange took place, which The Mark’s editors have for some reason seen fit to suppress.* I myself made the following points:

  • The concerted opposition to the Clown Car brigade’s management of Rights and Democracy is not motivated by “anti-Semitism” (in Terry’s words, tapping into a “Jews Behaving Badly” meme). Playing that neo-McCarthyist card simply won’t work: no one could accuse Maclean’s journo Paul Wells, who has spearheaded the opposition, of anything of the kind. Besides, it’s a foolish accusation on its face, given that a majority of the Gang of Seven who seized control of R&D last January happen to be non-Jewish.

  • Terry tried to draw a straight line between the late unlamented presidency of Jean-Louis Roy and the present Board—echoing David Matas’ claim, dismembered by Paul Wells, that the new folks were simply trying to put R&D’s financial house in order. That won’t wash, because the straight line somehow missed two vital years of R&D history—the presidency of Rémy Beauregard, who came in after Roy and quickly set about reforming R&D’s financial practices.

And now we have the Deloitte and Touche audit, which backs up almost every word the critics have been saying all along. It wasn’t in their mandate, alas, to check out the antics of the current Board—including handsome honoraria, pointless investigations to the tune of nearly $400,000 of taxpayers’ cash, and hiring each other on contract.

Or this sort of thing, courtesy of Paul Wells:

…Peter Stockland, who ran (runs?) Prima Communications, which R&D contracted without tender at considerable cost to the taxpayer and which put out one news release before merging his little think tank thingie with a little think tank thingie run by Michael van Pelt, a member of the R&D board.

Whew.

Indeed, Wells didn’t mince words after the D&T report was leaked: he calls Beauregard’s persecutors and post-mortem defamers “scoundrels,” and the word is entirely and precisely apt.

What is Glavin left with? Not much. And so he calls for the dissolution of R&D, after having the face to say that “we should not be surprised” by the Deloitte and Touche report. Agreed, of course: we should not. But given his article in The Mark, I suspect Terry was more than a little disappointed. Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

A few points:

  • Glavin quotes the D&T auditors: “Our work did not have the objective of detecting errors or fraud that might exist… All the facts related in this report are only based on the documents provided to us.” “Some witch hunt,” he sneers. Is he so unfamiliar with auditors’ reports that he doesn’t recognize boilerplate legal disclaimer language when he sees it?

  • He questions the $400,000 figure: this, he says, “will no doubt come as a surprise to the Rights and Democracy board, among others.” But the figure is accurate. It comprises the quarter-million dollar audit itself, the SIRCO investigation of senior staff (whose report is still under wraps) and related legal and public relations costs. If Glavin is only objecting to the notion that this was spent “to discredit the now-deceased former head of the organization,” that’s a mere quibble. The funds were expended to find evidence that Beauregard ran a sloppy, even corrupt shop. They were wasted. End of story.

  • “Whether Rights and Democracy’s board is ‘pro-Israel,’” says Glavin, “is both a dubious assertion and immaterial to everything except conspiracy theories involving shadowy Zionists.” Well, hardly. The sympathies of many of the recently-appointed Board members are fairly well-known, because they themselves have been vocal on the subject.

    Current Board Chair Aurel Braun has hardly been reticent on the question of Israel and the three small R&D grants ($30K all told, not $10K as Terry says) given to Middle East human rights organizations. Arabic-speaking staff have been subject to racial profiling under the new administration. The notion, advanced by Board member David Matas, that the fuss was all about finances and that ME politics didn’t come into it, rings rather hollow. Again, Paul Wells was on this months ago.

  • Whether the vote in January to “repudiate” the three grants was 7-6 as has been widely reported, or 9-0, as Matas said, or 8-0 as Braun said, is immaterial. We don’t have the Minutes of that meeting, only conflicting accounts of what went on at it.

Of far more interest, it seems to me (and no one else appears to have picked this up), is that the original 13-member Board has now shrunk to 9. What’s up with that?

In any case, perhaps Glavin and I are in mild agreement. The current expensive and unfunny comic opera has to cease: enough is enough. But I see no reason to knock the house down because it presently contains scoundrels. Instead, I hope that the functioning mandate of the organization might be restored by sending the Clown Car brigade off into the sunset and replacing them with professionals. Is that really asking so much?

UPDATE: Gerard Latulippe reacts:

While the Deloitte report did not identify any illegalities, fraud or embezzlement during the period under review, it did reveal serious problems of governance.

And the improvement in governance this year has indeed been remarkable.


* I have now been assured by The Mark that the disappearance of the comments was a “technical glitch” and will be fixed shortly.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on December 17, 2010 10:53 AM.

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