Canada’s Liberal government is facing heavy criticism from the Conservative opposition after International Development Minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, admitted that Canadian humanitarian assistance could help terrorists, including ISIS and Hamas.
In a Sirius XM interview last week, Bibeau told the Huffington Post Canada that humanitarian organizations provide services to “whoever needs help,” acknowledging that aid can reach both sides of the conflict.
“Obviously, we will not get involved in any way in this once we have given money to an organization. They give food and services to the people in need, no matter where they decided to go.”
Several Conservative members of Parliament criticized the Liberals for overlooking the consequences of such decisions.
“On one hand, these terrorists want to harm us. On the other hand, this Liberal government turns a blind eye to them benefitting from our aid dollars, Why?” asked Conservative Deepak Obhrai from Calgary.
The parliamentary secretary to Development Minister Karina Gould defended Bibeau’s comments, suggesting the policy of impartiality in development assistance is in line with the Geneva Conventions and the previous Canadian governments.
On Tuesday, the Liberals were also pressed on the government’s consideration of funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose argued that Hamas – a designated terrorist organization – used UNRWA hospitals and schools in Gaza to host Hamas missiles intended to target Israelis. In addition, members of UNRWA staff have been fired after engaging in violent, anti-Semitic incitement.
“Yet, the prime minister has planned $15 million in new funding for UNRWA,” said Ambrose.
Conservative MP Peter Kent also criticized the government’s proposal, claiming that the financial assistance would be directly delivered to “terrorists.”
In 2004, UNRWA’s then Commissioner-General Peter Hansen confirmed the U.N. organization’s relationship with Hamas to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don’t see that as a crime,” Hansen said.
Critics have long argued that UNRWA schools allow Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to set the educational agenda for the purposes of propagating violent incitement against Israel and glorifying terrorists who kill Jews.
During the weekend, Bibeau said that the government is “evaluating the situation” and “the decision will be taken shortly,” while speaking on Canada’s CTV news channel.