Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Life, My City: Ethics of Urban Living Speakers Series

TORONTO, December 29, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - On January 6th at 7pm, Lawrence Park Community Church will kick off a speaker series titled My Life, My City: Ethics of Urban Living with a riveting panel of prominent Torontonians tackling tough questions about "A Vision for Toronto: How Can Toronto become a Great City over the next 10-20 years?"

The debate will feature the following panelists: Paul Beeston, President and C.E.O., Toronto Blue Jays; Sara Diamond, President, Ontario College of Art and Design; Royson James, Columnist, The Toronto Star; and former MPP Frances Lankin, President and C.E.O., United Way.

"The discussion will focus on Toronto's potential to be a great cosmopolitan city," notes Ken Gallinger, Minister of Lawrence Park Community Church. Rev. Gallinger is the Toronto Star's Ethics Columnist and is moderating the discussion. "Each guest is a city leader with a specialized context to share."

After the Panel discussion on January 6th, the My Life, My City series continues each Sunday in January at 10:30am with a guest speaker discussing what it means to live ethically in an urban context. On Sunday, January 10th, Police Chief Bill Blair will discuss "Crime & Community" followed by MPP Cheri DiNovo addressing "Making Neighbourhoods Work" on Sunday January 17th. MP Rob Oliphant will discuss the integration and polarization of "New and Old Canadians" on January 24th and on January 31st John Tory will wrap up the series by considering what it means to be a "Corporate Urban Citizen."

The series continues with Toronto-themed documentaries running each Wednesday evening in January starting at 7pm.

With the municipal elections looming, Jaye Robinson, Chair of the Social Justice Committee, knows people in our city want to discuss what works and what needs to be changed.

"Toronto is a city of contradictions," says Robinson. "Forums like My Life, My City raise awareness of what our collective values really are and what we deem to be priorities in Toronto."

Lawrence Park Community Church is a congregation of the United Church of Canada. It is located at 2180 Bayview Avenue at Dawlish Road, just south of Lawrence Avenue in Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

KAIROS Responds to Accusations of Anti-Semitism and Renews Call for CIDA Funding to Be Restored

TORONTO, December 18, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives denies allegations by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney that it is anti-Semitic and decries the apparent politicization of aid that led to its funding being cut by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). It wants CIDA funding restored.

"Minister Kenney's charge against KAIROS is false," KAIROS says in a statement released today. "Two points need to be made: Criticism of Israel does not constitute anti-Semitism; and CIDA was developed to fund international aid and not to serve political agendas".

KAIROS' response goes on to say, "Minister Kenney's statement, in a highly charged environment, raises very disturbing questions about the integrity of Canadian development aid decisions. If aid decisions are based on political rumour rather than on due diligence, development criteria and CIDA's own evaluation process then this is a matter of grave concern for the entire international development sector -- and for the Canadian people who pay for this aid".

On November 30th, a senior CIDA official informed KAIROS that the agency would no longer fund KAIROS' human rights program, despite a 35-year collaboration. The only reason given was that KAIROS no longer "fit" CIDA program priorities. However, there has been widespread speculation that the real reason for the CIDA funding cut was to sanction KAIROS for its views on the environment and other controversial issues.

KAIROS, a church-based non-governmental organization that represents seven of Canada's largest church denominations, works on a range of social justice issues, including human rights in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. Since 1973, KAIROS and the church coalitions from which it was formed had received funding from CIDA to support partners in countries with the world's most egregious human rights violations including Sudan, the Philippines, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

KAIROS work is highly regarded in Canada and around the world. It supports 21 ecumenical and civil society groups overseas. Hundreds of thousands of people benefit from and depend on KAIROS' support.

Since news of the cuts broke a week ago, the government has been under increasing pressure to reverse its decision. Canadians from across the country, churches and non-governmental groups have written letters of support for KAIROS and called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister Bev Oda to reverse the decision. Questions have been raised in the House of Commons and all opposition parties and the Green Party have also issued media releases calling on the government to reverse its decision.

The full text of the KAIROS statement is available at: