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Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds a photo opportunity in his Ottawa office Feb. 15, 2011. (CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds a photo opportunity in his Ottawa office Feb. 15, 2011. (CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters)

Bev Oda had 'responsibility' to overrule CIDA, PM says Add to ...

Stephen Harper pushed back again Thursday, defending his beleaguered International Co-operation Minister over her decision to deny funding to a faith-based aid group.

The Prime Minister said he supports Bev Oda's decision to deny funding to church-backed aid group Kairos and noted he has repeatedly told his ministers not to blindly accept the advice and recommendations of bureaucrats.

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"You should know we are very clear with our ministers," he told reporters during a short press conference in Toronto after he announced a new crime measure to protect those who make citizens' arrests. "We were elected to ensure that when we give out taxpayers' money that that taxpayers' money is used for purposes that will further the objectives of policy."

He warned that no organization is entitled to public funds. His test is whether the money "being spent is going to the objectives we want it spent for."

In addition, Mr. Harper noted that many times he and his ministers accept the advice of bureaucrats - but "we are not obliged to accept the recommendations of bureaucrats and I've been very clear to my ministers that they are responsible for the decisions they make and therefore that they think the recommendation is wrong they have a responsibility to change it."

He said that's what Ms. Oda did and he supports her, despite opposition claims she misled Parliament in explaining how a CIDA memo recommending funding for the aid group was altered to revoke it after it had been signed by top bureaucrats.

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