Ottawa has started talks on new funding for a major international family planning organization that has been cut off since the beginning of the year, even though the Harper government has tried to scuttle talk of new funding while it is tripping over its own toes on abortion.
International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda opened the door to providing indirect funding for abortion services in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen earlier this week, but the Prime Minister's office later insisted that's not so. And Ms. Oda's spokesman, Jessica Fletcher, told The Canadian Press that it's "inaccurate" to suggest that CIDA's on the verge of funding International Planned Parenthood Federation, which provides family planning services in several countries, and abortion services where it's legal.
But IPPF spokeswoman Jennifer Woodside says they have begun talks over the past month with the Canadian International Development Agency about new funding. It's not clear yet if the Canadian government wants a deal that restricts their money from being used on abortion services, however.
CIDA had funded IPPF for decades, but the organization didn't get a new grant when it's three-year, $18-million CIDA grant ran out at the end of 2009. A Conservative MP, Brad Trost, organized a petition last year to stop Canada from funding the IPPF because it funds abortion and promotes abortion rights.
The Harper government sparked controversy earlier this year when it announced that it would not allow money for its part of a G8 maternal-health initiative for poor nations to be used to fund abortions.
The PMO was quick to quash any suggestion of a change of heart when Ms. Oda was reported as saying Canada is willing to fund health infrastructure in developing countries that is used for abortions. "As long as it is legal within the country and it's a legal procedure ... if we were asked to help in that way, we would do that," the Ottawa Citizen quoted her as saying.