Thursday, February 04, 2010

Rights and Democracy: Aurel Braun's epic flail

Aurel Braun, the embattled Chair of the Board of Rights and Democracy, has come back swinging at his legion of critics. But so far, he hasn't landed a punch.

Criticism of his heavy-handedness and screamingly obvious political biases he calls "vicious" and "obscene." Everyone, it seems, is out to get him: former presidents of the Centre, opposition MPs, his own staff.

"I and my board have been subjected to the most vicious partisan smear campaign when all we are, in fact, are human rights activists who are trying to make sure this organization is transparent and accountable and congruent with the good conscience of the Canadian people," Braun said. "I am bewildered by these accusations and embarrassed as a Canadian."

Cry me a river. Your antics, Dr. Braun, have caused two international Board members with impeccable credentials, Sima Samar of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and Payam Akhavan, to quit in protest this past January. You ensured that a third, Guido Riveros Franck, would not be reappointed. Each of these individuals possesses credentials in the field of human rights that dwarf your own, and tower above those of party hacks like recent Harper appointee Brad Farquhar.

Your staff have risen up to protest your heavy-handed governance. You claim that their letter has no credibility because, you allege, one signature--out of 47--was found to have been added in error. Does this magically erase the profound concerns of the other 46? Pull the other one. And how do you respond? By gutting the entire top echelon of Centre management. And gagging your employees.

You continue your attacks on Middle East human rights agencies, offering no evidence whatsoever to back up your smears. Then you whine about being smeared yourself.

And speaking of smears:

Braun also said that contrary to widespread perception, the vote to repudiate the grants passed 8-0 with two abstentions at the fateful January board meeting; [Rémy] Beauregard voted with the majority.

"He became convinced in the end that these were toxic groups whose funding should be repudiated," Braun said.

Incredible. What actually happened was that the President, who had already initiated a cleanup of management practices at the Centre, agreed to the freezing of his discretionary emergency fund until new spending parameters were put in place. There is no evidence to support the contention, and indeed it is an offence to his memory, to claim that Beauregard had come to agree with your slander of respectable human rights groups.

And this is where things are at now:

[T]he centre is in such a state of dysfunction, it is unable to get expense money to staffers assisting the relief effort in Haiti.

Gazette reporter Sue Montgomery had to lend $600 to one staffer for food and water on the assurance she would be reimbursed by the centre.

When Montgomery called the centre this week regarding the reimbursement, she was told that no one on staff is authorized to sign cheques for the time being.

You're doing a hell of a job, Braunie.

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