UTM political science professor Aurel Braun was asked to resign from his position as chair of Rights and Democracy, a non-partisan organization based in Montreal that promotes human rights and democratic institutions abroad.
The call for resignation, which was signed by 45 of the agencys 47 staffers, followed the death by heart attack of Rights and Democracy president Rémy Beauregard on January 7.
According to The Toronto Star, Braun and the late Beauregard crossed swords for months over different issues. In a meeting that took place at Beauregards house shortly before his death, most of the board sided with Braun against grants that Beauregard had approved for two Palestinian NGOs. Braun and other members of the board were concerned that that NGOs had terrorist links. They also said that Rights and Democracy itself was lacking in their performance of transparency and accountability procedures.
A motion was subsequently introduced to “repudiate” the grants. Beauregard and his allies voted in favour. Two board members walked off in protest.
During the same meeting, Beaure-
gards performance was as president was criticized. Braun had previously sided with members Jacques Gauthier and Elliot Tepper to issue their own evaluation of Beauregards performance, which they neglected to submit to either Beauregard or the rest of the board, before sending it to Prime Minister Stephen Harpers office.
Following Beauregards death, four former presidents wrote to Harper, asking him to investigate the circumstances of the presidents death with a focus on the role and conduct of the board. A petition signed by staffers of Rights and Democracy accused Braun and two other members of harassment and demanded their resignation or firing.
Beauregards family also submitted a letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to heed the requests of the organizations staff and the four former presidents to investigate the circumstances surrounding their relatives death.
We intend to clean up this organization and the mandate that Canadian people intent for this organization. We want to make sure that there is transparency; we want to make sure that there is accountability, said Braun on CTVs Power Play.
Ed Broadbent, a former president of Rights and Democracy, joined other analysts in claiming that the source of the conflict lay in ideological disputes. Its this government putting people on the board that will pursue their Middle East agenda, said Broadbent in an interview for the same CTV show.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said he intended to meet with Braun to gain a better understanding of the situation and to clear up disputes, adding that he did not intend on intervening in terms of the discussions that are held at the board level.
Rights and Democracy was founded under the conservative government of Brian Mulroney in 1988. The organization receives approximately $11 million in government funding each year and reports directly to Parliament. Thirteen members sit on the Board of Directors, ten Canadian incumbents are appointed by the government and three international members are elected by those ten.