Canada threatens to pull Commonwealth funding

NUSA DUA, October 8, 2013 (AFP) – Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has threatened to withdraw funding for the Commonwealth in an escalating row over rights abuses by Sri Lanka ahead of a summit next month. Harper confirmed late Monday that he was boycotting the November 15-17 summit in Colombo, citing “the absence of accountability for the serious violations of human rights” during and after Sri Lanka’s long civil war against Tamil separatists.

“I do this with somewhat of a heavy heart.

This is a great disappointment,” he told reporters at an Asia-Pacific summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, while stressing that Canadians were “absolutely overwhelming” in their view that he should stay away.

Sri Lanka’s government had shown a “considerable worsening” over the past couple of years in terms of democratic governance, post-war reconciliation and respect for human rights, Harper said.

He added that “obviously we will examine our engagement and our financing of the Commonwealth, which is quite considerable, to make sure that we are wisely using taxpayers’ dollars and reflecting Canadian values”.

After Britain, Canada is the second-largest contributor to the Commonwealth budget, provid