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Saturday, August 19, 2006 

Editorial Slams Harpers 'No Show' at AIDS Conference

“Mr. Harper - you are the Prime Minister for ALL Canadians - Not just the ones you approve of.” That is the message in the main editorial of the Regina Leader Post today. In a scathing criticism of Harper’s ‘no show’ performance at the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, the editors tell our ideologically bound PM that he has made a huge political error.

Huge error by Harper

The Leader-Post
Published: Saturday, August 19, 2006

In Brief: Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a big mistake in not attending the International AIDS Conference.

For a supposedly savvy politician keen to show ordinary Canadians they have nothing to fear from his brand of conservatism, Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed a colossal error of judgment this week.

Bad enough that Harper snubbed the 58,000 Canadians living with HIV and the 13,500 who've died from AIDS when he failed to show up at the six-day International AIDS Conference in Toronto. But from a purely political view point, he spurned a glorious opportunity to court the voters he needs to help win a majority government.

Big city residents are socially liberal by inclination and Harper's failure to win a single seat in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal at the last election confirmed a lingering suspicion those voters regard Harper as a social conservative -- read "redneck" -- out of touch with their views.

What could better counter that than a) rubbing shoulders at the conference with the likes of former U.S. president Bill Clinton and billionaire AIDS activist Bill Gates, b) expressing compassion for the 25 million who've died around the world from AIDS, and c) delivering increased financial support for the fight against HIV/AIDS?

Instead, while 20,000 of the world's top doctors, scientists, politicians, business and community leaders addressed the issue, Harper jetted off to supposedly more pressing engagements in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

As well as angering delegates, Harper's no-show prompted Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf -- who was to represent Africa -- to cancel.

Compounding Harper's snub was his government's equally lamentable performance. Health Minister Tony Clement and International Co-operation Minister Josee Verne attended the event, but cancelled promised news conferences and an expected "good news" announcement.

Harper claimed Thursday the issue was "so politicized" that word on new AIDS funding would not come until after the conference was over.

Little wonder calls of "shame" echoed through the assembly Friday when conference co-chair Dr. Mark Wainberg of the McGill AIDS Centre in Montreal lamented Harper's absence.

Being prime minister means representing all Canadians, a task Harper conspicuously failed to do this week.
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2006

Well at least we now have the official Canadian Taxpayers Federation philosophy on the AIDS epidemic.

(The following is a posting from James Laxer's blogsite):
No Room for AIDS in Harper's Tidy Mind

Stephen Harper’s curt refusal to attend the international conference on AIDS in Toronto was much more than a major political gaffe, although it certainly was that. And it was not just that Steve would feel uncomfortable in the presence of Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, and Bill Clinton, the charismatic liberal who has more capacity to feel the pain of others in any pore of his body than Harper has in his whole being. As a neo-conservative true believer---Harper is a more principled neo-con than George W. Bush will ever be---Stephen Harper has no room in his tidy mind for most of the ills that roil the world.

Neo conservatives like Harper, and our Canadian export to Washington, David Frum, are offended by most of the human race. They picture themselves as members of an “elect”. They are the chosen ones who understand.

In the mind of the neo-con, personal responsibility is the highest good. You are what you make yourself. It is a sign that you are a member of the elect if you have prospered. Wealth is a badge of honour, of achievement, of self-discipline. The poor man you see outside your door is just as surely the author of his own misfortune as the rich man is of his bountiful success. In this atomistic social universe, the individual cares for himself and his family. If everyone would only behave this way, what a prosperous world we all would have. (For a simple, daily dose of this ideology, read the columns of Margaret Wente.)

In the mental system of the neo-con, AIDS sufferers are seen as having chosen the path that has led them to their misfortune. In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, neo-con writers like Washington journalist George F. Will went to great lengths to prove that AIDS was not a general social problem, but only a self-made affliction for gay men. As the pandemic has spread, so that tens of millions are now in its grasp, this uninformed, vicious take on the disease is no longer promulgated in polite company. It still, however, is at the root of the neo-con gospel that sexual abstinence is the key to combating AIDS. It remains all about individual behaviour as far as neo-cons are concerned.

This is not the first time in history that an inhuman, ruling ideology has stood in the way of the alleviation of the suffering of millions of people. In the middle of the 19th century, during the Irish potato famine, in which a million people starved to death, the British upper classes were determined not to feed the hungry on the other side of the Irish Sea. To have done so, and the British Empire was capable of doing so, would have been a violation of the rules of the market. Since the Irish had no means to pay for imported food, nothing could be done. Indeed, Ireland went on exporting agricultural products to other parts of the world at the peak of the famine.

Steve wouldn’t have fitted in at a conference where people accept the idea that there is a social dimension to the human journey, that we are all in this together and that the suffering of a large part of humanity is the suffering of the whole world.

This is one weird guy we’ve got at 24 Sussex. Picture him in a Puritan hat.

God Bless Canada!

Furthermore, Canadians who practise a virtuous lifestyle are forced to pay the cost for those whose lifestyle choices are nearly always the cause of their unfortunate condition. After all, almost no one who practises monogamy and eschews intravenous drug use will contract AIDS.

Who wrote that piece of BS?

It was posted by an individual who has strong ties to the CTF. I also am quite sure that this is the offical policy of our PM Harper.

AIDS is in vogue? It's an epidemic that is spreading. I lead a virtuous lifestyle and my heart goes out to this cause d'jour. Man this makes me mad. You know what? All right wing people are just wrong. I really is that simple.

Thanks, leftdog. And kudos to the Leader Post for that editorial.

Keep your eye on this thread. Our CTF friend (name of 'money bags4me) will most likely be back to trash all and be abusive.

Discussion of Canadian HIV/AIDS statistics misses the point entirely imho. The plight of people with HIV/AIDS in Canada is sad, but not the emergency. North America accounted for 1% of new infections in 2005 (43,000 new infections). Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 66% of new infections in 2005 (2.7 MILLION new infections).

2 MILLION people in sub-Saharan Africa died of HIV/AIDS in 2005, over 5,400 people EACH AND EVERY DAY!!!

There are currently 13.2 million women, and over 2 million children under 15 living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. 87% of children under the age of 15 living with HIV/AIDS worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa. Only 17% of people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa have access to the drugs they need to survive.

Pointing out how few Canadians live with and die of HIV/AIDS every year COMPLETELY ignores the fact that Africa is burning, and Western governments and the U.N. are fiddling away.

Conservatives who see this disease as a "lifestyle consequence" should think about those 15.2 million women and children in sub-Saharan Africa, and whether they really believe that a lack of "virtue" is what is killing these victims. Because maybe, just maybe, a woman (or child) in a remote sub-Saharan African village doesn't have the same protection and freedom to choose as a woman in downtown Montreal. Maybe, just maybe, it isn't "promiscuity" that's killing over 5000 Africans each and every day.

1.3 million North Americans were living with HIV/AIDS in 2005, and 18,000 North Americans died, which is very sad, though admittedly, not as high as many other diseases. Thankfully, there were only 43,000 new infections in North America last year, though of course, even 1 is too many.

But please don't let our progress here blind you to the 24.5 million in sub-Saharan Africa who are living with the disease. Don't let our reality in North America blind you to a world that lost 2 million people last year. See if you can do something to prevent this year from being like last year, where 43,000 North Americans became HIV positive, and the same happened to 2.7 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. Even if "something" is simply acknowledging what's going on.

Moral Superiority!!

I think essential the Right sees it this way:

"Stephen Harper could not possibly go to the International AIDS Conference hosted this year by Canada - hell these guys all got sick because they are bad! Serves them right. And they aren't even the number one disease anyways ... so to heck with you lefty's and your politically correct disease".
Sincerely yours
all the right wingers in Canada

Let me see if I understand the logical position of "money bags4me". The proportion of deaths due to AIDS is actually quite small compared to other diseases; therefore, it deserves appropriately lesser attention.

On the other hand, the miniscule number of same-sex marriages that take place in Canada are an obvious threat to all of our current marriages, to our country's well-being and social structures, and to the health of Western civilization in general.

Do I have that about right?

MB4Me said, "It is facinating how you can rail against people who make value judgments on logical criteria."

Gawd are you ever sanctimonious! Who's values are you referring to? Your 'Canadian Taxpayers Federation' values or Book of Leviticus 'values'?

Then MB4Me said, "...though officially claim that no form of morality is superior to any other."

Guess what, no one form of morality is superior to any other! Once again with the 'sanctimony'.

Postscript:(and you are now confusing things that you said here under one of your aliases with things said by one of your other persona's).

Well, Well, Well. MB4M. AS I posted over on my blog, how do you reconcile your statements about people contracting AIDS by thier own fault with this:

"Tens of thousands of blood transfusion recipients in Canada contracted the AIDS and hepatitis C viruses from contaminated blood and blood products in the 1980s."



Oh but wait. Harper and the CPC were all over this one, weren't they? Why wan't THIS a "politicized issue"

the rank hypocracy from the right on this issue is astounding

And while we're at it MB4M. check out the facts.


They are an organization that deals with AIDS and malaria and while Malaria kills 1 million per year, AIDS kills 3 million.

Oh, and many of the Malaria deaths - were from having AIDS before contracting malaria, making the malaria far more deadly.

I guess you belive that facts should never stand in the way of a good argument, right?

I bet Mr. Harper would have attended a similar type of World Malaria Conference or a World Tuberculosis Conference if they were held in Canada. No I think he did not go for the same reasons that Money bags said which is that they both see this as an immoral disease. I don't think viruses really give a hoot about morality all we are talking about here is a type of transmission. No the fact that this disease has hit hard at gay men and black africans is something the Christian fundamentalists just cannot tolerate and we see these types of arguments being made.

Of course, moneybags assumes that women in remote villages in Africa understand the risks of having unprotected sex (and that if they don't, we certainly shouldn't spend money trying to educate them about it). He also assumes that women in Africa have the same sexual choices as women in North America. Spend a year living as a 15 year old girl in sub-Saharan Africa before telling me these women have "complete control over who they have sex with".

I'm also not sure why you bring up that Malaria killed 2.7 million people worldwide, given that HIV/AIDS killed 2.8 million people worldwide last year, and more importantly, 2 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

As for TB, I think it's tragic that 3.74 million people in Africa are living with that terrible disease. But there are 24.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan africa, and 24.5 is a lot bigger than 3.74. As for deaths, a tragic 586,911 people in Africa died from TB in 2004 (INCLUDING those who were also HIV positive), but again 2 MILLION people (in sub-Saharan Africa, not ALL of Africa) died from HIV/AIDS. For those who can't do the math, that makes about 2 million deaths a year in Africa from TB and Malaria combined, and 2 million from HIV/AIDS. More importantly, there are 3.7 million people in Africa living with TB, and 24.5 million living with HIV/AIDS. Which disease is going to spread faster and kill more people? The one that 4 million have, or the one that 24 million have?

Again, just look at the TB:HIV/AIDS comparison for Africa. TB: 3.74 million infected, almost 600,000 dead in 2004. HIV/AIDS: 24.5 million people infected, 2 million dead (in Sub-Saharan Africa) in 2005. Seems clear to me why there's a need to focus on HIV/AIDS.

Plus, no one's going around telling people with TB and Malaria that it's their own damn fault that they're sick. (oh and I don't think South Africa's Health Minister prescribes a traditional remedy of garlic, lemon and beets to treat TB and Malaria, the way they do for HIV/AIDS).


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