Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How does this help anybody?

I've been thinking some more about the AIDS Conference, and especially given the media coverage of the Federal Government's participation. It's clear that this event has caused a complete meltdown as far as the Tories are concerned, not merely because of the mileage Harper's decision to go to Alert (like Ottawa wasn't far enough away - 4,300km Harper? Seriously, you wouldn't have caught anything, not even at 1/10,000,000th the distance.) but also the bewildering performance of Tony Clement and Josee Verner, cancelling press conferences twice now. It is true that Chretien didn't go in Vancouver in 1996 but if the p'tit gars de Shawinigan is the standard against which the Tories wish to be judged now the next election can't come soon enough.

What this is really about is Harper being booed. Once again we see the American influence at work, but instead of "free speech zones" far from the President, Harper is keeping himself far from anywhere free speech might occur. If Harper had turned up and shown real compassion for the cause of AIDS victims those who booed him might have looked like idiots. Pity he hadn't the courage to find out.

However, on the other side of the events there has been some shocking writing. Let's start with Peter Worthington's disgraceful Toronto Sun column:
Certainly there are more votes available in Nunavut than there likely are at the AIDS get-together.

Even with all the overseas representation I imagine there were more than the five permanent residents Alert listed in the 2001 census.
Like most Canadians who don’t have AIDS and aren’t HIV carriers, Harper probably isn’t much interested in the topic.

Even if such a thing could be true, it is quite at odds with Harper's prioritisation of compensation to Hepatitis C sufferers excluded from Allan Rock's 1998 package - considering the inertia of government it was positively lightning fast and to a fairly small cohort of 5,500 compared to 2,463 HIV positive tests in 2005 alone. In addition, Worthington thinks it is the role of the Health Minister to handle these matters, and I would agree if that was the consistent policy of the Government, which it is not.

And what are we to make of this?
In that vein, I’m not sure our police chief gained many points when, as a good sport, he attended a Gay Pride function and was bussed on the cheek by someone he’d probably have preferred to deck.

And this from a newspaper whose letters and editorial pages are full of dismissiveness and yet find the event itself important enough to have a special section on its website.

If I wanted to read that level of analysis I could just stick with the Tory and/or uber-Catholic Bloggers like Kathy Shaidle who "thanks God" for the Worthington article above, and here's "Upper Canada Catholic":
The cold, hard truth about AIDS is that every single case – EVERY SINGLE CASE – can be traced back to a moral choice to engage in disordered sexual conduct. Every baby who got AIDS from its mother, every person who received infected blood in a transfusion, all of them can trace the origin of their infections back to a very human choice to engage in conduct judged for thousands of years to be harmful to the human race.

Cantor the Conservative:
Can you imagine Richard Gere, or Angelina Jolie advocating for the mentally ill? Of course not... their careers would be ruined if they did.

To all of them I answer:
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Matthew 25:37-40

Update: Apparently Harper's absence meant the President of Liberia cancelled a planned appearance for protocol reasons. I understand a similar situation pertained when Chretien skipped the Vancouver conference and Nelson Mandela who was president of South Africa at the time cancelled for the same reason.

Update2: forgot to add a hat-tip to montreal simon earlier.
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