16 August 2006

Harper and the AIDS Conference

Over the course of the past week, the PM has taken a ton of heat for going up North to help launch Operation Landcaster instead of appearing at the World AIDS Conference in Toronto. Even Devin, the blond emo VJ at MuchMusic, has taken a shot at "your Prime Minister" for not being there. There's been the gamut of comments, everything from Harper's a homophobic to Harper's afraid he'll get it from being around the gay people with it, and on and on. Amidst all the sound and fury but little action, I've seen only a couple of comments that really mean something. One is from Jason Bo Green, who launched into a tirade (the good kind) that criticized people on all sides of the spectrum for making a cheap political ploy out of Harper's decision. The comment is awesome, and can be read here (do a Crtl+F and search for his name, or just scroll down).

I'm not particularly interested in playing political games over this topic because it is one that is truly horrific in its scale and scope of causing human suffering. Instead of focusing on the real issue--the millions of people who are dying and for whom HIV/AIDS is still a death sentence--we're splitting hairs over where Stephen Harper was last weekend. How many people making the accusations at Harper have *done* something to help fight the scourge of AIDS? As JBG raised in his comment, how many people know anything about the disease beyond the ways in which it can be contracted?

I've largely stayed out of the discussion because, frankly, I know very little about the disease. What I know about HIV/AIDS could fill maybe a single-spaced, single page. And I haven't walked the talk, either. Not being in possession of large amounts of money, I haven't been able to make more than a token donation when the jar is put out. But I'll tell you this much: I find it really disgusting that people are trying to score political points at the expense of people's lives. In places such as the Congo, women and children are being raped en masse by soldiers who have AIDS, and nobody is doing anything to stop it. Indeed, people are barely speaking about it. I ask, what is more deserving of attention and opprobrium: Stephen Harper not being at an AIDS Conference, or women & children being systemically raped by those who seek to use AIDS as a weapon to spread intimidation, death, and horror?


Jason Bo Green said...

Wow - I don't know how to express my surprise (and flatteredness), Richard. Thanks.

I'm happy so long as the G-G is there, and she was. Woulda been great for the PM to be present, but oh well - and it doesn't bother me that he's elsewhere.

In other news - why would you be an expert on AIDS? We have AIDS experts already - your calling in life is just as important, mister (and probably moreso, actually).

You're too kind.

RGM said...

Of all the comments in that thread, yours and tangojuliette's stand out as voices of reason, and I like to applaud that where possible. Far too much partisanship and ploys over something that will fade away when the news cycle changes its focus. The plague of AIDS will still be there come election time, and that's why it is ultimately irrelevant whether Harper showed up for the conference.

Jason Bo Green said...

I do like that new kid on the block tangojuliette myself!!!

Far too much partisanship is right - god, can't we just get rid of parties somehow?

RGM said...

Abolish parties eh? There's nothing in the Constitution that references them, so I think you could probably get away with it without involving the Supreme Court...though the "freedom of association" provisions may come into play.

Nah, I like the parties, they make the political scene fun. It'd be nice if there were less of them (i.e. let's find a way to make the Bloc irrelevant and fade out of existence and keep Canada intact) because with so many parties the chances of a majority government anytime soon are slim.