Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fair and balanced, and the PM's schedule

In my annual attempt at being fair and balanced I'll say I have no problem with Steve Harper's decision not to attend the recent Out Games in Montreal. I do, however, think he should attend the World Aids Conference next week in Toronto.

Harper sent his unelected minister and appointed Senator Michael Fortier to Montreal in his place, and Fortier was soundly booed. No surprise. Some have said this was a reaction to Harper's no-show, but I have no doubt the same reaction would have greeted Harper had be made an appearance.

And that should be no surprise, given the history of Harper and his party on issues like same sex marriage and hate crimes. They have every right to boo him. And he has every right not to go. You could argue if he'd gone it would have been a sign of leadership, or an opportunity to moderate his image and reach out to the GLBT community.

But, given that he has no desire to reach out or moderate, making an appearance would only have been brazen politics. Besides, the PM can't attend every possible event in Canada. That's why he has ministers, and we have a GG for the ceremonial stuff.

However, the World Aids Conference is another matter all together. More than 20,000 delegates will be attending to discuss what is still one of the largest health issues facing our world today. And, as any expert will tell you, health and security are inextricably linked.

Critics will say Jean Chretien didn't attend when the conference was in Vancouver in 1996. Well, he should have. Attending would send an important message of Canada's commitment to working with the world to solve this issue. I home the PMO will revisit this decision, and find room on the schedule for Harper to attend. The event is a week long, surely he can spare half a day somewhere.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Anonymous said...

You're right - Chretien should have. I can't remember the circumstances. Did he refuse or was he tied up.

Anyway, what has the attendance of another PM got to do with Harper's decision? Nothing. If Harper uses the Chretien lack of attendance than he hasn't gotten out of the bash-Liberal mode and use Liberals to blame for his failures.

Playing the blame game to me indicates a weak leader or an ego so high he can't take critism.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Anyway, what has the attendance of another PM got to do with Harper's decision? Nothing.

I agree, I was making a preemptive strike because, knowing our Con friends as I do, that's a lame rock they were sure to hurl.

Anonymous said...

I see your strategy now and you are right. In fact, you are right quite a bit.

When I watched the noon news Harper still had a chance to show, but guess what - he's a no show.

jeff davidson said...

harper absolutely should attend this conference. i don't know if harper will deflect attention from his absence through liberal bashing or not. however, i'l bet any blogging tory who happens to comment on harper's decision surely will.

BlastFurnace said...

By refusing to show up, Harper -- like Chr├ętien before him -- chooses sides. He chooses the side that continues to insist that AIDS is God's punishment for illicit behaviour and that even those who got the disease through no fault of their own still must be punished.

If Harper wants to coddle the Blab It and Grab It Gospel crowd that way, that's his choice. But the God of mercy is also one of justice -- and how he /she chooses to deal with Harper will be the Almighty's, not Harper's.

Darren McEwen said...

I'm still baffled by his spokeswoman Sandra Buckler saying "IONO" when the Globe & Mail asked her about a declined invitation from the PMO to organizers in Toronto.

I hope Harper goes to prove me wrong. The Tories and his supporters will (here's another pre-emptive volley) say what is he going to accomplish by going? But if they know even just one of the scores of Canadians who have died from this disease they'll understand the symbolism for victim's families.

Anonymous said...

The homophobic right-wingers believe that AIDS is a gay problem. These people are very uninformed as you may detect from their blogs. This is an international pandemic. People get AIDS - some because their gay, some because of, say, blood transfusions, some babies born with it.

This is an internation health issue - not a religious issue.

Sorry folks, I can't help it - Harper is an "a...hole". You can't strategise AIDS for votes I guess.