3 min

Dealing with Uganda – in private!

During his Commonwealth summit meeting, Harper met with Her Majesty and announced that she will be visiting Canada next summer. Yay! And guess what else? She’ll be here in Ottawa for Canada Day! How awesome is that?

Apparently they talked a lot about climate change and the Copenhagen conference, as many Commonwealth nations are going to feel the brunt of climate change. As for the Uganda situation, Harper had a private talking to with the Ugandan president, but nothing public. Apparently so did UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Great – so it’s something that can’t be mentioned in polite company? Big fail.

Harper, however, then decided that he hadn’t quite reached his jackass quota for the day, and when visiting the HMCS Quebec – at Port-of-Spain to assist in the summit security – he decided to take the opportunity to accuse the opposition of smearing the Forces by looking into the Afghan detainee issue. Ignatieff quickly sent out a written statement to denounce Harper’s comments, calling them “beneath the office” – and he’s not wrong. This issue has never been about accusing our troops of wrongdoing, but has always been framed by all sides as trying to protect them from government mismanagement of the detainee issue. That Harper decided to use the Forces as the shield to hide behind is pretty low.

On that same topic, Peter MacKay has reversed himself yet again, and now says he was aware of the conditions in Afghan prisons as soon as he took office. This tactic is called trying to shift the blame to the Liberals, who started the old detainee transfer process in the wake of American prisoner abuse scandals and while our troops were still in Kabul and not Kandahar, so prisoner transfers were few and far between. But hey, anything to avoid taking responsibility, right?

Maybe it’s the geek in me, but I though it was pretty awesome that Mauril Bélnger used his Member’s Statement on Friday to pay tribute to the Grand Dame of Canadian science fiction, Phyllis Gotlieb.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis used her statement to urge members to vote for Bill C-393 and see CAMR reformed.

Mr. Speaker, night has already fallen in much of Africa. Another day has passed and another 14,000 people have died needlessly from infectious diseases for which medicine is readily available, just not for them.
It is mostly grandmothers who care for the dying and who are left to piece together the shattered lives that remain. They tell us through the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, Canadian women devoting incredible energy in solidarity with their African sisters, that Canada's access to medicines regime, which was supposed to make more drugs available, is not working.
UNICEF, Oxfam, Canadian Crossroads International, Results Canada and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network all agree and have called for the changes set out in my private member's Bill C-393. I urge all members to vote for this bill to ensure that we fix Canada's access to medicines regime and get Canadian drugs moving to save lives.

The final hour of debate on that bill was held on Friday, and it is due to be voted on for Second Reading on Wednesday. The Liberals are split on the issue – and there are only a few Conservatives who see the merit in it. This is going to be a tough one.

Elsewhere, despite its constant desire to apologise to ethno-cultural communities for past government actions against them, this government feels that Italian-Canadians don’t deserve the same treatment for their internment in World War II. Probably because they don’t feel they can mine votes there, but that might sound cynical.

The CBC has a couple of great pieces that you should read. The first is the way that the government has been withholding key reports that would be very useful for the study of crime bills – and they release the reports once it’s too late for the opposition to use them. Because it’s really not all one big game or anything. (Funnily enough, the Toronto Star also details how the “open and transparent” Conservatives have also quietly dumped the outspoken head of the RCMP’s watchdog agency). The other CBC piece is a fairly in-depth piece on those troublesome ten percenters, which puts a lot of things into perspective.
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