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Justin Trudeau launches 2008 AIDS fundraiser

Politicians promote Taste for Life in Ottawa

An Ottawa MP hammered the Conservatives over cuts to AIDS service organizations at the launch of Taste for Life. Afterwards, Quebec Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau spoke about the need to “raise awareness” about the “heartbreak and loss” caused by HIV.

New Democrat MP Paul Dewar, who represents Ed Broadbent’s former riding of Ottawa-Centre, said that 30 percent cuts to groups who work with people living with HIV/AIDS is “not a number I’m proud of.”

“There’s a lot of work to do,” Dewar admits. “But this is about all of us. The least we can do is come out for dinner.”

On Apr 23, restaurants across Ontario will participate in Taste for Life, now in its 10th year. The event takes place a week earlier — on Apr 16 — in Toronto.

Each year, revellers pack dozens of eateries — which range from diners to upscale hotspots — and 25 percent of the bill is donated to local AIDS groups.

Trudeau spoke without notes at the launch.

“Having dinner is a fundamentally communal activity,” he says. “In the same way, Taste for Life brings that on a larger scale.”

Both Trudeau and Dewar were raised in political households in Ottawa. Trudeau, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, spent part of his childhood at 24 Sussex; Dewar is the son of former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar.

Reservations at participating restaurants often fill up early. Dewar bragged that his sister’s restaurant, Savannah Café in Ottawa, is already fully booked.

“If people don’t know about Taste for Life already,” he says. “Please tell them.”

Trudeau thanked Liberal candidate Penny Collenette, a member of another political family, in his introductory remarks. Collenette is the wife of former cabinet minister David Collenette. She will challenge Dewar in the next federal election.

For a list of participating restaurants, check out:
Taste for Life 2008.