In one of the smaller meetings in the Centre Block, it was shoulder-to-shoulder. When the presentation got underway, there was a bit of electricity in the year.
Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla, flanked by NDP MP Megan Leslie, Conservative MP Lois Brown and Bloc MP Johanne Deshamps, announced the formation of the Parliamentary HIV/AIDS and TB (HAT) caucus – an all-party venture to help the deal with the problems of HIV/AIDS and TB in the world. One of the reasons why TB is a big part of the focus is that it’s one of the leadings killers of people infected with HIV and AIDS in the developing world. There was also a great deal of emphasis paid to the fact that it was four women MPs who were behind this initiative.
HAT had two special guest speakers to kick off the inaugural event – Dr. Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, and Dr. James Orbinski, founder of Dignitas International and former president of Doctors Without Borders.
Despite the fact that the proceedings were interrupted between Dr. Lewis’ and Dr. Orbinski’s presentations for votes in the House, the evening was a resounding success. What was expected to be a small showing and polite applause saw a great many MPs from all parties show up to show their support, including John Baird, Keith Martin, Judy Foote, Glenn Pearson, Chris Charlton, Jean Crowder and Nicole Demers, (and I’m sure another few that I can’t recall off-hand), there were also dignitaries from the WHO that flew in from England and Geneva to attend.