Dear Prime Minister:
On behalf of the 550,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), I write to register our concern with your decision not to attend the opening of the 16th International AIDS Conference being held in Toronto.
Thousands of delegates have travelled at great cost and effort from more than 120 countries to attend this conference. We can think of no more pressing global issue which might merit your attendance as Prime Minister of Canada than a conference devoted to a disease that has killed 25 million people so far. Conference delegates, media commentators and average Canadians are left to wonder what message you were attempting to convey by refusing to attend this important international gathering being held on our soil.
We note with interest Health Minister Tony Clement’s cancellation of his planned media conference. This suggests that your government has nothing to say or offer on this most important of worldwide pandemics.
We call upon your government to place Canada in the forefront of the fight against the HIV-AIDS pandemic. This could begin at home with an announcement to continue support for Vancouver’s safe drug injection site, which faces closure if you do not renew federal funding. Scientists and medical practitioners from around the world have lauded this initiative. What more appropriate time than now, during the AIDS conference to announce that the Vancouver project will continue to provide much needed service?
The fight against HIV-AIDS is one of the world’s great humanitarian challenges, one in which Canada’s voice is both needed and deserved. Your decision to effectively boycott this conference is inexcusable. Your government’s concrete support for furthering the fight against AIDS is required immediately.
c.c. National Executive Board Members; National Pink Triangle Committee Members; G. Duceppe; William Graham; J. Layton; Libby Davies, NDP Labour Critic