Stephen Lewis, former Ontario NDP leader and former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, had CUPE delegates on their feet Monday afternoon with an address that focused on the growing tuberculosis crisis in Nunavut.
The special guest speaker—a surprise addition to the convention agenda—was given a warm, family welcome.
Lewis called on CUPE to get engaged in the fight against the spread of tuberculosis in Canada’s North. “There are 35,000 people living in Nunavut. Surely it is within the capacity of a country like Canada to respond in a compassionate and principled fashion and that is what is missing,” said Lewis.
“It is up to Justin Trudeau, and he cannot go to the United Nations and make these sonorous speeches which are, in terms of implementation, empty.”
Lewis also thanked CUPE for its longstanding support of AIDS-Free World Canada, which works to tackle the social inequalities that create the conditions for the spread of HIV. “We are truly indebted to you,” Lewis concluded. “We couldn’t be doing the work we do without you. Thank you immensely.”