Friday, June 25, 2010

Billion by Billion

I've kept my mouth shut so far. I was saddened when the controversy blew up a month or so ago. I was angered once again by the extent to which our current government is out of touch with the beliefs and priorities of the people it's supposed to be representing. I was annoyed by how the Prime Minister's stubborn-headed truculence turned an admirable and worthy goal into a misogynist case of paternalism. I hated-hated-hated the sight of the American Secretary of State defending a woman's right to choose against the Canadian government. Bravo for the USA to have responsible government again, but up here? Suddenly we have the PM arrogantly reintroducing abortion into the Canadian political agenda and then telling his enemies not to do the same. The official position of the Conservative Party of Canada appears to be that a woman's right to choose should be restricted to citizens of first-world countries. The Prime Minister promised wads of Canadian taxpayer money in tied aid, and the ugliest of tied aid imaginable. He used his power, obtained with the support of only one in three Canadian voters, to tell women of the poor world what we would help them out only if they gave up their reproductive rights. Sickening. Despicable. And it represents just another way that Canada's one-time admirable public image worldwide has progressively been damaged by the Harper Conservatives.

So anyway, today is apparently his big day. In Huntsville, he's meant to roll out $1,100,000,000 to fund maternal health. Presumably to dainty applause and pats on the back. It's tough to know what it really means: I know a lot of money pledged doesn't ever actually get out there, or if so, it does years later. I know that we'll have no say in where it goes or how it's spent, and I know we'll probably never really know for sure. It won't help women access safe abortions. That's a pity and almost a crime.

Still, it's a good amount of money. It's, what? 300 dollars or so per Canadian citizen? Good money indeed. And I hope it helps people. It's also, by coincidence, pretty much the same amount of money the government has spent hosting these summits. That's also 300 dollars per person. I hope that helps people too, though... well, it's really, really tough not to be cynical about all this.

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