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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

stephen lewis on saturday

This past Saturday, we attended the Muttart Foundation's seminar with Mr. Stephen Lewis at the Citadel Theatre. It was a great lecture. Mr. Lewis, for those of you who aren't familiar with him, is the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and the former Canadian Ambassador to the U.N. (he was also an Ontario MPP and leader of the Ontario NDP from 1970-78).

Mr. Lewis is also part of what could only be called 'Canada's Social Democratic Dynasty' (and that is what we are calling it), which boasts a fairly impressive pedigree of Canadian celebrity socialists. Mr. Lewis' father was David Lewis, who led the federal NDP in a coalition with the Trudeau Liberals from 1972 to 1974, and Mr. (Stephen) Lewis' son is Avi Lewis, who's well known as the former host of CBC's CounterSpin who is also married to anti-globalization activist and author, Ms. Naomi Klein.

We last saw Mr. Lewis speak in Ottawa two years ago and he was equally as amazing this time.

Along with some personal tidbits about one Mr. Brian Mulroney and a certain upcoming book, Lewis' talk focused on the positive and not so positive elements of the United Nations in the wake of it's 60th anniversary, and the work he does with the U.N. and various NGO's in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. Lewis also had some fairly harsh words for the current Liberal government's lack of real committment to reaching the 0.7% GDP level of foreign aid to developing countries, even though the Pearson Liberals were one of the first advocates of this goal.

We would be blowing smoke if we said his personal stories of his visits to Africa didn't cause us to shed a tear or two during his lecture. What amazes us the most about Mr. Lewis is his persistence, strength, and passion for humanitarianism. After all the political junk and stonewalling he has put up with from various politicians, agencies, and governments, he remains an impassioned man. You could feel it. It's inspirational.

Two of the many agencies he mentioned during his lecture, which we recommend you check out, are the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Bill Clinton Foundation, both which conduct a large amount of work in HIV/AIDS stricken areas of the world.


Idealistic Pragmatist said...

He was marvelous, wasn't he? What a tremendous man.

And how fun to know that a fellow blogger was there as well.

daveberta said...

glad you enjoyed it as well. He is simply amazing.

Steve said...

I was there as well, as Daveberta well knows.

One note, though: 1972 to 1974 wasn't a coalition government any more than the current one is. It was a Liberal government, that stayed afloat with NDP votes.

daveberta said...

"One note, though: 1972 to 1974 wasn't a coalition government any more than the current one is. It was a Liberal government, that stayed afloat with NDP votes."

true dat. I think it all depends on your definition of coalition.

holtopia said...

I think we should dispense with the British monarchy and install Shirley Douglas as our sovereign.

daveberta said...

that was random. but we can't say we don't agree...

Nastyboy said...

I amire Mr. Lewis for his commitment to Africa, but he's no Bono. I mean c'mon, he doesn't even have one gold record. However,

I lost some respect for him over his report on the Rwandan genocide. It was basically a UN apologist piece, blaming the whole thing on usual dipper whipping boys for everything evil in the world, the US and the Catholic Church.To be fair I only read excerps, not the whole thing.

Africa has been a cause of mine before Bono made it cool. I'll be donating my $400 to the One campain.