Canadian Prime Minister Martin To Announce Country Will Double to $50M FY 2005-2006 Donation to Global Fund
The Canadian government on Wednesday is expected to announce it will double its contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to more than $50 million for fiscal year 2005-2006, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Fagan/Nolen, Globe and Mail, 5/12). The announcement comes just two days after Prime Minister Paul Martin announced a $72 million contribution to the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative, which aims to treat three million people in the developing world with antiretroviral drugs by 2005 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/11). In addition, the Senate this week is expected to approve a bill (C-9) that would amend the country's patent laws to permit the government to order the override of patents to allow certain pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce and export generic drugs -- including antiretroviral drugs -- for use in developing countries. "It is all coming together in a nice package," an unnamed official said, adding, "This is what it means to focus" (Globe and Mail, 5/12). Irish rock star Bono, who founded the debt, AIDS and trade organization DATA, is scheduled to attend the symposium at which the funding announcement is to be made. The "highly political event," which comes close to a general election, will lend Bono's "name and celebrity to Martin's bid to present himself to Canadian voters as a leader in touch with youth and global good who follows through on his promises," according to the Toronto Star. Bono in a press release welcomed the funding increases, saying, "Wow. A politician who doesn't break his promises. This is real leadership" (Delacourt, Toronto Star, 5/12). U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis, who is Canadian, said that the Martin government has "moved miles" in mobilizing a serious response to the epidemic (Globe and Mail, 5/12).
Although some people will call Martin's HIV/AIDS funding increases a "cynical election ploy, designed to soften [his] image," such skepticism should be "cast aside," a National Post editorial says. There is little "partisan political advantage to be gleaned from such an announcement," and AIDS in Africa is "simply not the kind of issue that governments are elected on," the editorial says. In addition, AIDS advocates are not a particularly "potent force" in the country, the editorial says. Therefore, Canadians should "embrace [the] announcement," which is "remarkable both for its humanity and for its practicality," the editorial concludes (National Post, 5/12).