Flying And Blogging

I’m actually writing this from the window seat of Porter Airlines Flight 250, flying from Halifax to Toronto via Ottawa. Porter is a relatively new airline which flies from Toronto’s City Centre Airport which makes it ridiculously more convenient than any of our other airlines for someone like me making a quick journey to Ontario. If you’ve ever flown into Toronto, you’ll know that Lester B. Pearson International Airport is massive, insanely busy, and conveniently located a long way from the city without much for public transportation connections. That’s being improved. But it’s not there yet. By contrast, Porter lands a short ferry and shuttle bus ride from downtown Toronto and Union Station. And it’s all business class basically, for only a small premium over other carriers.

Flying gives me the relatively rare privilege of actually reading a newspaper, something I don’t do much since I have an iPhone that feeds me news from all over the world. With no interwebs in the skies (not here anyhow), I’m sent back to this quaint but effective old fashioned means of communication.

Both today’s Globe & Mail and Chronicle Herald are running pieces about the G8 summit that wrapped up in Halifax this week. At the centre of the story is the decision by Canada’s increasing lackluster government that foreign aid focused on maternal health should not – will not – include funding for abortions. This is a laughably hypocritical position in a country where free access to abortion is the law, and an issue no sane politician would ever try to touch. The idea of trying to deny that access to safe abortions is vital to maternal health to me is absolutely nonsense, though it seems in Parliament to be divisive as well as among Canadians.

The most interesting piece I’ve seen is Judith Timson’s in today’s G&M. She makes a pretty decent proposition about a sort of neo-colonialism that’s unfolding through foreign aid – both by governments and NGOs. The insidious example of evangelical organizations like the so-called “C Street Family” supporting draconian and disgusting persecution of homosexuals in Uganda comes to mind immediately.

It starts to look like where the religious right cannot succeed in their home countries they feel they should try in other countries. I saw this in the much vaunted PEPFAR nonsense – Bush’s huge gift to fighting AIDS in Africa which was mainly a subsidy to pharmaceutical manufacturers and a sort of patronage system for evangelical organizations. Their anti-AIDS efforts focused around the ridiculous “abstinence-only” education idea, and the foolhardy idea that condoms were really only necessary for truckers and prostitutes. Great education that is.

Timson also points out that what should have been a pretty simple political undertaking has basically been turned into a circus because of Canada’s position which is totally out of step with the rest of the world. While they repeated make the statement (correctly) that Canadians have no interest in any sort of debate about abortion, they seem to bumble into these sorts of gaffes often.

I really shouldn’t be surprised by this. The poisonous influence of evangelical nutcases on the Conservative Party of Canada is one of the most important reasons I tore up my membership card and stopped supporting them. The presence of people who want to inject government sanction into social issues in which government ought not to have a role is not something I’d go for.

While this scenario is I guess nothing new, the fact that it makes Harper and his ministers like Bev Oda look like fools as they struggle to answer questions about the government’s positions might hopefully force the Conservatives to realize that it is only the total ineptitude of the official opposition that keeps them in office, and that they perhaps should focus on less incendiary issues.

Landing in Ottawa just as I finish this so I can post it, perhaps another post between Ottawa & Toronto?

2 comments so far

  1. Domsisti on

    Thanks for this. I’m with you. Foreign aid that includes moralistic strings is nothing more than coercion. It s not a genuine gift or charity. It aims at oppression.

  2. warriorbanker on

    Foreign aid in general is a coercive tool, it’s not actually altruistic, ever. It’s a form of subsidy to the donor nation’s industries more often than not. This, however, verges on the ridiculous, particularly given the fact that Canada winds up totally out of step with the rest of the world.

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