The ministerial oral podectomy as a tool (ahem) of development assistance

by Paul Wells

In the House of Commons just now, Bev Oda moved swiftly to remove Lawrence Cannon’s foot from his mouth. A quick transcript:

Bob Rae (L): Last year, the G-8 summit contained words: “Voluntary family planning and sexual and reproductive health.” I’d like to ask the minister of foreigaffairs how is it possible that Canadian foreign policy has been highjacked by the tea partiers on the other side? Taking us away from great traditions and taking us away from the policy that our —that our policy should be consistent with what that government agreed to last year?

The Speaker: The honourable minister of international corporation.

Hon. Bev Oda: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And as the member opposite knows, the G-8 leaders will discuss and chart the way forward to tackle child and maternal health at the upcoming summit. As we’ve been saying all along, we are not closing the door on any options that will save the lives of mothers and children. Including contraception. And as we have been saying all along, we are not opening the abortion debate. Thank you.

Bob Rae: (Voice of translator): Well, you see a total change in the party’s policy. They said yesterday — and today, to the same minister. The minister, in her budget, announced cuts of narly $200 million in funding to the poorest countries, and the most fragile countries. How are those cuts compatible with a policy to take care of women and children in Africa? It’s completely incomprehensible what we’ve just heard.

Hon. Bev Oda: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Speaker, this government knows how to manage its finances. We know that we are in — in Speaker, we know that we are in fact increasing the budget for CIDA for its international assistance, Mr. Speaker. And we’ve been doing that consistently. In fact, we will reach a level of international assistance never reached by any other government before in the history of canada.

Marcel Lussier (BQ) (Voice of translator): Mr. Speaker, less than a year ago the government supported voluntary family planning. Why does it want to block access for contraception to African women? Why are the Conservatives forcing George Bush style doctrines on the world? Speaker, does this government believe in the benefits of contraception?

Hon. Bev Oda: Mr. Speaker let me again be very clear and to reiterate that at the G-8 the leaders will discussing maternal and child health. And in fact, okay, I’ve articulated, there are no doors being closed, even contraception.




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