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Lewis lets loose on power brokers

by editor2
August 21st, 2006

TORONTO – In an emotional speech punctuated with sharp barbs against the Harper government, the Bush administration and South Africa, the United Nations special AIDS envoy Stephen Lewis closed the International AIDS Conference yesterday to a prolonged, enthusiastic standing ovation.

Mr. Lewis, whose five-year tenure as special envoy to Africa ends in December, also attacked aid agencies for spending too much money and time on bureaucratic pursuits rather than devoting resources to work that directly benefits HIV/AIDS victims across the world.

“What has to happen,” he said, “is that we place a temporary moratorium on the endless, self-indulgent proliferation of meetings, seminars, roundtables, discussion groups, task forces ad nauseum, plus the production of reports, documents, monographs, statistical data and concentrate every energy at country level.”

Mr. Lewis criticized Stephen Harper’s government for not responding to fears over the future of Vancouver’s safe-injection centre Insite for intravenous drug users. The site’s three-year exemption from federal drug laws expires on Sept. 11 but despite numerous appeals, the government has yet to announce whether it will extend it.

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