Election 2004: Foreign AIDS Spending (Episode #2)

Welcome to the second episode. I know this one is likely to be a touchy subject for many of you, but here are my thoughts on government and spending money on AIDS drugs and treatment in poor countries.

Basically, my opinion boils down to this – don’t waste money on AIDS overseas. Now I agree that some money should be spent on AIDS research, that is, finding a cure or proper treatment. However, I think that money only needs to be spent at home. Pay our doctors and scientists to work on finding a cure. It is beyond me how spending taxpayers money on AIDS overseas delivers any benefit back to us. Lets say we cure them of AIDS, then what? They are still poor. They still live in dirty, inadequate housing. They still don’t have clean water. (1) If they don’t die from AIDS, they will likely die from something else anyways. That’s harsh, but that’s reality.

Instead of government spending all this money in poor countries, why not lobby to create more organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? They are rich people, who will never be able to spend all the money they have. In their short four year history (founded January 2000), the foundation has awarded grants totaling $3,648,344,041 USD on Global Health alone (2). They also donate to Education, a Global Library Program, and more. There are MANY more people who could do something similar (albeit in smaller amounts).

When we talk about giving back to society, that’s the example I think we need to follow. I know the world isn’t perfect, and not all the wealthy want to share, but its something to strive for. Instead of stealing from the average (Canadian taxpayers) to give to the poor, why not have the rich donate to the poor? I can tell you with complete honesty that I would rather see the Canadian government spend money on hospitals in my city than on poor countries around the world. Screw our “international position” for once. Look out for #1!

With that, let’s see how our political parties fare:

Liberal Partyhttp://www.liberal.ca
According to Martin’s announced platform, his Liberal government would “dedicate $100 million – fully half the funding required by the World Health Organization” for the WHO’s plan to ensure 3 million people suffering from AIDS receive treatment by 2005. Additionally, the Liberals plan to increase their contribution to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by $70 million. Total cost? $170 million dollars. Why do we have to contribute half? Are the other 190 countries in the UN not capable of doing their part?

Let’s compare that to Martin’s plan for health care at home. The platform website includes eleven paragraphs about health care in Canada, yet only the last one offers any sort of financial figures (granted they have a graph showing that health care spending has gone up over time – duh it should as we grow in numbers and the population ages). The Liberals say they “have already committed $37 billion in new money over five years from 2003-04.” They go on to say that they will “do more”. How about taking even HALF of that astronomical amount being spent on AIDS elsewhere and putting it into our health care system? Comparatively, $170 million is nothing against $37 billion, but when benefit is already so hard to come by, why spend any of it elsewhere?
Awarded: 1 Point

Conservative Partyhttp://www.conservative.ca/
Harper’s platform is very similar to the Liberals in terms of health care spending at home. The party is committed to implementing the Health Accord which consists of $36.8 billion in new funding. One thing I noticed that I find interesting is that the Conservatives plan to clear the drug approval backlog and bring drug approval times in line with the US. I think that is good for everyone.

Their platform does not mention spending on AIDS anywhere. The only reference I was able to find is that the Conservatives will support “patent reform to allow low-cost generic drugs to be sold in Africa for the relief of AIDS and other epidemics.” Sounds good to me as long as the Canadian government doesn’t make up the difference.
Awarded: 3 Points

The NDP platform for health care at home is a little different than the first two. Layton’s NDP plans to implement the Romanow plan and pay 25% of provincial health care costs within two years. Another interesting part of the platform is that they plan to outlaw the practice of “evergreening” prescription drugs that delay the availability of cheaper, generic drugs. No where in the platform is the Health Accord mentioned.

On the AIDS front, the NDP plan to, like the Conservatives, make generic drugs available to Africa and developing countries. Like the Liberals, the NDP platform calls for a tripling of existing funding for the Global Fund for AIDS. That will bring spending for the fund to roughly $105 million.
Awarded: 1 Points

Bloc Québécoishttp://www.bloc.org/
Okay as you probably know, I don’t speak French fluently, let alone read or write it. Armed with a translator however, searching their PDF platform, I was able to determine no references to either the Health Accord or the Romanow Report.

All I was able to understand from their section on International Aid, excuse me, L’aide internationale, is that the Bloc plans to increase the percentage of GDP spent on foreign aid. Specifically they mention nutrition, child welfare, and AIDS.
Awarded: 0 Points

Green Partyhttp://www.greenparty.ca/
Similar to the NDP, the Green Party health plan includes implementing the Romanow Report. They also have the best platform site in my opinion, as it includes a handy search box! The NDP uses PDF so you can search it, but PDF is too slow for my tastes. Another interesting aspect of their health care plan is that they plan to fund public pharmaceutical research.

Using the wonderful search feature, I found no references to AIDS. Assuming they are more like to tell you if they are spending money on something rather than NOT spending money on something, I think we can assume the Green Party won’t waste money on AIDS overseas.
Awarded: 3 Points

So there you have it! This second episode is more in-depth than the first one, and covers a topic that has always been a sticking point for me. I just don’t know why Canada has to be the country that looks after the rest of the world. Until the next episode, here are the current standings:

  1. Green Party – 6 points
  2. Conservatives – 5 points
  3. Liberal Party – 4 points
  4. NDP – 1 point
  5. Bloc Québécois – 0 points

1: Impact of Poverty on AIDS in Africa
2: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
3: Information under each party heading found from their respective websites.

To see my other articles in this series, look here.

The Simpsons: 742 Evergreen Terrace!

Have you ever wondered what a map of Springfield looks like? Well today I came across this very large and extremely detailed map! Don’t you think the Kiwk-E-Mart seems lonely? Lots of good stuff, like the “Three Seasons Motel” and the “Pay & Park & Pay”. Enjoy 🙂

If the image doesn’t appear, you can get to it here.

Read: Scott Hanselman’s Weblog

REVIEW: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I just finished reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown the other day, and it was excellent. It’s also #1 in the Amazon.ca Sales Ranking! Anyway, this is my quick review of the book, no real spoilers so feel free to read. First, here is what the book is about (from Amazon.ca):

A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ. The victim is a high-ranking agent of this ancient society who, in the moments before his death, manages to leave gruesome clues at the scene that only his daughter, noted cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle. The duo become both suspects and detectives searching for not only Neveu’s father’s murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect. Mere steps ahead of the authorities and the deadly competition, the mystery leads Neveu and Langdon on a breathless flight through France, England, and history itself.

Now I know what you’re thinking, what is Mack doing reading a book about religion! Well, seems I really DO read a variety of things and am not totally ignorant about the topic. This book was a superb read, very entertaining. Yet at the same time, quite educational! Brown succeeds in blending fact and fiction to make history enjoyable.

And there are a lot of facts in this book! On his website, Dan Brown explains how much of the novel is true – namely, the artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals. That is what made the book most interesting to me; that so much of it was true! It was definitely interesting to read about an actual ancient secret society that actually performed the rituals described and followed the beliefs explored in the book. I suppose I would be lying if I said I liked the theory about our modern day religions and where they came from.

I definitely suggest you read this book – its wonderful! And if you are really keen, Brown has even posted a partial bibliography of titles on the topic. Anyone else read this book yet? I want to discuss it with someone 🙂

The Thin Blue Line

Not to take anything away from Tampa winning the cup, but I had an MRI today (for Brock‘s job). It was an interesting experience! I called this post the thin blue line, because there is one that runs up the center of the inside of the machine. That and the fact that at times it sounds like machine guns going off 🙂

It was painless, not too long, and really not that uncomfortable (unless you are afraid of enclosed places). It was also neat because there is a little mirror inside so that you can see out. Good job Brock 🙂

Check out the pictures!


After two periods of superb hockey and one terribly dirty and horribly officiated third, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 to earn their first franchise Stanely Cup! For more on the game, visit SportsGuru.

Vincent Lecavalier was awesome in this game, running circles around the Flames. The Bulin Wall was big when he had to be. And DAVE ANDREYCHUK has finally won a Cup after 22 seasons. Fedotenko had two goals tonight. Richards was dangerous as always. The first two periods were ALL Tampa Bay.

The third period was terrible. A call that was absolute bullshit (since when is two guys colliding a penalty for either one!?) gave Calgary a powerplay and they scored to get within one. Yet, as we have seen before, Calgary got dirty and took a penalty in the last minute of the game, after which Iginla did his famous yapping. And it was dirty, stick up in the face, in the corner, at an awkward angle when someone already had him covered. Of course, Iginila had nothing again – no goals, no shots, no assists, absolutely dick-all. It’s a damn good thing that Brad Richards was named MVP, as Iginla (the other favorite) clearly did not earn it.

So Tampa are the new champs. There are more Canadians on their roster than on Calgary. They finished second overall in the regular season. They played as a TEAM, everyone contributing when they had to, and obviously earned their win. I am a proud Canadian, but I first and foremost want fair play. Tampa won fair and square (and without any dirty play I might add). Saying the Cup belongs in Canada because its a Canadian game is like saying no one should win the World Cup except Brazil. Or that the Blue Jays should never have won the World Series. It simply doesn’t fly.

Oh, and I am an Edmonton Oiler fan. Thus I cannot cheer for Calgary. If you can’t understand that, you aren’t a true Edmonton fan. Go ask a Montreal fan about cheering for Toronto. You’ll get the same thing if they are a true Habs fan. This has nothing to do with not cheering for Canada.

The forecast was LIGHTNING and they delivered!! TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING ARE THE NEW CHAMPS!

[UPDATE: Thanks to SportsGuru for pointing out that Tampa actually finished second in the regular season, three points behind Detroit.]

Super Size Me!

I went to see the documentary Super Size Me today with Sharon. It was really great, and I definitely recommend it to everyone. I know that I will never stop eating McDonald’s completely, but this movie will definitely make you think twice.

Morgan Spurlock is the interesting fellow who decides to go on the McDiet. Three meals a day for thirty days he eats only McDonalds. He looks like a regular guy, but at the beginning you find out his health is superb. You know, of course, that his health will deteriorate, but you have to watch the movie to see just how bad it is. It’s really astounding.

After the movie it was suppertime, and guess where we went? NOT McDonalds! We had pasta and then went for coffee, but the movie kind of makes you lose your appetite. If you get the chance, watch this movie!

One other thing to note, I was underdressed compared to Sharon, BUT I got lots of comments on my “Have a sister?” shirt! Turns out its an excellent conversation starter for people 🙂


Game 6 was a dandy as Sportsguru will tell you, but Tampa Bay prevailed and we are going to game seven! It was a very tense game, but the end result is all that matters 🙂

The movie (Day After Tomorrow) wasn’t all that bad either. I walked out of the theatre half expecting snow. In fact, it was actually quite humorous in places!

Now, I propose we stage a flag burning downtown after the game Monday night, where Oiler fans who are cheering for Calgary can redeem themselves by taking those stupid car flags and burning them. What do you think? Damn traitors shouldn’t get off scott-free!


Gillette’s M3Power

Anyone seen the commercials for Gillette‘s new razor, the M3Power? Looked like a damn cool “shaving system” so picked one up to try. Now, for a device that contains 36 patents I expect nothing less than the “World’s Best Shave”.

I must say, its a damn cool razor. Obviously, its not going to be better than the fancy self-cleaning, self-sharpening, self-coffee-pouring electric razors you can get, but for a normal razor, its damn sweet. And really its not that normal.

It’s green and silver, awesome. It has an on/off switch, awesome. It takes less strokes, awesome. It has advanced lubricated strips with Vitamin E and Aloe, awesome. It uses micro-pulses to stimulate hair away from skin, awesome. It was launched like a movie, awesome. But why do I like this razor? Simple. I am a guy, and this is a gadget 🙂

RE: NHL pulls Fraser, Watson from Game 6

Don’t mean to trespass on SportsGuru’s turf, but this one irks me. From TSN:

Sources told TSN the league has decided referees Kerry Fraser and Brad Watson, who officiated Game 4 in Calgary, will not handle Game 6 at the Saddledome. [Read Full Story

And in the comments, this one from CAULFIELD14 hits the nail bang on the head:

This is rediculous [sic]. It drives me nuts how a loss is anyone’s fault but the players. Fraser, love him or hate him, has done a great job in this league for 30+ years. Somehow it’s his fault TB scored on a powerplay in the opening minutes? And Watson (a good Regina kid) makes the proper boarding major call and he get pulled from game 6? Why doesn’t someone blame Neiminen for his actions? No one blamed Walkom or LaRue for calling Bertuzzi’s hit? Neiminen takes stupid penalties all the time (his 3 minors vs VAN, game 1). The referees are assigned the finals based on PERFOMANCE. They are consumate professionals, and get the calls right 99% of the time, even when they are against Calgary.

It’s shaping up to be a memorable, if controversial, series! Why do I get the feeling that if Calgary loses on Saturday, Sutter will come out and complain about the referees being changed?

Read: TSN