During a visit to Nova Scotia yesterday, [Health Minister] Tony Clement said activists and "so-called experts" had started to skew the dialogue towards grandstanding political demands during the weeklong gathering in Toronto.
"That conference in our view was becoming a place where you couldn't have a rational discussion,'' he said in an interview.
"It wasn't only the Canadian context. There was a delegate who demanded the resignation of the South African health minister. It was really becoming a very politicized conference..."
I think the issue comes down to control. The Harperites like to control the agenda, stay in the spotlight, keep the discussion on their terms. Harper doesn't want to be upstaged by people like Clinton and Gates, who (horrors) might even have a different perspective. He doesn't want to expose himself to a large group of committed professionals and activists who are anything but his "base".
Re Clement's comment on delegates attacking South Africa, I was lucky to hear Stephen Lewis's speech at the conference, and Lewis blasted South Africa's record on AIDS as by far the worst in Africa. As the UN special envoy on AIDS in Africa, Lewis is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on the subject. Stephen Lewis understands, even though Harper and Clement evidently do not, that AIDS prevention is about a lot more than medical science.