Mr. Lewis Is On The Ropes
Date: Monday, October 24 2005
I can only imagine what Stephen Lewis has witnessed. All the money in the world will help us believe we are doing something to help this catastrophe but without the intent to see HIV/AIDS eradicated from Africa it will not go away. I believe we are all responsible for the suffering on the planet and Stephen Lewis cannot do this alone.
By MICHAEL VALPY
Saturday, October 22, 2005
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
The scene is the junior common room of the University of Toronto's Massey College. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy to Africa for AIDS, is there to launch his book, Race Against Time, the text of the Massey Lectures he now is delivering in cities across Canada, which subsequently will be broadcast on CBC Radio.
The common room on a mid-October's late afternoon is packed and loud with talk. It is a come-and-be-seen event commensurate with Mr. Lewis's acquired celebrity status, filled with academics, writers, broadcasters, publishers, a thick slice of Toronto intellectual society jammed shoulder-to-shoulder over wine and canapés.
You can't see Stephen Lewis, but you instantly know where he is. He is at the far end of the room behind a wall of students, three, four and five deep, hanging on his every word, all of them holding his book, gazing at him reverentially.
If the bureaucratic establishments of the UN and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. State Department could see this scene -- this man many of them would love to see ousted from his job, being idolized -- it would, as Mr. Lewis might say with his trademark flawless diction, "upset them immensely."
Indeed, there is growing speculation that Mr. Lewis -- African AIDS envoy since 2001 and, before that, deputy executive director of Unicef, Canada's ambassador to the UN and leader of the Ontario NDP -- has upset too many important people immensely, and is on the edge of being sacked.
He himself alludes to that possibility in his book, speculating that some of the things he has said may lead high-level UN officials and politicians to "exact retribution."
He has strongly criticized the U.S. administration and a number of Western and African governments by name -- the equivalent in UN bureaucratic etiquette to being flatulent at a garden party.