The minister making the UN move faster

Mitchel Raphael on the minister making the UN move faster
Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

Canada fights for girls

The purpose of Plan International’s “Because I am a Girl” campaign is to champion girls in the developing world, ensuring they have access to education and food as well as advocating for their physical safety and basic human rights. Plan Canada and Plan U.K. have been pushing to get an International Day of the Girl recognized at the UN; they’ve found a strong ally in Rona Ambrose, minister for status of women. She was moved by the stories of youth representatives from developing countries after asking them tough questions such as why the day was needed when there is already International Women’s Day. The answers included female feticide, preferential feeding of boys, and higher HIV transmission rates. Ambrose is helping to navigate the resolution through the UN, building support among nations including Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Ambrose “is a force,” says Plan Canada CEO Rosemary McCarney. “She’s absolutely the champion on this. It’s quite impressive how fast this is happening from last year.”

Last month, Canada’s mission at the UN held a reception hosted by Ambrose. Fifty UN ambassadors attended and Ambrose worked the room, says McCarney. Now the resolution is an official initiative of the Canadian government, with opposition support. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has given Ambrose his support to work the resolution through. McCarney says another key supporter of the initiative is Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth, who brought other senators on board. McCarney says the UN vote should happen sometime in December.

MP trains like cage fighter

Keeping physically active on the Hill can be difficult with platters of temptations on offer at the endless receptions. Toronto rookie MP Ted Opitz uses to find daily workouts. The site notes that its routines can be used for everyone, including “elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters.” Opitz served in the Canadian Army Reserves for 33 years, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

An African-Canadian war memorial?

Ontario Conservative Sen. Don Meredith hosted a special ceremony on the eve of Remembrance Day to pay tribute to the African-Canadians and West Indians who served and sacrificed with the Canadian Forces. The ceremony was held on the downtown Toronto campus of Ryerson University. The university’s president, Sheldon Levy, played host and stated to Meredith at the ceremony that “if you had chosen someone else, I would have written you a letter.” Several moving speeches included one by Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Junor, who noted there was a time when black soldiers were told they would not be able to wear kilts. Junor would go on to become the first black regimental sergeant major for the Toronto Scottish Regiment. Meredith hopes this will become an annual event and hopes to create a permanent memorial in Ottawa to mark the service of African-Canadians and, in particular, Able Seaman William Hall, the first Nova Scotian and the first black Canadian awarded the Victoria Cross for valour. In 2010, Hall was commemorated on a stamp by Canada Post. Meredith says he already has opposition support for a memorial.

Former Greek PM’s double on the Hill

As was reported previously in Capital Diary, several well-known MPs such as Liberal Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister John Baird have look-alikes. Trudeau has one in the capital while Baird has one in New Brunswick. Word on the Hill recently was to look to Greece to find a look-alike for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. It is none other than beleaguered former Greek prime minister George Papandreou.