Monday, April 11, 2011

Failed HIV project only 'giant photo-op' for Harper

HIV project Harper signed with Bill Gates fizzled soon after

The Toronto Star: A $139-million project to fight HIV-AIDS, launched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a glitzy photo-op with Microsoft's Bill Gates, began to flounder within months, says an internal report... 'Very significant delays... have put into question the extent to which the initiative can achieve the expected results within the remaining time frame,' says the report, completed last August for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The $62,000 study, commissioned from Goss Gilroy Inc. consultants, examined the effectiveness of the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative, created with great fanfare four years ago. A copy of the document was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, after a five-month delay.

The Prime Minister won headlines across Canada when he announced the project on February 20, 2007, smiling Bill Gates at his side.. But the report says the grand plans quickly became entangled in a cat's cradle of red tape... The most high-profile was a decision not to proceed with the pilot facility to produce HIV vaccine in Canada...

Stakeholder support for the facility seriously eroded in September 2007 when an international trial of a promising HIV vaccine was cancelled.. The vaccine was found to be ineffective. Program officials and others told Goss Gilroy that the unexpected cancellation immediately raised red flags about the proposed Canadian facility -- but few had the appetite to question in so soon after Harper's photo-op...

'A great deal of time, effort and money were wasted on a giant photo-op for the prime minister, says Terry Duguid, who headed a Winnipeg-based consortium that spent $750,000 applying to operate the pilot facility. 'It was just incompetence of the highest order... I think Canada's reputation has taken a big hit.'
Image source here.