Amnesty International released a report today condemning Canada for failing to live up to its reputation (in AI’s eyes) as a worldwide leader in human rights promotion. (Full report is available as a PDF here.) Among the complaints in the report is that Ottawa has cut funding for feminist NGOs and that the Harper government’s G8 maternal health initiative (the so-called Muskoka Initiative) did not fund abortion. AI offers tepid applause for raising the neglected issue of maternal health (“the Muskoka Initiative could make a significant contribution to boosting progress towards achieving MDG 5*”), but argued that without being “firmly grounded in a sexual and reproductive rights framework,” it risks failure. AI admits that reproductive rights (read: abortion and contraception) is “central to making real and sustainable progress in addressing maternal mortality.” AI calls for the Muskoka Initiative to include abortion. Of course, Amnesty International is a pro-abortion outfit, but how partisan of them to release a report on domestic policy on funding priorities and in middle of an election campaign. Indeed, it seems that the timing was not coincidental and that AI would not mind seeing Stephen Harper’s Conservatives defeated: “As Canadians go to the polls they have a crucial opportunity to reflect on these fundamental issues.”
* MDG 5 is the UN’s Millennium Development Goal number five which seeks to reduce maternal mortality by 75% between 2000 and 2015, of which there has been little progress. International pro-life groups note that the focus of MDG 5 has been to increase reproductive services including abortion and not improving maternal health.