On January 7 Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs issued a news release with the heading Canada leading Fight to Eradicate Polio in Pakistan. That headline trumpeting Canada's leadership role was then splashed across news sites and blogs from coast to coast.
Too bad it isn't true.
News sites from Pakistan had a more nuanced story. The headline at The News reads Canada offers $20 million for Polio Plus initiative. No hint of Canada's leadership role in that title.
At DAWN.com, Pakistans biggest English language news source, the headline is Canada contributes $20m to polio eradication. That doesn't sound like we're leading anything either.
At Vaccine News Daily, a US based industry news site, we are told Canada supports battle against polio in Pakistan. We've gone from "leading" to "supporting".
Information available at the Polio Eradication Initiative's own website indicates that the Pakistan program costs about $100 million per year. Giving $20 million over three years or something in the range of 6-7% of the budget, is a very lovely gesture, but it is not leadership.
One could argue that in a country that spends more than that on the PMO, a country whose Prime Minister spent well over a million dollars shipping two armoured limos to India for a brief visit, a country that had $350 millions to spare for the campaign to smash Libya, seven million dollars a year to eradicate polio in Pakistan isn't really such a big deal.
And it is most definitely not "leadership."
So why does the Harper gang insist on spinning it that way?