Musician and activist Bob Geldof was surprised to learn that hunger exists in the province of Manitoba during a visit to Winnipeg Wednesday.
The man who gave the world Live Aid and I Don't Like Mondays was in Winnipeg to accept a humanitarian award, the St. Boniface Hospital and Research Foundation's International Award.
Early in the day, Geldof was briefed by local activists, some of whom told him about poverty in Manitoba.
"It's just the last thing I would expect — to arrive and say there's a group dealing with hunger in Manitoba," he told CBC News.
"This is cornflake country, you know. I mean, wild … hunger in Manitoba. I mean, wow. Why?"
At a news conference at a hospital on Wednesday afternoon, Geldof said the global economic crisis should not be used as an excuse to cut aid to the world's poorest countries.
He spoke of the widespread hunger in Africa and said it's short-sighted for governments to cut the little aid they give to Africa.
Geldof, an Irish singer who found fame with the group Boomtown Rats, also weighed in on the turmoil taking place on Parliament Hill.
"You know, it's good, normal democratic politics, and that's what we'd expect out of Canada," he said.
"The thing is ... the issue that I know about, and so if you don't mind, I'll just stick to that, is what you do with regard to Africa. And I don't think it factors hugely in domestic politics at the moment. Whatever government is in power, we will try to work with."
Geldof participated in Band Aid and Live Aid and since the 1990s has directed most of his humanitarian efforts at Africa.
"It's ridiculous, you know? I'm sort of a half-assed party pop singer, you know," he said. "And next minute, these giants of science and the medical world say, 'Okay, Geldof, you can have our thing, but pitch up'."
While on a tour of a hospital, Geldof seemed particularly interested in the research going on into memory and Alzheimer's disease.
He said that hit home for him because just weeks ago his children's godmother died of complications from Alzheimer's.
The International Award comes with a $100,000 cash prize, which Geldof said would go to covering his expenses for humanitarian work.
Dr. Michel Tetreault, president and CEO of St. Boniface Hospital, said the award recognized Geldof's work in the Third World.
"We honour people like him because of the contribution he made to the most poor and vulnerable of our society. That's part of what we do," Tetreault said.
Geldof is to receive the award Wednesday evening at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.