Tony Genco pops up at Queen’s Park

Peter Shurman alleges that Tony Genco handed out about $150,000 in bonuses to the the CEO of York Central Hospital and her chief of staff. He allegedly did so in his role as former treasurer and chair of the hospital. Shurman also points out that the CEO that received the bonus from Genco has also donated $1,500 to the McGuinty Liberals. York Central Hospital ran a $4 million deficit last year and an $11 million deficit this year.

In other news: $12 million landed on York Central Hospital’s doorstep yesterday, courtesy of the Ontario Health Minister:

An early Christmas gift was unwrapped at York Central Hospital Tuesday morning as Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long Term Care Dr. Deb Matthews announced $12.1 million in additional operating funding for the health centre.

Liberals on Quebec healthcare

April 8th, 2010, Michael Ignatieff:

To that end [Ignatieff] welcomed the provincial Liberal budget idea of looking into new ways to finance the health-care system — possibly through new fees. He said the provinces have to be allowed to advance ideas on their own.

“We have to be open to letting the provinces experiment within the framework of the Canadian law,” Ignatieff said. “We have to protect universal access to the health system. The government of Quebec knows it.

“I salute the fact it is launching a debate that is important for all Canadians.”

April 7th, 2010, Carolyn Bennett:

The Zombie of Health Care Policy: User Fees

Dr. Bob Evans has called user fees the ‘zombie’ of health care policy – just when you think that the evidence has killed them dead – it rises again. It is like a bad video game…. user fees keep coming back from the dead.

The government of Quebec has said in the budget speech that it will enter into consultations re this user fee proposal. It should be rejected based upon evidence alone.

I am concerned that the budget document states: ‘In that respect, the Canada Health Act should not impede the search for solutions that will ensure long-term funding for our health care system.’

I would interpret that to mean that they KNOW this is OUTSIDE the act …

The backlash in Quebec has begun…. we need all Canadians to educate themselves and immunize themselves against this ‘zombie’ of health care policy. It may like a simple fix but it is bad policy – bad for health outcomes and bad for the solidarity that we have in Canada to help one another when fellow citizens bear the burden of sickness.

UPDATE: Ignatieff flip-flops… April 14th, 2010, after caucus:

Quebec’s proposal to charge $25 for a visit to the doctor would violate the Canada Health Act, according to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff who departed sharply Wednesday from earlier indications that he was not opposed to the idea.

“I want to make it very clear that our party, and I personally, am a passionate defender of the Canada Health Act and we understand that provinces are facing substantial challenges facing the financing of their health care systems but we wanted to say that . . . if the government of any province were to introduce user fees it is our belief that that would be in contravention to the Canada Health Act and we would oppose it.”

A response to Alf Apps’ politicization of H1N1

Alf Apps made the news for emailing this disgraceful letter to a wide distribution list within the Liberal Party. He has been roundly criticized for suggesting that H1N1 may be Prime Minister Harper’s “Hurricane Katrina” and that “Canadians are entitled to wonder if they are being victimized by some clinical cost-benefit analysis premised on the theory that expense could be avoided if demand for the vaccine were suppressed and access to immunization for most was made well nigh impossible.”

I’ve put together the following video as a critique on Apps’ disgusting words. H1N1 is not a game and all parties ought to be working together to ensure supply and manage fears. It is wholly irresponsible to cause panic thus jamming lines with low priority Canadians at the expense of those who need the rationed vaccine first. This is not an issue upon which Apps’ and a handful of Liberals should be scoring cheap political points. When faced with great situations, we ought to have government accountability yes, but we must be wary of those that would unnecessarily stoke fear to drive a partisan agenda.

Let’s get back to work shall we? This video is a admonition of the politicization of H1N1 and only an admonition of the politicization of H1N1. I believe that most Liberals want to help steer Canada through this potential crisis with minimized turbulence. I agree with Brian Lilley’s take on the recent dialogue on H1N1 on Parliament Hill; Ignatieff has been rational and responsible on this issue while members of his caucus and party have not.

UPDATE: Here’s part of a CTV report by Graham Richardson that aired last night that should interest Mr. Apps.

Again, let’s move forward shall we?

Liberal meltdown

This week was the first week back after a break for Canada’s New Government. Climate change was expected to lead the agenda as it seems to be the sole issue on which the Liberals care to define themselves. Conservatives rose to power promising to clean up government after the most significant corruption scandal in Canadian history. The Liberals think that they’ll rise to power cleaning up… Carbon dioxide and water vapour? Canadians have perceived Harper delivering on the Federal Accountability Act while Canadians believe that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals will deliver on climate change.

In fact, I believe that this underlines a key weakness in Liberal messaging. While polling has shown that the environment is a top priority for Canadians, they’re not about to throw out the government on the issue when they actually go to the polls. If heathcare — an issue which actually has a direct effect on the life and death of Canadians — can be taken off the ballot of the electorate by a couple of weeks of warm weather in Toronto, it would seem that there aren’t any pressing issues that are really on the minds of Canadians. “Environment? Sure that sounds like something I should care about”

Unless a hurricane hits Toronto killing scores of people, the electorate is not about to uproot a government to install the old guard led by a sponsorship-era cabinet minister with no real record on the only issue on which he has chosen to define himself.

That’s why this week’s messaging was so puzzling. At the beginning of this week, a protester braved the freezing temperatures of downtown Ottawa to stretch out to play the part of a sunbathing polar bear. One wonders if the protester only had the suit rented for that day.

Liberals were sporting green ribbons in the House this week,
presumably to show that they care about the environment. Since Dion’s election as Liberal leader, the Liberal website has also incorporated a splash of green. Apparently this is to make it known that our Liberal friends care about the environment so long as the vehicle for their environmentalism is the Kyoto protocol. According to the popular narrative these days, one does not believe in saving the environment if one does not believe in a global, bureaucratic, statist wealth transfer agreement. In fact, one also does not believe in the science of climate change if one does not also believe in such a one world collectivist approach to saving the Earth from certain doom (according to our latest amended models). In fact, while Michael Ignatieff was lecturing the government to meet global Kyoto targets, the green ribbon-clad Ignatieff had his own words thrown back at him when environment minister John Baird quoted Ignatieff questioning Kyoto by saying “nobody knows what Kyoto is or what it commits us to”.

Thursday afternoon, Mark Holland, part of the new Liberal rat pack, had a meltdown (actually he didn’t flinch) when he said on Charles Adlers’ show that a Liberal government would control oil sands development in Alberta. Sacrificing the Canadian economy just because green has become fashionable will have Canadians thinking twice about the Liberal party. (The Liberal Party of Canada is already dead to Albertans).

Earlier on Thursday, Dion had a poor question period performance as he bizarrely stated that Harper was “paralyzing the world” when it came to Kyoto. Somebody ought to proofread Dion’s notes before QP, but I imagine this would be a difficult talk as I hear that Dion is very top-down in his approach and has no time for criticism from his staff.

All in all, a bit of a bizarre week for the Liberals on their climate communications. We heard some whispers about an old Harper letter calling Kyoto a “socialist scheme”, but the Liberals didn’t seem to get any mileage on it.

Why would the Liberals spend this frigid week lecturing the Conservatives on the global warming file (one on which they themselves have a dismal record). Is there really nothing else to talk about? Did the Liberals really spend the week telling Canadians “We got nothing”?

BONUS BAD MESSAGING: Bill Graham demanded Conservative action on Guantanamo Bay, a bizarre request given that Graham was foreign affairs minister in the years after 9/11.

Also, Dion called Harper fat?

Monique Bégin: our next Governor General?

The CBC currently has Monique Bégin listed as one of two serious candidates for Adrienne Clarkson’s replacement as Governor General.

Who is Mme. Bégin?

Monique Bégin was born in 1936 in Rome under Mussolini’s regime to a Flemish mother and to father who worked as a Canadian sound engineer. The family made its way west to Spain during the early part of WWII and settled in Portuagal until they immigrated to Canada. Bégin then grew up poor in the St. Henri district of Montreal. As a consequence of her family’s poverty, Bégin was once hospitalized for malnutrition as a child. She has had numerous jobs from teacher, to executive secretary to a Royal Commission, to administrator of the research branch of the CRTC, to Trudeau heath minister. She now is a professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa.

Politically she has been described as a “feminist-activist” and her friends describe her as one who is hard to persuade once she is convinced that she is right. In a speech to the 25th anniversary annual meeting and scientific sessions of the Canadian Council of Cardiovascular Nurses, Bégin describes herself as “a feminist for as long as I can remember”.

Her policy work has centred mostly upon the public-private healthcare debate. In a recent article in Heathcare Papers (Healthc Pap. 2004;4(4):35-40), Begin favours the Romanow report over the Kirby report on healthcare reform. She writes,

“Kirby recommends, as one possibility, experimentation with private specialty hospitals or clinics. The reasoning is always tempting; however, the reality is that such an approach within a public delivery system creams off the market, leaving the heavier and most onerous cases to the state, not to mention the cases that experience complications to post-private treatment. It is also a way of introducing an element of competition in the system, another fascinating idea for some. But is competition even feasible with a single payer?”

She further describes her affinity for the Romanow report,

“I consider the Romanow exercise in value-definition to be as honest and valid as it can be, given the state of the art. It is also the first time that a truly national debate on medicare has taken place. The innovative consultative model adopted by the Romanow Commission makes it probably the Canadian Royal Commission with the most important public consultations record ever.”

Bégin also mused about the private-public debate as it applies to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) in the article and offers an interesting reason for her inaction to fix the perceived queue-jumping:

“Only a certain number of workers end up as clients of the WCB in Canada. Why should these workers benefit from preferential treatment to get back to work as soon as possible (which provides them with an overall economic benefit), and not the workers who end up in our public hospitals? How does that make sense? At the time the CHA was brought into law in the early 1980s, I admit to wanting to correct this historical exception granted in past legislation to the WCB. Unfortunately, the neo-conservative times were such that I would have taken the risk of losing essential corrections of abuses had I opened more fronts in my strategy.”

Those “neo-conservatives” made her play politics with the healthcare of Canadians! Does demonizing dissent on the right by labelling it “neo-con” still work? Did it ever?

As for the present-day system, Bégin believes that “additional public funding will also be necessary. Our system is certainly sustainable and, generally speaking, Canada’s expenditures have not been out of control.”

The Canadian taxpayer might disagree as roughly forty cents of every tax dollar goes towards this “sustainable” system.

However, Mme. Bégin does rightly suggest that “we should revert to the spirit of a 50-50 cost-share arrangement” and “the federal share could immediately reach, say, 25%”. The healthcare system, as it is currently modelled, should be fixed by rectifying the fiscal imbalance.

Paul Martin is to name the new Governor General tomorrow. If he name Mme. Bégin, he’ll bolster the left-wing side of the medicare debate.

Warren Kinsella also reports that it’ll also be business-as-usual in the spoiled vice-regal department.

Among Madame Begin’s few shortcomings, there is one that looms large above all the others: to wit, she made Marie Antoinette look like regular gal. One who works at Wal-Mart and rides public transit. Happily.

Those of us who were Liberal staffers in the 1980s knew this well. Whenever we gathered for a post-work drink, we would trade tales about the alleged imperial tendencies of Madame Begin. Our favourite one involved her ability to go through ministerial chauffeurs the way normal people go through boxes of chocolates. She would get cross with them, and lecture them, and eventually they would quit. Tons of them. Once, we heard about a driver – who went on to toil for the laid-back Lloyd Axworthy, I believe – who was sent back to Montreal to retrieve a favourite pen. From Ottawa.

Anyway, the best Monique Begin chauffeur story involved one of these poor fellows, finally so fed up that he stopped the ministerial car on a bridge between Hull and Ottawa, as Monique fulminated in the back seat. He took the keys out of the ignition, flung them into the river below, and set off towards a happier life. Even Trudeau laughed when he heard that one.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our next vice-regal representative of the people, brought to you by the same folks who promised to cure the democratic deficit, win many more seats across Western Canada, and hasten a bright new day in federal-provincial relations!

Throne speech delivered

Martin prior to throne speechSo, now that the throne speech has been delivered, let’s take a closer look. The key item, it seems, in the speech was the “new deal” for cities. The NDP says that it doesn’t go far enough and the Conservatives say that it treads on the constitutional balance between the federal/provincial/municipal governments. I’m also very skeptical of Paul Martin’s “one time” two billion dollar into the health care system. Paul claims “it’s broke”, so he’ll put a two billion dollar band-aid on it and hope it holds until he’s ready to retire. Why is it broken Paul?

I keep getting a strange feeling every time that I hear the liberal spin about how this new Liberal government is going to be different from Jean Chrétien’s government, and how spending focus and policy is somehow going to shift. By the will of the Liberal party membership (including the loyal Liberals in BC), we have a new Liberal Prime Minister and he’s the “new deal” for Canadians. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Prime Minister Paul Martin was a key player in the Jean Chrétien government when he was Finance Minister Paul Martin. The allocation of government spending has been long determined and considered by Paul Martin long before he was Prime Minister. It’s not as if Paul Martin has just recently seen the books for the first time and has had an epiphany. Rather, this speech from the throne is merely the pre-election platform of empty promises by the same old government. Indeed, this government has had years to consider a better deal with cities and has had years to find a solution for their failed management of healthcare. I believe that Peter MacKay said it best yesterday, after the speech, when he said that Paul Martin is like an arsonist returning to the fire and then claiming he is a firefighter. It seems as if government turnover in this country has been reduced to the Liberal party coronation of a new leader and calling him “the new deal”.