Here’s an MP cast in the mold of Preston Manning and the rest of his Reformatory ilk:
Canadians must embrace the resources locked within the private sector if we are going to have a sustainable health care system.
We are careening into a brick wall where health care costs are rising at over seven per cent a year while revenues are increasing at only four per cent a year. This is due to our aging population, more expensive technologies, and a shrinking workforce. Baby boomers are retiring and our reproduction rate of 1.7 children per woman sits well below the rate of 2.1 that is needed to just maintain our population. Health costs continue to exceed resources year-in and year-out. This translates into hospitals withholding care from sick patients (rationing), previously medically insured services not being covered anymore (de-listing), and additional fees being charged to the patient for services rendered. This has resulted in longer waiting times, medical personnel leaving the profession because they are fed up with being unable to care for their patients, reduced access to care for those in need and, most importantly, people enduring needless pain and suffering while they wait an excessively long time for care. This situation is not going to get better, only worse.
Only one source that can provide the extra monies we need to fund our medical needs: the private sector.
In order for this to happen we must get serious about reforming our health system and not tinkering with it. First, the Canada Health Act (CHA) must be modernized to allow patients to pay for care if they wish, in entirely separate facilities funded solely by the private sector. Individuals who go to these centres would be paying for care out of their own pocket or through private insurance they have purchased. By leaving the public system, they will be shortening the queues for those who are waiting. People using private facilities from time to time would also be free to access the public system that their taxes are paying for. Private facilities would act as a release valve and would in effect be subsidizing the public system. Physicians and other medical personnel would work in both systems.
We cannot continue to wrap ourselves in the CHA, hold onto shibboleths and demonize those who are trying to modernize our obsolete healthcare system. It must be overhauled in order to fulfill its ultimate objective, which is to ensure that all Canadians, regardless of income, will have timely access to the quality care they need when they fall ill and that the length and quality of our lives will be the best it can be.
Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MD, should be outraged! Will she be? Who is this heretic? Is it Stephen Harper, is it Stockwell Day? Maxime Bernier?
I was in the gallery of the House of Commons yesterday to vote on C-391. Members from
opposition parties voted to support Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s legislation to scrap the long gun registry.
Fulfilling a longterm election promise, Conservative members voted unanimously to sink the long criticized program which has been referred to by caucus members as a “billion dollar boondoggle”.
Friendly betting went on between Conservative staff and Conservative members earlier in the day on the outcome of the vote. From passing by two votes to fifteen votes, everyone bet on it to pass. However, there was still tension as the known opposition votes needed to pass the legislation still counted Heopner’s bill short by one or two votes.
In the end, the legislation passed with applause for Hoeppner and Garry Breitkreuz, who shepherded the issue through its latest legislative test. Applause also for Independent libertarian-minded Quebec MP Andre Arthur who showed up for the vote despite being ill over the past two years. It was conveyed to me that fellow Quebec libertarian Maxime Bernier encouraged him to make the vote.
Another MP Claude Guimont, afflicted with H1N1 influenza also made the vote. It was reported earlier that the Tories faced criticism for refusing to pair Guimont’s vote. Given the unwhipped vote, allowing members to vote their minds rather than that of their leader, and given the uncertainty of the outcome, nobody from any political party offered to pair their vote.
The vote sent the bill to committee 164-137, prompting one member from a coterie of gun control advocates sitting in the opposite gallery to show her white ribbon (commemorating the 1989 shootings at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal) to perhaps shame members of the opposition benches that voted with Conservative members.
Among the activists was Wendy Cuckier, often the face of gun control in the Canadian media. After the vote she scrummed with reporters in the Commons foyer. She complained of a new style of politics, an “American style” of approaching legislation. She suggested that, in the future, the government may on matters such as same-sex marriage and abortion introduce legislation as Private Members Business as they’ve done with the Gun Registry to allow MPs to vote their conscience. The danger in this, she suggested was that leaders would have less control over their parties and that the government could “pick off” opposition MPs by lobbying them heavily within their own ridings by spending dollars on persuation via advertising. She remarked that this is the style of politics that happens south of the border.
Keith Martin was among the few Liberal members that voted against the registry. He noted that while the organization of police chiefs is against the abolishment of the registry, rank and file police officers are for it. He explained that he voted for the bill because he wants to broaden the discussion by sending it committee.
Candice Hoepner noted in her scrum that today marked only one step along the path to dismantling the gun registry. She emphasized that it was important that the issue was put to a free vote. Hoeppner noted that while she is against the registry, she is still in favour of licensing for gun owners. On the registry’s supposed intent, Heoppner explained that the registry did little to stop criminals. As for the changes the legislation may face in committee, she suggested that one cannot change the intent of the bill at this stage. And as the bill faces a vote in the Senate, Heopner expressed her hope that the unelected senators be especially mindful of the wishes of Canadians.
Wayne Easter also scrummed in the foyer. Easter was Solicitor General under Chretien and held the office while his portfolio responsibilities included oversight of the long gun registry program. Easter was one of the only front bench Liberal MPs that voted for Hoepner’s PMB. Easter explained that the system isn’t working as it was intended and that there is strong opposition to the long gun registry in rural committees, perhaps including the one that Easter represents on Prince Edward Island. He suggested that it is the Prime Minister that is to blame for the weakening of gun control. In fact, many Liberals had suggested that the Prime Minister dodged a long held campaign promise of scrapping the registry and that he should have directed legislation on this issue to introduced as a government bill.
While Easter was among the Liberal caucus that got the registry up and running, he suggested that there is always room for improvement to the system. It is unknown if he meant improvement via dismantling. Easter stated that he voted to represent the interests of his constituents, many of which include farmers and hunters — two constituent groups firmly against the program. Easter stated when asked that he was, and still is, very upset about the advocacy Conservatives members conducted in his riding. At one point this week he even suggested that it may change his vote.
Hedy Fry remarked that the vote is essentially meaningless as her leader voted to continue the registry. Therefore, she suggested, when the Liberals retake power, they’d reverse any action on the registry taken by the Conservatives.
NDP staffers suggested to me that the legislation may never see royal assent because of delays at committees, in the Senate and a future election that will drop it off of the order paper. They noted that the legislation split along an urban and rural divide in both the NDP and Liberal parties. An NDP strategist also added that gun control lobby groups largely sat on their hands as Conservatives organized on this issue.
The bill now faces discussion and study in committee where it is likely to face testimony by lobby groups both for and against the scrapping of the gun registry. Opposition members are likely to express an intent to “study” the legislation by calling a number of witnesses. Ironically, delay may increase likelihood of the bill passing through the Senate as 2010 will see appointment of additional senators to the Upper Chamber. Conservatives are effectively sailing through votes in the now and 2010 the Senate will tip further to the right. For the time being, however, delayed passage of a bill to dismantle the gun registry by the Upper Chamber will only act to bolster Conservative fundraising on two hated issues: the gun registry and the unelected Senate.
Yesterday, I broke the story about how a regulatory body of Canada’s private broadcasters was apparently holding back advertising produced by the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA).
The reason for the rejection of CRFA’s advertising? Insufficient size (and duration) of a disclaimer describing who produced the ad spots as TVB categorized the commercials as “Issues and Opinions” due to the buzzworthy nature of renewable fuels.
However, CRFA was given another bizarre reason for the rejection of one of their ads: a two second clip of Stephen Harper stumping during the previous election on a renewable fuels promise needed a “letter of attestation” from the Conservative leader in order for it to appear in the commercial. In other words, CRFA needed Harper’s permission to use Harper’s image even though the use of such an image was from a public event and without media restriction. The clip was used by CRFA to remind Canadians of the promise made by the Conservatives during the previous election on renewable fuels.
CRFA cried foul and rightly argued that such a stipulation for advertising would mean that public figures that debate and write legislation for the public could have an automatic veto over any commercial that they don’t like that featured their image. It should be noted that the issue of ownership of the video content was never in dispute, but rather that the subject of the video (Harper) had not signed off on it’s use.
This got me thinking. Surely there are other examples of commercials produced using the images of elected officials. Election advertising and especially attack ads come to mind.
During the closing days of the previous election, I doubt that Stephen Harper signed off on the blurry, war drum fade-in of his image while Liberals warned of “soldiers with guns. In our cities. We’re not making this up”. Why would he give his permission for such a spot? Further, if TVB is responsible for editorial control over commercials that air on private broadcasters, why on Earth did a spot showing women hunched over cowering while a voice-over falsely accused Harper of being an ideologue that would prevent a woman from her right to choose get approved, while Corn Cob Bob got canned for using an innocuous clip of Stephen Harper (for about two seconds on less than 5% of the screen).
The TVB apparently greenlighted obviously slanderous ad copy while rejecting a happy-go-lucky ad about renewable fuels.
During the last days of the 2006 election, after the Liberals made those war drum spots (we’re not making this up), the Conservatives responded with their own ad with clips of Liberals saying the soldier ad was a “bad idea” etc and a clip of Paul Martin admitting that he approved the ads. The Liberals were quick to condemn the ad in a press release dated January 15th, 2006:
Conservatives Called on to Withdraw TV Spots January 15, 2006
The Conservative Party of Canada has produced new television ads which the Liberal Party of Canada believes are in violation of Canada’s Copyright laws.
The Liberal Party of Canada calls on the Conservative Party to withdraw these ads.
Here’s the ad:
The Liberals lobbied to have the ad pulled because they claimed that the Conservatives violated CBC copyright by using a clip of Paul Martin admitting that he approved the controversial Liberal attack ads. A CP story from January 16th, 2006 gives us some more perspective:
OTTAWA (CP) — A new Conservative TV ad is reminding voters some of Paul Martin’s own candidates disapproved of a controversial Liberal attack which some say implied a Tory government would send tanks into the streets.
The Conservative ad recycles quotes from prominent Liberals including John McCallum, former defence minister, who last week called his party’s ad a mistake.
The 30-second Liberal spot was based on a campaign promise by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to station 500-member battalions of Canadian Forces personnel in major cities for deployment in emergencies.
The Liberal ad outraged military personnel, who said it implies the Tories were advocating some form of martial law.
It was quickly yanked from the Liberal party’s English website, but a French version aired on television in Quebec.
Martin has said he gave an initial go-ahead, then changed his mind and pulled the ad, which McCallum and Keith Martin, a former Reform party MP and now a Liberal incumbent, later criticized.
The Liberals called on the Conservatives to withdraw the ad in a statement Sunday, saying they believe it violates copyright laws by using CBC footage which they did not have permission to use.
But the Conservatives said all their ads were approved by the party’s legal counsel and Telecaster, the Canadian advertising authority. They added they haven’t received any complaints about the ad from the CBC.
Telecaster (TVB) initially approved the ad for distribution, however, the Liberals complained and the ad was subsequently pulled.
TVB’s greenlight of controversial Liberal ads, the rejection of CRFA’s ads which favourably portray Harper’s environmental policy, along with the pulling of the previously approved Conservative response ad during the past election after Liberals complained raises a few red flags.
As with other elements of our democracy, the approval of private advertising of election ads (and non-election advocacy ads) should be accomplished on a level playing field. Why should one party (whether Conservative or Liberal) have an advantage over the other when trying to get advertising approved for consumption by the public on private networks? Of course, private networks are free to do business with whomever they choose, but would it be a scandal if the umbrella group that is is in charge of editorial content control for these networks controlled for preferred partisanship rather than what they are supposed to control for? (hate speech, indecency, promotion of unlawful acts)
According to the Television Bureau of Canada’s website, the president of the organization is a man named Jim Patterson. In this document we find out that Jim Patterson also goes by the name James and that his middle initial is D.
I decided to search the Elections Canada donations database for donations from people named Jim/James D. Patterson. The following results describe one individual who, according to Elections Canada, lives in Lakefield Ontario with the postal code K0L 2H0.
Lloyd, Diane / Liberal Party of Canada / Peterborough
Jan. 11, 2006
Individuals / Part 2a
Is this the same Jim/James D. Patterson that is the head of the Television Bureau of Canada, the private regulatory body that has editorial control over “Issues and Opinion” advertising?
If so, should a partisan be in charge of approving ads during a time sensitive period (such as an election) where parties depend on television advertising for their most critical rapid responses? Also, would it be appropriate for a partisan to have an advanced look at a competing party’s ads?