Danny Williams medicare debate Part II

John Gedded has an excellent piece in Macleans on the Danny Williams health care controversy. He concludes:

"Canada should be looking for ways to adapt, not revolutionize, health care. If the path from primary physician to specialist is shorter in the U.S., learn from that. If, as I’ve been told recently by Canadian doctors, Britain has done better at cutting wait times within a public system, learn from that. If Europe is broadly better at computerized records, there’s our classroom.

"None of these potential lessons, I’m afraid, has zing to match of the saga of a millionaire politician jetting south for surgery. Personal stories are fun to tell. Policy requires charts and graphs."

His observations bolster the case for the universal healthcare insurance that we have in Canada.


Commonwealth Fund, Danny Williams, health care, wait times

Danny Williams and medicare

Lorrie Golstein asks why are lib-left commentators giving Danny Williams an easy pass after he went to US for cardiac surgery. The columnist then indulges in the usual right-wing diatribe on why we need two-tier medicine in Canada.

There are some legitimate questions as to why people are letting Danny Williams off the hook on this. I think the main reason he went to Florida is because he could recuperate in the sun in his Sarasota condo.

The bottom line is that the Premier is responsible for health care in Newfoundland and Labrador. Hence, he should hacve accessed the surgery he needed here in Canada where it is available.


Danny Williams, medicare, heathcare, two-tier medicine


New Procurement Agreement

The Harper government and provinces signed a multi-pronged government procurement agreement with the United States on February 16 that will see provincial and local spending powers permanently limited under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. It is unacceptable that the government would sign a new procurement agreement with the United States, and permanently include the provinces and territories in the WTO's Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), while Parliament is prorogued and without any parliamentary approval process.



High Noon on March 3rd

Writing in the Toronto Star, James Travers discusses what is likely to happen when Parliament commences its new session. He foresees a contest of wills that will test Parliament's control over the Prime Minister.

He observes that the dispute over the release of documents pertaining to the Afghan dtainess issue is "turning Parliament's March 3 return into high noon. Once the throne speech is read, expect the Prime Minister's refusal to be raised as a point of privilege. It then becomes a priority that must be considered before debate moves on to the budget and economic issues more in the Prime Minister's interest." The House could find the Prime Minister in contempt.

More profoundly, he concludes:

"Over the past 50 years, Canadian prime ministers have taken back powers it took 500 years to strip from British monarchs. Harper's current confrontation with Parliament is a rare opportunity to reinforce that the Prime Minister answers to the Commons and, through it, to the people. Eroded by stealth and increment, that principle is too important not to defend, even if the result is an election no one wants."

Amen to that.



Are you a "cat" or a "dog" person?

Are you a "cat" or a "dog" person?

As a rule, dogs are more social and eager to please, while cats are more introverted and curious.In a new study, self-described cat and dog people appeared to share these traits.

Check it out:


How to replace Harper in next election

During the past two elections the Conservatives have been able to form a minority government with the support of only about a third of Canadian voters. The alignmet of the vote on the right through the merger of the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties while the vote from the center to the left is split several ways has allowed Harper to seize and hang on to power.

Philip Resnick and Reg Whitaker, writing in today's The Tyee, call on the Liberals, New Democrats and Greens to make an electoral deal. This is something I have been advocating for some time. Basically it would involve the caucuses and leaders of the three opposition parties whose principal support lies outside Quebec agreeing amongst themselves not to contest a sufficient number of seats across the country so as not to split the anti-Conservative vote. As Resnick and Whitaker point out,
"roughly 65 percent of Canadian voters do not want a Conservative government for a whole variety of reasons -- its contempt for Parliament and for an independent civil service, its poor environmental policy, its gutting of cultural programs, its weakening of Canada's international position as a respected middle power."

They suggest that these three parties focus on the 60-80 seats where a three-way split in opposition party votes has allowed the Conservatives to win ridings with fewer than 35 percent of the votes, or come within striking distance of defeating current Liberal or NDP sitting members. "The party with the best-placed candidate in 2008 would then be able to run its candidate, with the others stepping down. To ensure the Greens some representation, in particular the seat where its leader chooses to run, the other two parties would give its candidate a clear run."

I think that this is the right way forward. Identify those seats that could be taken from the Conservatives if the other parties cooperated and do just that.



Harper's latest gambit

After weeks of being criticized for proroguing the Commons, Harper is trying to win back pissed-off Canadians by adding extra House sittings in March and April to make up some lost time. The plan is to cancel two weeks of planned parliamentary breaks, including one in March that MPs often use for vacations.

Conservatives are denying that this is an admission that prorogation was a bad idea.

Harper was too clever by half the last time he tried to outsmart the opposition. This is a rather lame-brained attempt to make up for lost ground.



Harper in trouble

A new Harris-Decima poll puts Liberals and Tories in dead heat, with opposition making inroads in key battlegrounds. Overall the two parties are tied at 32 per cent. But Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg says the real story lies below the headline numbers.

“What you have on the surface is a dead heat, but if you dig a little deeper, what you see is that the Liberals are clearly making some inroads into key, battleground constituencies.”

“They are emerging as the federalist default option to the BQ in the province of Quebec, they are ahead in Ontario for the first time since September.”

He observed that Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament has added to what has always been a character issue. In terms of his leadership rating, "Harper basically took a 14-point hit between fall and post-prorogation.”

Keep it up Canadians! Let him know what we think and we may soon be rid of this dictator.