Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Harper: Time to 'Fess up! Let's Talk Health Care!

Ol' Stevie is off to Washington to meet with President Obama tomorrow & Liberals are asking him to defend our health care system state-side. Something Harper was able to avoid, even when in an interview with ABC news correspondant, Jake Tapper. To summarize Harper's answers to Tapper's health care questions, he basically said he left that entirely to the provinces & basically pulling the old Sergent Schultz routine (I know nut-ting! I know nut-ting!).  To be fair, I can forgive Harper not jumping into the health care debate in the U.S for one reason: Obama's health care reform plan doesn't call for a single-payer health care system like in Canada; it doesn't resemble Canada's model at all. Shona Holmes' ad & other ads like her's are nothing more than a red herring. 

However, as our prime minister, why doesn't he defend our health care system here, in Canada to the likes of the Canadian Constitution Foundation & the last three presidents (present one included) of the Canadian Medical association & other interest groups who are doggedly trying to dismantle the Canada Health Act & our single payer system??

When the Liberals ask Harper to defend our health care system, they asked the wrong question; my question to that is are they asking Harper the wrong question intentionally in order to box him into a corner? If this is the case, the Liberals should continue running with this. It's a  great strategy for the Liberals  to slam Harper with  his views on  health care. I do mean his REAL views. Not the 2005 campaign where he promises to maintain our single-payer system & even try to improve on it. "There will be no private, parallel system," Harper told a campaign rally in Winnipeg. & that would respect the Canada Health Act & reduce waiting times. 

The video of Harper speaking to fellow Conservatives in Sault Ste Marie behind closed doors released September 9  revealed the REAL Harper; the Stevie of Reform, the NCC & the Canadian Alliance Party.The video is posted on Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Harper. In the video, it is quite obvious that someone edited out alot of footage; undoubtedly more damning stuff. I would even venture to say he expressed his old & true views of our health care system & in which direction it should go.  

Here are various quotes from Stephen Harper in days' past regarding Health Care in Canada to refresh our memories: 

"It's past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act."
- Stephen Harper, then Vice-President of the National Citizens Coalition, 1997.

"What we clearly need is experimentation with market reforms and private delivery options [in health care]."
- Stephen Harper, then President of the NCC, 2001.

In his 2002 Throne Speech Reply, Stephen Harper said: "A government monopoly is not the only way to deliver health care to Canadians. ... It (the federal government) must remove any barriers, any chill to increase private capital investment plans that the provinces have for our health-care system."

Notice the paralell between this last quote & what he tells Jake Tapper his view about Canada's health care system: 

"Yes, but the responsibility for the health care waits, in our country, are the responsibilities of provincial governments. 
I have taken the view, as the federal prime minister very different than some of my predecessors as I don’t lecture the provinces publically on how they should be running their health care systems. 
What we try to do is work with them in a cooperative manner so we can be helpful in addressing the challenges.  
All around the world, what we are seeing all around the world is important to understand is that there have been tremendous breakthroughs in medicine.  We can treat more things, more ways through new technology, drugs than ever before.
At the same time, all of this costs money.  If you are prepared to spend an unlimited amount of money, you can do an almost unlimited number of things in people’s health care.  But you don’t have an unlimited amount of money no matter what your system is.  And these are challenges that every system has to address.
But I’m not – I’m not going, quite frankly, criticize how our provinces are running their health care systems because I know the challenges that face them are very big."
In both those statements he hints at not only leaving the provinces to decide how to handle their health care systems & basically keep the federal government out of it, but also supports private health care. 

Right now he is skirting the issue of one of the most important social programs to most Canadians. Even Eric Mang of the harperindex.ca admits that "....it may not have been politically prudent for Mr. Harper to allow himself to be dragged into the Shona Holmes debacle" given that her ad in the U.S. has been proven to be an outright lie.

However, indirectly, he is, in my opinion. 

The Canadian Constitution Foundation a Conservative public interest group funded by donations & our tax dollars which backs right-winged legal cases; cases which support everything Harper has said in his days with the Reform, NCC & Canadian Alliance Party,   is backing Shona Holmes law suit against OHIP & the Ontario Government.  This is why the Shona Holmes case is so frightening. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you will, but if one stopped & think about this; given Harper's real views of private for profit health care; it's not that crazy. Awhile back, I don't think anyone believed Harper would ever get a majority government, thus, would never be able to implement privatized health care. As such, I believed that if Shona Holmes' suit is successful, this would be a way for Harper to push privatized health care through the back door of parliament without losing any of his constituents. 

So, why did Harper change his tune about health care in his 2005 campaign?  If there is one thing most Canadians; right, centre & left agree on is our universal health care program. Some may whine & complain, but they would never give it up in favour of the U.S. health care system. Yes, most Canadians do agree our system needs some improvements, but they agree that we should improve our single-payer system & clearly DON'T want a paralell health care system such as the one the U.S. 
Bottom line, if Harper revealed his true views of our health care system even inadvertantly; it would indeed be a deal breaker. Even most of those who voted for Harper consistantly support our health care system & thus wouldn't vote for him.
The Liberals would be best to lay off those 'think big & global' & 'talking to India & China'---average Canadians wouldn't relate to them, particularly those who lost their jobs due to sub-contracting their jobs out to India & China. They should, instead, take Jack Layton's cue from last year & make it about the kitchen table; something I think the Liberals can actually sell even better than Layton could. One of the reasons why I believe the Liberals & NDP should merge as I mentioned in another previous posting: ...And Let the Insanity Begin! but I digress. 

One of the biggest issues important to average Canadians, no matter if they're right winged, Centrist or Left-winged, would be health care & they would do well to continuously hammer ol' Stevie over the head with it...give him the rope to hang himself with. I strongly believe that sooner or later, he will hang himself with  his disdain for our health care system & promote private health care. I sincerely hope that the Liberals (& the other political parties) will take this on, not for their sake, but for the sake of our health care system.

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