Tag Archives: ontario

Healthcare: Drawing the Line


I read with a combination of interest and dread, the news story on couples petitioning to have In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) covered under Ontario’s health plan.  Interest to see what the outcome is; dread because I’m already fairly certain what the outcome will be and where that will lead us.

Socialized healthcare is a complicated issue that raises difficult moral and ethical questions.  What should be covered and what shouldn’t?  Who do you treat and for how long?  Where do you draw the line?

I work in healthcare in a major hospital that has one of the busiest Emergency Departments in the country, seeing over 200 patients per day.  The majority of these patients aren’t ill enough to even justify a visit to their GP, let alone make use of a hospital ER.  So why do they come?  Because it’s free.

Our healthcare system has bred a generation of hypochondriacs who go to their doctor or their local hospital for things as innocuous as a mild cold or a papercut or just because they’re lonely and want to chat.  They insist on being checked out for every minor ache or pain – just because they can.

Add in the growing culture of entitlement and you now have a recipe for disaster.  As it is, our healthcare system can barely cope with medically necessary procedures.  If we start adding in frivolous procedures like IVF, our system is destined to collapse.  I fully understand that to a couple struggling to conceive, IVF is far from “frivolous”, but there is no question that it is not a medically necessary procedure.

We simply cannot afford to go down the route of catering to everyone’s needs.  The role of the government is to maintain order, not to spoon feed a population that is unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives.

By no means am I advocating a US-style system of healthcare.  They have a completely different set of problems to deal with.  There has to be a blending of private and public healthcare systems, or at the very least, instill some sort of “user pays” set-up in Canada.

There are many options.  It could be as simple as charging a nominal $10-20 fee for a doctor or hospital visit.  That alone would eliminate much of the abuse on our system.  Then there’s Germany’s model where those who lead a healthy lifestyle receive a refund from the government, while those who actually use the medical system pay top dollar.  Personally, I like Australia’s private/public system – it encompasses the best of both worlds.  With the number of bright minds in our country, I’m quite certain that they could come up with something workable.

The bottom line is this: with a decreasing tax base and aging boomers putting more and more pressure on our healthcare system, our current model is unsustainable.  If we want to continue to have socialized healthcare in this country, the people in charge need to start making some of those difficult moral and ethical decisions that they have been avoiding for the last 40 years.  If they are unwilling to make those decisions, they had best come up with a new healthcare model.  Fast.  If we continue on our current course of including everything and denying nobody, there is no question that we will bankrupt our country.

As a population, we need to take off the blinders and be realistic.  We can’t have it both ways.  If we want the government to be responsible for our health and well-being, then we have to allow them to make the tough decisions required to maintain that system.  If you don’t trust them to make those decisions, then socialized healthcare can never work.

Prorogation and Propaganda


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m sick to death of hearing the word “prorogue”.  The lies, disinformation and manufactured hype surrounding Harper’s recent prorogation of parliament are starting to wear a bit thin.

Contrary to what the Liberals and their opposition cohorts would have you believe, prorogation is a legitimate, and common, parliamentary tool used in the Commonwealth Parliaments of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.  Granted, it has a history of being used in a more questionable manner in Canada than anywhere else in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a legitimate parliamentary process [check out this page for more information on prorogation].

In the 142 years since Sir John A MacDonald became the first Prime Minister of Canada, our parliament has been prorogued 105 times.  That works out to roughly once every 16 months – hardly a rare event. 

During his tenure, Liberal PM Pierre Trudeau prorogued parliament 11 times in 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1983.  More recently, Liberal PM Jean Chretien prorogued parliament 4 times in 1996, 1999, 2002, and 2003.  On the provincial level, Ontario Premier Bob Rae (and federal Liberal Party leader candidate) prorogued the legislative assembly 3 times in 1991, 1992, and 1994.

I can hear the Liberal shills screaming right now, “But it’s not the same thing!  Harper is trying to dodge responsibility!”  Really?  Kind of like when Jean Chretien prorogued in 2003 to avoid the auditor general’s release of the report on AdScam, the sponsorship scandal in Quebec?

I don’t know enough about the “Afghan Detainee” controversy to say that it was a factor in Harper’s decision to prorogue parliament this winter.  I do understand basic math though.  According to the information given to the public thus far, the first reports of prisoner abuse were submitted to the government in “early” 2006.  Stephen Harper was sworn into office on Feb 2, 2006.  That means the alleged torture was already taking place before he came into office, under Paul Martin’s Liberal government.  Could Harper have done more to address the issue?  I don’t know enough to say either way, but I do know enough to say that shutting down the special committee saves the Liberal Party from public scrutiny just as much, if not more so, than the Conservatives. 

If it wasn’t Afghanistan, why did Harper prorogue? I’m not a mind reader, but I have an idea or two.  If Prime Minister Harper has shown us one thing over the last three and a half years, it’s that he is a very shrewd and adept political strategist.  From my untrained perspective I can see two issues that are of much more importance than Afghanistan to the PM right now: the Senate and the budget.

The current breakdown of the Senate is as follows:

Affiliation Senators
  Conservative Party 46
  Liberal Party 49
  Progressive Conservative Caucus 2
  Independent 2
  No Affiliation 1
  Vacant 5
 Total as of January 2, 2010 105

If Harper uses this time to fill those 5 vacant seats, the balance of power in the Senate will tip to the Conservatives.  The Liberals, of course, are protesting this, saying that the PM will now be able to “ram through” his legislation.  Kind of like the Liberals have been doing for the last 30 years then, no?

That brings us to the budget.  With the entire world teetering on the brink of economic collapse (you didn’t think the recession was over did you?) I can’t think of a single more important issue for the PM to be addressing right now.  By proroguing, the PM has timed things so that the budget will be delivered as soon as parliament reconvenes and left the opposition parties little time to mount a protest against it.  This is both good and bad: bad because some questionable items may be pushed through without proper consideration; good because it effectively limits the ability of the opposition to topple the minority government. 

I can hear the protests already, “But..but..that’s undemocratic!”  No.  That’s simply the reality of our style of government – especially minority government.  People seem to have forgotten that minority governments are not so much about running the country as they are about political survival.  This is by no means new to Stephen Harper, but the general public tends to have a short memory.

Speaking of democracy, the Liberal Party is in no position to preach on that topic.  After all, it was their attempt to stage a coup against the democratically elected government of Canada that prompted the 2008 prorogation of parliament.  In Canada’s 142 years since confederation there has only ever been one coalition government.  That government was formed in 1917 when Robert Borden’s Unionist party – who had won a clear majority – requested a coalition with the Liberal Party during World War 1.  No matter which way you try to spin it, the Liberal Party’s attempt, with the help of the NDP and the Bloc, to usurp power from the Conservative Party can be called nothing other than a coup d’etat.  So no, they are in absolutely no position to speak on the topic of democracy.

On the topic of the people voicing their opinions, there were organized protests against prorogation held in 32 communities across the country yesterday.  Only 25,000 people turned up nationwide, including a mere 3,500 in Ottawa.  In 1994, by comparison, 10,000 protesters marched on Ottawa alone in an attempt to stop the passage of C-68, now known as the Firearms Act.  The people have spoken on the issue of prorogation, and they don’t care.

Cutting through all the media hype, sensationalism and fear-mongering, I think Harper’s decision had much more to do with political strategy than dodging responsibility.  Even if he did elect to prorogue because of the Afghan issue, he hasn’t prevented an inquiry, he has merely delayed it.  Regardless of his motives, his decision to prorogue was a gamble, and only time will tell if it was a mistake.

The puzzle starts to make sense


Michael Bryant is the former attorney general of Ontario and was tipped to become the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.  Note, I said was.  That was before he was involved in a road rage incident last week that left a 33-year old bicycle courier dead.

Bryant is perhaps best known as the author of several controversial pieces of legislation.  He’s the King of the Ban in Ontario.  Problems with aggressive dogs?  Ban dogs.  Street racing an issue?  Ban speed.  Gang crime getting you down?  Ban legal shooting sports.

I’m not going to go into the details of any of these laws.  Instead I’ll invite you to take a wander with me through some of my random thought processes:   

  • Bans of any form are nothing more than a fear response.  Period. 
  • Projection: Projection is a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world. A common form of projection occurs when an individual, threatened by his own angry feelings, accuses another of harbouring hostile thoughts. [emphasis added by Jayde]

What is Michael Bryant afraid of then?  Following on with the two points I made above, the pieces slowly start to come together. 

  • Bryant decided it was was best to ban aggressive dog breeds rather than punish the owners who don’t take responsibility for their pets.  Not too much of a leap to assume that Bryant doesn’t think he would be able to handle a more aggressive dog.  And since he can’t do it, nobody else could possibly do it either.
  • If you’re caught speeding excessively you immediately fall under the purview of the new street-racing laws in Ontario.  Your car is impounded and your license is suspended on the spot.   Perhaps Bryant has difficulties driving in a safe manner, and could only be stopped from driving this way by having is vehicle and license revoked.  Again, because it’s true for him, it must be true for everyone else.
  • Working to enact a gun ban to reduce gang crime is actually the easiest to peg out of these three examples.  Bryant is one of those types who think that owning a firearm automatically makes a person a killer.  He’s afraid that because he wouldn’t be able to control his temper/emotions and shouldn’t be trusted with a firearm, that nobody else should be trusted with one either.

Now let’s go back to the main story.  I’m not going to discuss the likelihood of a Liberal politician getting off scot-free in Liberal-dominated Ontario.  I’ll leave alone the probability that even after this incident Bryant will still go on to lead the Liberal Party.  I’m not going to go into why Bryant chose to hit the accelerator rather than the brakes with a person hanging off the side of his car.  I don’t know the details of what happened on that road, and I honestly don’t care.  It’s irrelevant. 

The key is this: Bryant was involved in a road rage incident that involved aggressive driving.  Once again, let’s take a look at two of his fears from above: an inability to drive in a safe manner or to control his temper.  Hmmmm.  Pattern? 

What’s my point?  Politicians are not immune to human emotion and psychoses, and projection is one of the most common human defense mechanisms.  So the next time you hear someone calling for any type of a ban, pause and ask yourself a couple of questions. Who and What are they really afraid of?  Is society at large really the problem?  Or are they?