Since the days of Tommy Douglas, healthcare has always been one of the most important issues facing Canadians, and a big part of massive electoral politics. But today, more than ever, public and private healthcare seem to be heading on a collision course, for one of the epic battles of Canadian politics. It's Ralph Klein vs. Tommy Douglas here, and the fate of the healthcare system hangs in the balance. And us Canadians have front row seats.
Lets take a look at the challengers, shall we?
In this corner, the reigning heavyweight champion of healthcare, recently voted greatest Canadian of all time, the father of medicare, the warrior from Weyburn, Tommy Douglas!!!
And in this corner, we have the king of Calgary, the prince of private delivery, a a man who likes beer even more than me, Ralph Klein
But seriously, it's going to be a major showdown within the near future, and our healthcare system is in danger. After Pirate Paul's budget cuts in the 90s, we've been having some problems with waiting lists and ensuring timely service. Perhaps that was his plan all along, cut funding to healthcare, make it seem like it's in danger, to try to mobilize public opinion against it. If we can't kill it now, we'll starve it first. Plus he gets to be known as a deficit slayer, and he can pretend like he wants to defend healthcare. But now that he's gone, healthcare has new enemies, in the form of Harper, Charest and Chaoulli, joining Ralph Klein in their quest to destroy public healthcare.
Harper has been trying to portray himself as a defender of healthcare, but he isn't. No matter how much he tries to be the moderate Red Tory, you only have to look to his quotes when he was President of the NCC, and not running for anything, to find the real Stephen Harper.
"What we clearly need is experimentation with market reforms and private delivery options [in health care]." -Stephen Harper, 2001
"It's past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act." -Stephen Harper, 1997
What has changed since then? Becoming leader of the Conservative Party, and trying to win votes from the majority of Canadians who do support private healthcare. To quote Canada's favorite trailer park supervisor, "A sh!t leopard can't change its spots." Stephen Harper is a sh!t leopard.
But how will the sh!t leopard in 24 Sussex deal with Klein and Charest screwing around with private healthcare? How will he deal with Chaoulli vs. Quebec? How will he deal with an increase in privatization? He'll do absolutely nothing, until Canada has a medical system as inefficient as that of our neighbors to the south. And if he can keep our healthcare system starving, him and his provincial counterparts can keep using Chaoulli vs. Quebec as ammo to destory public healthcare.
And what of the Liberals? They're down for now, but expect them to keep the same old strategy of NDP promises and Conservative government. Nothing will change if they get in power. It might delay the destruction of public healthcare, but they will not stop it. The NDP? Depends. With Jack Layton at the helm, they can defend healthcare, but they can't do it on the sidelines. But, get another third way leader like McDonough, and we're screwed. If the NDP goes the way of New Labour, our healthcare system will die.
And what will Canada look like when we're done? Private healthcare companies will run everything. Instead of focusing on prevention, they will only patch you up and send you the bill. Remember, repeat business is what they want, and they don't get it with an ounce of prevention. They want to bill you for that pound of cure. Some say that private healthcare will be more efficient. Perhaps initially, but it won't take long for them to start skimming off more and more profits. Public healthcare has to simply pay for treatment. Private healthcare not only has to pay for treatment, but also the CEO's luxury car and mansion. Two tier healthcare will not improve waiting lines for the majority of the population. It will only make a short line for the rich and a long line for the rest of us. Where will we wind up in the end? Look south, to the country that spends the largest percentage of its GDP per capita on healthcare expenses, yet millions go without. Is that what we want to see in Canada? I don't think so.
It's Ralph vs. Tommy, and the fate of the healthcare system lies in the balance. We must fight to reverse the tide of privatization. Don't ask to pay for worse, demand better.
Do it for yourself, do it for the single mother who will have to choose between paying rent and paying her doctor, do it for Canada.