Sunday, July 31, 2005

Robin Williams' Two-Tiered Retaining Walls

With a hat tip to the Blue Blogging Soapbox, who in turn pointed to the following story at A Canadian Econoview, Don't These People Learn?

The post itself is pretty tongue-in-cheek, but the first part is from the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal:
... Robin Williams and his wife, Marsha, offered to donate $80,000 US to fix a retaining wall and median strip near their home in the city's Seacliff neighbourhood.

City supervisor Gerardo Sandoval balked, fearing Williams would be getting preferential treatment. Sandoval said he didn't want the city to go "down the slippery slope" of putting privately funded projects ahead of those needed in less affluent areas.

But after city staff assured him that Williams' generosity would free up funds for poorer neighbourhoods, Sandoval joined nine colleagues in voting unanimously Tuesday to accept the comedian's gift.

City officials said the funds will be used for new benches, irrigation, planters and bronze memorial plaques.
Then, somewhat facetiously, the author goes on:
What will actually happen is that as the rich start to buy their own bronze memorial plaques, their own retaining walls and their own median strips, support for the publicly funded median strip system will fall, leading not to increased funds being available for poorer areas but to a reduction in total public funding for median strips. And before you know it, every median strip in San Francisco will have two tiers.
A little bit of hyperbole, but if you read it for what it is, it's kind of funny. Anyway, what this did do is make me think.

Remember, I'm 100% behind publicly funded health care, but I'm also realistic enough to realize that the current model we're employing isn't working. If the public health care system cannot or will not (if the current Liberal government has its way), then we must allow some private delivery of health care.

Now, the concern that the article addresses is the belief that allowing for-private health insurance will redirect funds away from the public system. I don't think that's the big problem - I think the legitimate concern is the quality of care in both systems. This was raised as a problem with Ralph Klein's "third way" of health care (CBC,
Better rooms, hip replacements for those who can afford it: Klein) - essentially, with the right dollars, somebody would be entitled to better health care than someone in the public system, who would only get the basic, no frills care. The slippery slope would then lead to bare bones care in the public system, with the best care only available privately.

I think there is a way that could be explored, which Robin Williams did to get the retaining wall fixed. Mr. Williams didn't just go out, hire a contracting company, got everything fixed, and then went about his merry way. He gave the money to the government to do the repairs.

Now, I'm only thinking of this off the top of my head right now, so I might need some time to flesh this out. But, suppose instead of invisibly swiping the Visa at the doctor's office -
all payments must be remitted through the provincial ministry, who would review the expenditures and monitor quality (if you're going to open it wide open) OR kind of the standard idea - the private clinics would be licensed by the provincial governments to deliver certain services it needs delivered to target health care delivery problems.

I'd like to flesh the first idea out later, but I'm a bit long weekended out right now.

Happy Lord Simcoe Day!!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Ontario PCs at 38%, Ontario Liberals at 36%

Seemingly hot on the heels of the last Environics poll, this one shows that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are still leading over the Ontario Liberals.
In the wake of a provincial budget in May and as temperatures and energy consumption soars, Ontarians’ support for provincial political parties has remained relatively stable. As has been the case for the past year, the Progressive Conservatives continue to hold a very narrow lead over the ruling Liberals, according to a recent survey by Environics Research Group conducted over the past month.
The details break down as follows:

PC - 38% (-3%)
Liberals - 36% (+1%)
NDP - 22% (+1%)
Other - 4% (+1%)
Undecided - 10% (-1%)

I think we'll definitely see another PC government in Ontario before we see another NDP, that's for sure. And, I'd be willing to bet that we'll see a PC government re-elected in 2007.

It appears that support for Mr. Tory's PCs was spread to the other parties equally - one to the NDP and one to the Liberals and one to the "other", and I think I know why. Mr. Tory has gone missing the last couple of months. I saw him on TV this morning talking about the Conservatives new initiative to investigate ways to eliminate gridlock in the GTA (get rid of the honking horns on the site, please), which is something the Liberals should be doing, but beyond this ... nothing. I haven't heard a peep into the investigations into Harinder Takhar or Joe Cordiano. The last we heard was the response to the budget (2005 Ad-Lib Budget: Making It Up As They Go Along - PDF).

Now, I think John Tory is the best choice for Ontario Premier. He's got the sound business finesse to run this province plus the know-how of what Ontarians want. Plus, no lies. That's the end of my ra-ra speech. I think he just needs to hit the BBQ circuit too - like he did during his leadership campaign.

The details ...
The so-called “gender gap” is wide enough to be a chasm. Among men, the PCs lead the Liberals 47 to 28 percent. Among women, the Liberals lead 44 to 30 percent. Support for the NDP is about equal among men and women.
Ouch. So, Ontario men support the PCs and Ontario women support the Liberals. I think that's largely due to some run off from the previous PC government, but I think that's been the trend by and large for the last years - I always seem to recall the strategists calling on the Libs to target women. I think if Mr. Tory got out there more, he'd show that he's the best choice for Ontario. He's a nice guy, ladies - he's focusing on education, health care, with a keen fiscal mind.
Regionally, support for the PCs is highest in the Outer Belt of the GTA and in rural areas in general. Liberal support is quite even across the province, but is somewhat higher in the City of Toronto. NDP support is also particularly high in the City of Toronto.
This is not really news. Rural and suburban Ontario tends to be PC, and Toronto tends to be NDP. The Liberals are just ... out there.

Prediction: Once they're back at Queen's Park, Mr. Tory will go back into the low-mid 40's, where we belong.

Updated:
Actually, found this January 2005 Ipsos Reid poll:

Results were

Liberals - 37%
PCs - 35%
NDP - 18%
Greens - 9%
According to a new Ipsos-Reid/The Globe and Mail/CFTO/CFRB survey released today, Ontario’s Liberals, led by Premier Dalton McGuinty, have an edge (37%) over new leader John Tory’s Progressive Conservatives (35%) if an election were held in the province tomorrow. Both parties lead the NDP (18%) and the Green Party (9%). And while the new PC leader, even without a seat yet in the Legislature, has managed to pick up two points since October 2004 and come within striking distance of the Liberals, Premier McGuinty can perhaps take some comfort that this poll also finds that half of Ontarians (50%) believe he has the province on the right track (up smartly by five points since October) and almost equally as many (49%) believe his government is governing well—especially as the government hits some turbulence dealing with the provinces doctors and hospitals.
The numbers now, in context, appear more reasonable. Both parties in the mid-to-high 30's. The NDP still lagging.

What Funny Are You?

This is me. This test is pretty cool.


the Cutting Edge
(56% dark, 52% spontaneous, 38% vulgar)
your humor style:
CLEAN SPONTANEOUS DARK

Your humor's mostly innocent and off-the-cuff, but somehow there's something slightly menacing about you. Part of your humor is making people a little uncomfortable, even if the things you say aren't in and of themselves confrontational. You probably have a very dry delivery, or are seriously over-the-top. Your type is the most likely to appreciate a good insult and/or broken bone and/or very very fat person dancing.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: David Letterman - John Belushi

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

  • You scored higher than 54% on dark
  • You scored higher than 72% on spontaneous
  • You scored higher than 54% on vulgar

To take the test yourself, click the link in the title.

What Funny Are You?

This is me. This test is pretty cool.


the Cutting Edge
(56% dark, 52% spontaneous, 38% vulgar)
your humor style:
CLEAN SPONTANEOUS DARK

Your humor's mostly innocent and off-the-cuff, but somehow there's something slightly menacing about you. Part of your humor is making people a little uncomfortable, even if the things you say aren't in and of themselves confrontational. You probably have a very dry delivery, or are seriously over-the-top. Your type is the most likely to appreciate a good insult and/or broken bone and/or very very fat person dancing.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: David Letterman - John Belushi

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

  • You scored higher than 54% on dark
  • You scored higher than 72% on spontaneous
  • You scored higher than 54% on vulgar

To take the test yourself, click the link.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

CPC at 31%, Liberals at 34%

I'm going to join the throngs. The latest Environics poll shows the following results (hat tips to Bound by Gravity and Nealenews):

Liberals - 34% (-2%)
Conservatives - 31% (+1%)
NDP - 20% (+1%)
Bloc - 11% (nc)
Other - 4% (nc)
Undecided - 11% (-2%)

What does this mean? The Undecided Party are going to take the same number of seats as the Bloc. Just kidding. Seriously, the Liberal Party has launched a lawsuit against the Undecided Party for copyright infringement. Er, sorry that was sooo obvious. You could see that coming a mile off. :)
Across the country, party preferences have moved modestly in some regions. The Liberals have lost some ground in Quebec and on the Prairies, and widened their lead in the Toronto area. The Conservatives have made gains across western Canada where they had been losing ground in previous surveys. The NDP has suffered some losses in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The BQ continues to hold a massive lead in the province of Quebec.
The Conservatives are picking up support at the expense of the NDP and Liberals in the mid-west, which is some great news. As for the leaders:
The percentage of Canadians who approve of the job being done by Prime Minister Paul Martin has continued its steady year long decline and now stands at an all-time low of 41 percent. Over half of Canadians (56%) now disapprove of Paul Martin.

There has also been a steep decline in the proportion of Canadians who approve of the job being done by Conservative leader Stephen Harper. Currently, just 33 percent approve, while six in ten (59%) disapprove. As has been the case with Paul Martin, approval of Stephen Harper has been declining steadily in each survey conducted over the past year.

Approval of the job Jack Layton has done as NDP leader has risen by five points to the current level of 57 percent, making him the only national party leader who is approved of by a majority of Canadians. Three in ten Canadians (31%) disapprove of Layton.

Almost two-thirds of Quebecers (64%) approve of Gilles Duceppe as Bloc Québécois leader, up slightly from April.
There's no question that Mr. Layton is on fire. Unfortunately for him, he's unable to turn that into support for the NDP, although 20% is not bad ... The 20% is likely as a result of the "We Made Parliament Work" tag-line - the funny thing is, if the Liberals do reneg on the budget amendment as is conjectured, the NDP would be the ones to suffer for it, I bet.

Just something to talk about.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Senator Kirby Predicted Supreme Court Ruling in Quebec

Senator Michael Kirby's report into health care reforms clearly predicted the Supreme Court ruling in Quebec, and clearly indicates that a challenge could be made against the Canadian Charter as well. There are much smarter people out there than me - did somebody else notice this?

Also, it predicts the Liberal Party will ultimately allow a parallel private system. By "it" I mean "I".

Section 5.3, Timely Health Care and Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, within the report:
[I]n the Committee’s opinion, the failure to deliver timely health services in the publicly funded system, as evidenced by long waiting lists for services, is likely to lay the foundation for a successful Charter challenge to laws that prevent or impede Canadians from personally paying for medically necessary services in Canada, even if these services are included in the set of publicly insured health services.
The challenge would come against Section 7 of the Charter quoted in the report:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
The weakness in the argument is that the Charter does not provide for the "right" to provide health care:
In 1994, the Canadian Bar Association Task Force on Health Care expressed the opinion that there is no right to health care under the Charter. This conclusion was based on the view that the Charter is often interpreted as a negative rather than a positive instrument – one that generally does not compel governments to act in a particular manner, but rather protects Canadians against coercive government action.
That said, the report goes on:
In the context of health care, then, the Charter might not require governments to ensure that a certain level of health care is available in the publicly funded system, but the Charter could be employed to stop governments from taking restrictive measures that deny individuals from having the freedom to seek health care on their own in Canada when the publicly funded system fails to provide such care in a timely manner.
So, while it's okay for provinces to delist services, they then cannot say you are not allowed to access those services. Similarly, if the public system is unable to deliver those services due to long wait times, etc., and indicating that a patient cannot seek alternative remedies, that's a potential Charter violation.

And here is where Paul Martin is going to have troubles because he relies on court rulings to advance his causes:
It is the Committee’s strong belief that governments should not be passive and wait for the courts to determine how Canadians will gain timely access to medically necessary care. The time has come when governments must address the waiting time problem.
Remember, this report was issued in October of 2002.

The Quebec Supreme court ruling came on June 9, 2005. So, the report predicted almost 3 years in advance the court ruling striking down a government's inability to adequately deliver health care services. Either that, or the Supreme Court reviewed the report.

And, I'd like to once again draw attention to the fact that I again came independently to the same conclusion that the report did to avoid a "parallel" system:
The Committee’s preferred approach to solve the problem of long waiting times, and thus avoid the development of a parallel private system, is twofold: first, more money must be invested in health care for the purposes described in the other chapters of this report; and second, governments must establish a national health care guarantee – a set of nationwide standards for timely access to key health services
Can we fund the existing health care model, as proposed in option one? I have to assume not, because if I believe my "moderate, mainstream, Canadian-value centred" Liberal Party, the government would have done so, instead of flitting money on $2 billion gun registries and advertising programs in Quebec.

I know a certain federal party that does want to ensure the survival and strengthen the public health care system and they're here.

Again,
the full report is here:

Interesting LCBO Observations

I was browsing through the LCBO and I noticed that a bottle of Cabo Wabo tequila is $90 (nine-zero) and a bottle of Havana Club 7-year old dark rum is $23. In Cuba, it's $8 US.

Morals of the story:

Sammy Hagar thinks way too highly of himself.

Capitalism only works in theory.

Next Governor General

I just had a thought, (Globe & Mail, Clarkson's successor likely to be Quebec woman)
With the Prime Minister's Office indicating a new governor-general will be named shortly, speculation by vice-regal watchers is now focusing on Quebec — which hasn't produced a governor-general in 15 years — and a francophone woman.
Quebec. Francophone. Woman.

Our next Governor General can be found
here.

You heard it here first.

:)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Health Care Guarantees

What I called for here and here is getting kicked around again in the media and if the story is true, even politicians are getting in on the act. I'm impressed that I seem to have come to the same conclusion as Liberal Senator Michael Kirby's proposed reforms to health care independently (Globe & Mail, Satisfaction guaranteed):

Officially, Ottawa and the provinces are still in denial. But, privately, political insiders are whispering two little words that could mean the world to fretful patients on waiting lists: care guarantees.

...

The care guarantee sounds simple. But when Michael Kirby, chairman of the Senate social affairs committee, first suggested it in 2002, both Ottawa and the provinces regarded it as radical therapy. Basically, the idea is that governments would establish maximum wait times for a procedure -- and then pay for patients to receive care in other provinces or the United States if that deadline is exceeded.

This, in my opinion seems fair and reasonable. If the government cannot deliver the health care required, then the patient should not suffer "just because". I think if a certain federal party that's near and dear to me were to take a look at this, and make it one of the cornerstones of a certain health care policy that seems to jive with it ... it might be a good thing and not in a creepy Martha Stewart way.

I'm going to take a read through Senator Kirby's full report and to see what other recommendations are made. This report was made two-and-a-half years ago - I wonder if there's a something out there that can tell us what was implemented and what wasn't. The care guarantees weren't, but it's a big report - something from the report must have been implemented.

The full report is here:

The section on the Health Care Guarantee can be found in Section III.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bill Graham on Hans Island

Minister of National Defense Bill Graham defended Canadian sovereignty on Hans Island recently:

A helicopter set him down on the round, windswept rock about the size of a football field, located between Greenland and Ellesmere Island.

"I'm here to reassert Canadian sovereignty over this island and reconfirm the Canadian government's committment to defending our territorial integrity," Graham said.

"In the past, there has been some question as to the validity of Canada's claim to this island ...

"I'm here to dig up a bottle of brandy, and bury a Loonie at the bottom of this Canadian flag."

Then, I woke up.

Here's what really happened (Canadian Press, via Yahoo! News, Hands off Hans island, defence minister signals to Denmark):
A helicopter set him down on the round, windswept rock about the size of a football field, located between Greenland and Ellesmere Island.

"I wasn't there to make some big dramatic statement," Graham told The Canadian Press.

"My act of going there was totally consistent with the fact that Canada has always regarded this island as a part of Canada. . .

"I was just visiting Hans Island the way I visited other facilities of Canada's."

Rrrriiiigggghhhhtttt.

In the meantime, Denmark has lodged a formal protest note to Canada asserting they control Hans Island.

Bill Graham responded, "A letter? I get letters all the time. It's consistent with the fact that I have a Canadian postal address that I will receive letters."

Seriously, we need to be stronger and we need to be more direct on this issue. I want drama.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ponderings

Things that made me say, "Hmmmmm" today:

How do you know when blue cheese is bad?*

How do you prove that the sky is blue in your universe when it's midnight?

*On aside, apparently it just gets better the older it gets. I suppose when it turns into one big pile of mold is when it's done.

From, "Marriage, that sacred arrangement..."

Stumbled upon this blog, Notes from an Exile, and specifically this post, Marriage, that sacred arrangement....

The author is from Australia New Zealand and has since moved to Canada, Montreal specifically. In this piece, she describes how proud she is of Canada for adopting gay marriage and how she describes her thoughts on it.

Not once does she mention the politics or the debates or the bickering, just what occurred to her mindset when it was realized.

The paragraph that hit me the most was this one:
Sometimes we are struck by the fact that there are those out there in the wide world who would view our union (this beautiful, tenous thing that exists between us; this communion that sustains us; this amazing gift that we hold gently in our hands and marvel at every day of our lives) - as something abhorrent. Shameful. Unnatural.
In light of the events of recent days, we may be better off not quickly identifying so many things as abhorrent, shameful, or unnatural and just concentrate on eliminating the really horrible things the world is throwing at us.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Egypt Bombings

My thoughts and prayers to all those attacked in Egypt.

It seems like it's going to get worse before it gets better.

No CCTV in GO Train Concourse at Toronto's Union Station

Following the story about the bomb threat hoax at the TD Centre yesterday, because it's near and dear to yours truly, today's Globe & Mail indicates that the police had traced the source of the phone calls placed to the Globe and to the police to a pay phone in the GO Train concourse of Toronto's Union Station. And, as this point says, there are no surveillance cameras in the concourse (Globe & Mail, Bomb hoax targets TD Centre complex)
The crowds in the GO Transit concourse gave the caller near-complete anonymity. While police arrived quickly to seal off the phone with yellow police tape, none of the fast-food clerks and lottery vendors nearby said they noticed anything suspicious. There are no surveillance cameras on the concourse, but a police forensics team was gathering evidence at the site.
I was surprised by this because I just assumed there was surveillance cameras on the concourse.

For those not familiar, Union Station in downtown Toronto is a central hub where VIA, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and GO Train (Ontario's commuter rail service) converge. The GO Train concourse is the starting point where you can purchase tickets, there are some fast food and convenience store outlets leading to the GO Train platforms.

Security concerns at Union Station were recently reported when a CBC reporter was able to drop a backpack off in a cargo area without a ticket (CBC, Patchwork security at Union Station unforgiveable: expert).

Now, I say I'm surprised because at the suburban GO Train stations there are CCTV cameras and monitors on the platform and in the station.

And, I could have sworn I saw banks of monitors in the GO Train concourse behind a great big mirrored-wall that must be hooked up to cameras somewhere. Just the platforms maybe?

Why wouldn't we have a camera on the payphones?

Friday, July 22, 2005

The New Reality?

You're probably not aware, but the Toronto-Dominion Centre in downtown Toronto was the target of a bomb threat today. For awhile, it wasn't even in the news. Now I see it is (Globe & Mail, TD building target of bomb threat)

What makes this bomb threat different is that it was in close proximity to me. By "close proximity", I was one of the "confused employees" referred to in the piece, although I wasn't on the ground out of my building till 2:22 pm (I checked the time so I could note the what time it was if something happened).

Starting at about 11 or so, I could see people streaming into the TD Centre courtyard. I went for lunch at about 12:30 pm, and got back to my desk at about 1:30 pm ... There were still a lot of people milling around, I just thought it was a fire drill. Got back to my desk worked for a bit, decided to grab a coffee (at about 2 pm), that's when we were told to leave the building.

I can attest to the "no communication" part too in the piece.

It does make you think, "What would you do?".

Here's what I did.

I left the building, went and downed a pint of Guinness, got on the next train home.

I'm ready to start the whole thing over again on Monday.

Communication needs to be better, if I can offer a suggestion.

This is, afterall, the new reality.

James Doohan - b. March 3, 1920; d. July 20, 2005

From StarTrek.com:
We are deeply saddened to report that James Doohan, the beloved actor who portrayed engineer "Montgomery Scott" in the original Star Trek and seven movies, has passed away. He was 85.

Doohan died in his sleep at his home in Redmond, Washington, at 5:30 a.m. local time with his wife Wende at his side. Cause of death was pneumonia, complicated by Alzheimer's disease, according to Doohan's agent and longtime friend Steve Stevens of Los Angeles.

Private services will be held in Redmond, but a public memorial will be held in Los Angeles on a date to be announced. According to Stevens, the family will fulfill Doohan's wish to have his remains shot into space on a "Memorial Spaceflight" provided by Space Services Inc. of Houston. Similarly, a portion of Gene Roddenberry's ashes were sent on such a flight in 1997. The date of cremation and of the spaceflight are not yet known.

Doohan is survived by his wife of 28 years, Wende, and their 5-year-old daughter Sarah, along with six adult children — Larkin, Deirdre, Chris, Montgomery, Eric and Thomas — and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
More of the piece is available at http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/news/article/12920.html

James Doohan - b. March 3, 1920; d. July 20, 2005

From StarTrek.com:
We are deeply saddened to report that James Doohan, the beloved actor who portrayed engineer "Montgomery Scott" in the original Star Trek and seven movies, has passed away. He was 85.

Doohan died in his sleep at his home in Redmond, Washington, at 5:30 a.m. local time with his wife Wende at his side. Cause of death was pneumonia, complicated by Alzheimer's disease, according to Doohan's agent and longtime friend Steve Stevens of Los Angeles.

Private services will be held in Redmond, but a public memorial will be held in Los Angeles on a date to be announced. According to Stevens, the family will fulfill Doohan's wish to have his remains shot into space on a "Memorial Spaceflight" provided by Space Services Inc. of Houston. Similarly, a portion of Gene Roddenberry's ashes were sent on such a flight in 1997. The date of cremation and of the spaceflight are not yet known.

Doohan is survived by his wife of 28 years, Wende, and their 5-year-old daughter Sarah, along with six adult children — Larkin, Deirdre, Chris, Montgomery, Eric and Thomas — and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bombers Intent Confirmed - They Meant to Kill

I received the following Yahoo! News alert remarking on the purpose of the bombs that went off in the London subway today:
LONDON (AP) The London police commissioner says the intention of Thursday's attacks must have been to kill.
This was not understood? I'm not aware of bombs being set up to tickle, annoy, or disturb sleep. All bombs are designed to kill, regardless of the intentions of the bomber, regardless of the bomber's skill or their terrorism-planning ability. The fact or the presumption that the bomber did not intend to kill is irrelevant. The act of making a bomb, setting it up in public, and letting it explode means the intent was to kill.

If you commit a criminal act and if the potential for a loss of life exists, you intended to kill. This should be the default.

Temporal Distortion Imminent in North America, Premiers Warn

Am I missing the big deal here, (CTV, Canada may consider daylight time change):
Alberta is taking a wait-and-see approach to the U.S. proposal [to extend daylight saving time hours by two months. It would begin on the first weekend in March, and end the last weekend in November].

Government spokesman Shannon Haggarty says Alberta will be consulting with other provinces on the issue, but at this point there's no plan to make any changes.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says the province is examining the pros and cons of extending daylight savings time. He says Ontario doesn't want difficulties with its main trading partner, but there are environment, business, and social issues to consider before the province follows suit.

"What are the environmental ups and downs of this? What are the business pros and cons? And then what about life for families? Does it make it more or less difficult?" McGuinty said.

"We're going to have to take a look at it, obviously."

But ...

... Manitoba Premier Gary Doer supports the move to extend daylight time. Doer says business will encounter problems if Canada does not follow suit.

He also says going along with the change would have a modest impact on energy conservation in Manitoba.
Why is this a big debate? Why do Alberta and Ontario have to wait? Change the clocks.

We need to be in synch with the American economy. I don't see how changing the clocks ahead one month earlier and putting them back one month later is a big deal.

The business concerns are huge if we don't.

Short of making a few math textbooks out of date (if a train leaves Toronto at 3:00 pm and it's going 60 kph, and a train leaves New York at 4:00 pm and it's going at 75 kph, when will they meet ...), what's the big deal?

I can see the responses ...

Well, they should have consulted us first!

Sure. Let's lodge a formal diplomatic protest and we'll see how that goes - in the meantime, we should change our clocks.

I don't think this is going to cure their environmental ills.

Maybe not. Still no reason not to change our clocks.

That George Bush!

Rrrriiiigggghhhhttttt. Still no reason not to change our clocks.

GO Train Offenders Run Amok

There were a number of GO train ticket offenders on the train this morning. By my count, at least three.

The dude closest to us couldn't figure out why his ticket from Rouge Hill didn't let him ride from Pickering. See map as reference:

GO Transit System Map

Anyway, his reason was that because the GO Train was express from Pickering to Union, and he lived in Rouge Hill; he could get on at Pickering since, well, he had a ticket covering 90% of the ride.

That takes gonads.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

When Political Correctness Goes Too Far

My Toronto includes Natalie Glebova (CBC News, Toronto gives Miss Universe cold shoulder):
The city of Toronto, which years ago prevented the Barenaked Ladies from playing at City Hall because of the group's name, has now barred Miss Universe from opening a festival over concerns about sexual stereotyping.
She may still officiate at the ceremony provided she does not wear her tiara, does not wear her sash, nor can she refer to herself as Miss Universe or as a beauty queen. Those are the rules at Red Tiananmen Nathan Phillips Square. To change the rules, requires an amendment to the by-law.

Come on, folks.

Update (July 19, 2005 - 6:34 pm): Toronto Mayor David Miller has overruled the by-law decision (CBC Toronto,
Toronto apology for banning Miss Universe from city hall):
Mayor David Miller issued an apology Tuesday to Miss Universe after the city barred her from opening a festival over concerns about sexual stereotyping.

...

Miller said that it was all a mistake and an overreaction on someone's part. "[It's] certainly not the way I read the bylaw," said Miller. "I don't think it's appropriate. She should have been allowed to come to city hall."

"She's from Toronto, we should be proud that somebody from Toronto has won an international competition. I've spoken to the city manager and this kind of interpretation won't happen again."
Thank you, Mr. Miller, and please give that city manager a good throttling.

Monday, July 18, 2005

"Progressive" Liberals Need to Be Clearer Than This

This isn't going to resonate with many of my readers, but you know how "liberal" I think.

Splashed upon the front page of the Globe & Mail is the headline "Same-sex marriage bill must stand, majority say" and a story of how recently a poll shows that 55% of Canadians do not want the same-sex legislation appealed. Hurrah, I say. I'm for it and I don't think it should be repealed. I'd like the Conservative Party to drop their opposition to it.

But, buried deep within the article is this tidbit that would have have garnered the following headline, "Same-sex adoption should be disallowed, majority say".

In a related question, 51 per cent of those surveyed said they do not support the idea of allowing gay couples to legally adopt, while 46 per cent said they do

Mr. Woolstencroft said he was surprised by the high level of support for the idea. Adoption falls under provincial jurisdiction and laws dealing with gay adoption are a patchwork across the country.

Please allow me to address this on a couple of fronts. I assume that the poll is accurate - that means, if we are to assume that a majority of Canadians (55%) support same-sex marriage, then a majority (51%) don't support same-sex adoption - I don't know what to call it.

On a logical level, this poll is irrelevant - it's a matter of human rights so what the majority thinks does not matter. This is only news because Mr. Harper and a majority of the Conservative caucus opposes it (also, almost a quarter of Liberals, 1/19th of Dippers, etc.). In fact, the sub-headline is "In wake of Tory vow to repeal legislation, poll suggests 55 per cent want it untouched." I think it is published to show how the Conservative Party is wrong to suggest repealing this legislation.

But wait, you can't have it both ways. Would the Conservative Party be right in legislating that adoption applicants can only be non-homosexual couples (or singles)?

More importantly, isn't the Liberal government
wrong for not ensuring that adoption rights are ensured for same-sex couples across Canada? I'm getting mixed messages here. I'm told night and day how the Liberal Party stands up for human rights - how could a party with such a social conscience let this slip unanswered? Specifically, how can the Liberal Party allow a majority to dictate human rights issues?

I took a look at three adoption policies across Canada - Ontario, Alberta, and PEI. Now, I picked on Alberta and PEI particularly because they had not begun allowing same-sex marriage when C-38 was passed.

Of the three, only Ontario makes a specific mention of not being discriminatory against sexual orientation, "How to Adopt a Child in Ontario":
All Ontario residents are able to adopt a child without discrimination on the basis of such factors as race, religion, age, ethnic origin, mental/physical disability, gender, sexual orientation, or marital status. In intercountry adoptions, the Ministry makes every effort to ensure that adoptive applicants are informed about the laws, requirements, and eligibility criteria of the foreign jurisdiction.
Alberta and PEI do not specifically mention that same-sex couples cannot adopt but they do not mention that they cannot be discriminated against, either [ed note - double check that for me and post any corrections in the comments].

Wouldn't it be amazing if Paul Martin actually proposed legislation that progressed human rights that didn't have the apparent endorsement of a majority of Canadians OR didn't come after a Supreme Court ruling?

Nah, it will never happen - that's not how this government works.

Update (July 19, 8:16 am): CTV doesn't mention the results of the adoption poll in their reporting of this item (CTV, Most Canadians want same-sex bill to stand: poll).

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Friday, July 15, 2005

How Will I Die?


How Will You Die??
created with QuizFarm.com

You scored as Gunshot. Your death will be by gunshot, probably because you are some important person or whatever. Possibly a sniper, nice, quick, clean shot to the head. Just beautiful.


Mr. Grewal - Grey Skies are Clearing

Wow. I just read a post over at Small Dead Animals, Letter to Terry Milewski that is making it clearer that Mr. Grewal did not do anything underhanded with the cheques.

I'll join the chorus. I still stand by my original thoughts about the idea that the delivery of the message is as important as the message, but it looks like the clouds are lightening up over Mr. Grewal.

I apologize for calling for his head.

Don't thump me. :)

Alberta Health Reform - "Action 4-12"

While it seemed like a good idea at first, there are 12 action points, and nobody wants to read me say "That's a good idea," 55 times ;-) . What I've done is reviewed all the remaining action steps and then I'll comment on the problem ones or potential problem ones (as I see it). Same assumption as before (I'm from Ontario, etc.).
[Action 5] Launch the Mental Health Innovation Fund
With $25 million a year for the next three years, regional health authorities will be able to expand access to mental health services and test new approaches such as telehealth, community extension teams, day and community support programs, and better linkages with hospitals.
If I can use my experience with Telehealth Ontario, I'd like to make a suggestion for a telehealth service in Alberta. Make sure that the nurses and/or health professionals that are on the line are up-to-date with the latest medical information. I remember calling them when I saw that a prescription medicine I was on was reported to have a side effect. Now, the side effect was not found to effect me, it was with children, but I was concerned. So, I called Telehealth Ontario and she told me to go see my doctor. I could have given myself that advice - I was looking for information on the drug side effects. Anyway, that's my advice for a Telehealth Alberta initiative.
Action 7: Expand Primary Health Care
[I]nstead of going to your family doctor, then being sent to a specialist, a dietician, a pharmacist, or a physiotherapist, how would you like to go to a clinic run by a team of people who put your health needs first? If it’s the family doctor you need, that’s the service you’ll get. But if a nurse practitioner or a pharmacist can answer your questions, that service would be there. And if you have a chronic illness like asthma or diabetes, a team of people would be there to provide support, advice and care. That’s what primary health care is about. And this kind of comprehensive, coordinated approach would be available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Primary health care means better care for Albertans and, while there are some pilot projects in place, it’s time to expand the approach to more Albertans and more communities across the province.
We have this in Ontario now, and in fact, I just joined my family doctor's "Family Health Team". It included my family doctor, the other GPs, the specialists in the office, the 24 hour clinic downstairs, the lab down the hall and a pharmacy. Seems like a good idea - for the libertarians out there, keep in mind that when you sign up you give your doctor the authority to share your medical files with all of the other doctors within the team. If you're concerned by too many people seeing your medical history, you'll want to talk to your doctor. At least that's the case in the Ontario model, but I would imagine the same would apply in Alberta.

Now comes the meat of the debate:
[Action 8] Provide choices in paying for supplementary health services
Instead of having to pay directly, Albertans can use secondary insurance to help pay for podiatry and chiropractic services beyond what’s covered by Alberta health care.
This is the case here in Ontario, and it follows my belief and I think the general understanding that if the province does not cover certain health care, it can be paid for by the patient.
Provide choice in enhanced medical goods and services
People will be able to choose enhanced medical goods and services beyond what doctors decide is medically necessary – for example, a special kind of hip replacement. Regional health authorities will be able to charge reasonable fees for enhanced goods and services over and above basic services.
I think for me to buy into this, we have to define what is "beyond" medically necessary. I think this needs to be defined crystal clear because I don't want public health to be paying for bare minimums when better treatments are available. I would argue that:
  • If the procedure is not approved and is medically ethical (say, undergoing medical experimentation), then the patient can choose to pursue it at their own expense.
  • If the wait time to procure a procedure is too excessive, then the patient can pursue a private solution at their own expense.
  • The requiring government level to approve the treatment (new drug, procedure, etc.) will endeavour to make the new procedure fall under basic medical coverage as soon as it is proven to be the best solution. What I'm afraid here, is that if we have a bare procedure coming in, and then a better solution becomes available, the government will not approve it on the basis of cost. See this case in Ontario (Private clinic in Toronto to offer costly cancer drugs). The private clinic will provide drugs that Ontario will not (but Health Canada has approved). I'm afraid that while Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman indicates that it's got to be worked through the approval process - granted - but I hope there's no delay because of the cost.
  • The market will be free to provide supplementary insurance to provide for services not offered or approved by the government.
As if in response to my third bullet, maybe ...
A Healthcare Assurance Act could:
Put a strong emphasis on quality and require all aspects of the health system to meet certain standards and guidelines, protocols and best practices
This may address my third bullet point above.

All-in-all, I think this proposal is good. If I were an Albertan I'd be happy with this set of reforms with the caveats I've noted in this and previous posts.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Liberals Mulling Own Defeat ... Again?

This story came out yesterday, but for some reason I'm experiencing deja vu. Reuters released details of a discussion with a Liberal Party strategist (Reuters via Yahoo! News, Liberals mull bringing themselves down):
Having fought all spring to save their minority government, Liberals are now mulling the tricky question of whether to allow their own downfall in the autumn to take advantage of polling strength.

...

[Prime Minister Paul Martin's] team recognizes that if he openly calls an election before that report, or puts forward legislation obviously designed to fail, it may look opportunistic.

But it may be tempting, given the reversal in fortunes of the main opposition Conservatives. They led by as much as 11 percentage points when the kickback scandal's most serious allegations emerged in April.
Mr. Martin will be hard-pressed not to look opportunistic; especially if he decides to say use the Alberta health care reform (considering his Health Minister, doesn't immediately dismiss it - Statement from Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh on Alberta's Third Way Announcement).

A mini-budget is unnecessary, so he won't do that.

If Mr. Martin wants to bring down his own government, he will need to bring about legislation that will be defeated by all parties. I had originally indicated, that maybe some kind of health care reform to counteract the Supreme Court ruling that doesn't please anyone - but given Mr. Dosanjh's response to Alberta, that would just be blatant.

What I'm thinking he could do is re-introduce those corporate tax cuts he originally took out of the budget. It would be a matter of spending, so it should be a motion of confidence. I thought about the bank merger legislation, but that wouldn't be a confidence motion.

The NDP and the Bloc will not support corporate tax cuts. The Conservatives will, but they won't support legislation that won't go deep enough to bring tax relief to middle income Canadians.

It would be hard to spin that as not being opportunistic, though. And then, if he is defeated on tax cut legislation, he wouldn't have anything to wave a "We are Canada" flag about.

But, if they could engineer their defeat, it would be gold for the Liberals if they miraculously somehow manage a majority before Gomery releases his report. They would remain in power through Gomery and even if they were found to be partly responsible - especially Mr. Martin as Finance Minister - there'd be nothing we could do to get them out.

I'd like to wait till after Gomery, personally.

Update: Mr. Martin is re-affirming that he will not call an election before Gomery (Reuters, via Yahoo! News: Paul Martin said not contemplating early election)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Alberta Health Reform - "Action 3"

Continues ... Action 3.
Action 3: Get serious about wellness and injury prevention
The best thing we can do to improve the health of Albertans and drive down spiralling health care costs is to encourage people to stay healthy. That means individual Albertans have to take responsibility for their own health. And it means government, health regions, and other partners have to step up their efforts to create one of the healthiest populations in the world.

September 2005 Recognize employers who promote healthy workplaces. Special awards will recognize employers for their initiatives to promote health in the workplace.
This is good, in theory. I think there is the possibility for abuse like JobsOntario was in Ontario, where the Bob Rae NDP government gave grants to companies for creating jobs. Employers were hiring left, right, and centre - not usually for meaningful work, and not usually for long. I think when I was a university co-op student, I was a JobsOntario grant. It will be interesting to see how they manage this.
October 2005 Announce second phase of Healthy U campaign
Phase 2 will build on the media campaign, website, Community Choosewell Challenge program, and other Healthy U initiatives and add a special focus on healthy eating and physical activity for young children.
This is an existing campaign - again, I'm not familiar with Phase 1.
Fall 2005 Legislate the use of booster seats for children
We’ve learned to buckle up and put babies in car seats, now it’s time to protect children by using booster seats.
Fall 2005 Step up public information and involve other ministries and agencies in promoting injury prevention
Every household will receive information about their health care costs and what people can do to stay healthy.

Fall 2005 Tackle HIV, Hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases
A new strategy will be launched to prevent and reduce the spread of these diseases.

Fall 2005 Launch a study on incentives to stay healthy
Would tax incentives or other kinds of benefits encourage people to stay healthy? What are the pros and cons? We’ll address those questions through a comprehensive study.
Legislate booster seat use. Interesting, I like it. I'd be curious to see the stats on injuries as a result of children not sitting up properly in cars.

Incentives for staying healthy? Thoughts:
  • I would think removing sales tax on healthy food alternatives would be good - but I think Alberta's PST is at 0%. For low income families this is a good thing, as most high nutritious foods, like fruit and vegetables, tend to be the most expensive. Maybe some kind of "reverse tax" at the cash register. 2% for healthy foods, 4% for healthy foods grown in Alberta and/or Canada.
  • A tax receipt for a gym membership? Not at a chain gym, like GoodLife or Bally's - too expensive, and not everybody can take advantage. But, what about a tax reduction if you get a gym membership at a community centre gym?
  • More realistic might be a tax deduction for swimming lessons, skating lessons, community sports - soccer, baseball, etc.?
  • Increased sin taxes, on cigarettes and alcohol? Never popular, but easily justifiable. I'm not a smoker, but I like alcohol - but I know it's not growing hair on my head.
That one is going to be interesting.
In 2006 Announce a new immunization strategy
All children should have access to routine childhood immunizations. The new strategy will make sure they do.
Excellent.
January 2006 Proclaim the Smoke Free Places Act
The new Smoke Free Places Act will be officially proclaimed and in force across the province.
Yes. I think this should be made national. If there's one thing I'd like to see is a ban on smoking in and around children and non-smokers.

Action 4, coming soon.

Alberta Health Reform - "Action 2"

Continuing with the same premise as discussed in Alberta Health Reform - "Action 1", I'll take a look at Action 2.

Action 2: Improve access and efficiency
Ask Albertans what their number one concern is with health care and the answer is clear – it’s access. While there’s no doubt people get immediate care when there’s an emergency, too often people wait too long for MRIs, for hip and knee replacements, for heart surgery or cancer treatments. Through a series of pilot projects, physicians, health authorities and the province are working together to streamline the process, get rid of bottlenecks, and speed up access to important health services.

Summer 2005
Announce changes to the Alberta Waitlist Registry

Albertans can check the Alberta Waitlist Registry for more information about waiting times for key treatments and services. With changes this summer, the Registry will also link directly to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta so that patients can see information about individual surgeons.

That's reasonable. I guess this is more informative - but, I'd like to see guidelines around what constitutes a reasonable wait time. Across Canada, not just Alberta.

Although, I'm not familiar with the Alberta Waitlist Registry. What does it do?

Now to 2006
Launch pilot projects to remove inefficiencies and speed up access

April 2005 – A new pilot project provides centralized booking for hip and knee replacements and speeds up access
Late 2005 – Launch a similar project for coronary artery bypass surgery
Early 2006 – Breast cancer care project and project for MRIs and CT scans begins
2006 – Projects for prostate cancer care, children’s mental health services, and cataract surgery begin
Pretty good stuff here. Centralized booking for all procedures would make it, at least appear, more efficient.

Action 3 later.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Alberta Health Reform - "Action 1"

As promised, I thought I'd do some commentary on the new health care proposal released by the Albertan government today. As a preamble, I'm not from Alberta - so my commentary is based upon an Ontarian's point of view. Also, I've refrained from reading stories on this and listening to the news. I think I saw the National Post headline said "more health care for the wealthy".

I assume that the governments and medical professional administering the health care services has a willingness to help their citizens and patients respectively and that there are no evil machinations.

I am also making commentary on a section by section basis, so you're not allowed to say, "But Section XX contradicts what you're saying."

Anyway, here goes.
Action 1: Put an Overall Health Policy in Place
Alberta is following through on the direction set in the Mazankowski report and we’re determined to finish the job. To do that, and do it well, we need an overall health policy that focuses on wellness and personal responsibility, defines what services are included in the publicly-funded health system, guides our decisions and sets clear priorities.
Go Alberta. :-)
October 2005 - Announce a new Health Policy Framework
I have no idea what that means, but it's coming this October.
January 2006 - Announce a new Health Services Plan to be developed by health boards across the province. The new services plan will identify what health services Albertans can expect to receive, how quickly, and where.
I kind of like this in theory. It stands to reason that people know what's covered and where the treatment is available.

On the "how quickly" part, I've thought about if it's possible that a contract could be developed between the government, doctors, and patients to define what are medically realistic wait times.

I understand that each procedure and patient is different, but I think there are possibly general guidelines that likely could be followed when determining how long a wait time is reasonable. Let me throw something out there.
  • If the public system can deliver within the medically defined acceptable time period for the procedure, then the patient must elect for public care.
  • If the public system cannot deliver within the medically defined reasonable time period, then the patient may elect for private carewith the portion covered by public health care covered by tax funds.
  • If the public system does not deliver the required/optional medical treatment, then the patient can elect for private care.
  • If the private system has a new or experimental procedure not approved for use by the public system, then the patient may elect for private care.
Administration and licensing of private facilities will be with the provincial ministry of health.

Now, how do we define "reasonable" time period? I don't think every procedure needs to be handled immediately, but general guidelines could be developed that covers criticality and quality of life. This is aside from life-threatening cases which should be handled immediately.

I don't feel comfortable entirely with the notion of letting people choose private health care outside of this system. That's based more on my not knowing the intimate details of either side.
In 2006 - Develop a new Public Health Strategic Plan focusing on what needs to be done to protect the overall health of Albertans.
Okay. Alberta wants to develop a strategy to help people avoid using the health care system. That's seems reasonable. Short of specifics, though.
In 2006 - Develop and implement a Provincial Research Strategy to ensure research guides clinical and administrative practice. Promote Alberta's health sector as a significant provincial economic driver.
I think this would tie into the strategy for the where, when, and how. Continued monitoring of new research and new innovations to redefine policy.

Interesting that they'd put in that the health sector as a significant provincial economic driver. I'm not sure what that means either. Are we talking health practise innovation, or pharmaceutical innovation, or ... I don't know.


Update (July 13, 2005 - 9:10 am): In my list above, I mentioned where the public and the private systems could be used. I have added one more for discussion.
  • If the private system has a new or experimental procedure not approved for use by the public system, then the patient may elect for private care.

Alberta Launches Proposal for "Third Way" for Health Care Delivery

I guess the big breaking news is that Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has released his proposal for a "third way" to deliver health care services in Alberta.

I plan on reviewing the plan and hopefully will provide commentary later.

Links in the mean time:

Later.

Blog Post Clean-Up

Over the next couple of days, I'm going to be purging some of the posts in this blog. I don't know if too many people read this one as fervantly as I'd like, but that's okay.

In the meantime, head over to my political blog,
The Progressive Right, where I'll post some items of a political nature.

First step on the blog clean-up, is I'm going to get rid of the political items, and the not so funny posts.

No Warm and Fuzzy from Anne McLellan

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan was in Toronto speaking at an international conference on disaster management. She said (National Post, Canadians not mentally ready: McLellan):
Canadians need to abandon the notion that their country is invulnerable to terrorism in order to be better prepared for an attack like the one that struck London last week, federal Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said Monday.
I agree - I think it's naive to think we're immune. Further:
Experience has prepared Canada well for natural disasters such as floods, ice storms and hurricanes, and the SARS outbreak two years ago has sharpened the country's ability to respond to the threat of infectious diseases, she noted.
Great. What are we to do to prepare ourselves? (CBC Toronto, Canadians should brace for attacks: McLellan):
[T]he best you can do is collect the best intelligence, assess the risks, and hope that you've got the right infrastructure with the right safety mechanisms.
Right. I feel better already. Can we have an alternative option? I think we can be a little more proactive in our defence, both against overt and covert threats.

Let's shore up our military such that it's available and able to withstand any overt threats to our sovereignty. That's what a military is for. We should not have to deal with broken down helicopters and submarines that fail when they're put into the water. I don't think we need aircraft carriers and ballistic missile cruisers, but let's lead with some innovation - invest in newer, safer equipment that will do the job we need it too.

It's disheartening when you have Denmark laying claim to part of your country and not being able to do a thing about it except lodging a diplomatic protest (Naval Officer's Association of Canada, The Return of the Vikings). I want the next Spanish or Portuguese fishing boat that comes within the 200 mile limit to really think twice. I don't want us dropping Canadian flags when the US Navy decides to declare the Northwest Passage "international waters" (Washington Post, Northwest Passage redux).

As for covert threats, let's be innovators. Ms. McLellan indicates that we have experience in dealing with natural disasters. Well, let's use world events to train police and soldiers how to deal with these things. Let's be the go-to guys for anti-terrorist strategies. Why not? Let's make CSIS and the RCMP the leaders in fighting terrorism - give them the resources, the field experience necessary.

Maybe then, we can sniff out the signs of an impending act of terrorism before we have to find out how we'd react. Maybe.

What Are You Doing Mr. Grewal?

This guy is cropping up too much (CBC Online, Grewal's election expenses under scrutiny):
Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal is at the centre of another political storm. CBC News has learned that he is being investigated by the RCMP over irregularities in his 2004 election expenses.
The article goes on to allege that campaign contributions made to Mr. Grewal were not directed to the Conservative Party or to his campaign.

If the allegations are true, then Mr. Grewal needs to be out of caucus.

Now, I'm not letting Mr. Dosanjh off the hook - but, Mr. Grewal is just becoming too much of a nightmare. I cringe every time I see his name in the news.

Mr. Grewal should step aside, until the allegations can be sorted out. If he's vindicated, so much the better - but right now, it doesn't look good.

Updated (July 12, 2005 - 8:33): I just noticed that Bound by Gravity also wrote on this same article, and I think I'm inclined to agree with Andrew:

Continuing to support Grewal by allowing him to retain his status as a Conservative MP cannot continue - he is sliming the party with his presence.
I think the Conservative Party and Mr. Grewal must be separated while they sort this mess out. Mr. Harper should stop supporting MPs that don't stay on message or even appear not to stay on message.

Updated (July 12, 2005 - 10:23): I was called to task, and I think it's fair to point out that these campaign fund things can go wrong and likely do for a lot of politicians - wrong accounts, no receipts, etc. Mr. Grewal is under far more scrutiny and public attention then other politicians. That's true.

As mentioned in the comments section, unfortunately in politics, the delivery of the message is sometimes as important as the message itself, and if we appear to be off message, it doesn't bode good.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Chuck Cadman

Independent MP, Chuck Cadman has passed away at the age of 57. From CBC:

Independent MP Chuck Cadman, who cast the deciding vote that let Paul Martin's minority Liberal government survive a confidence motion in May, has died of skin cancer.

Cadman, 57, died on Saturday with his wife at his side at his home in Surrey, B.C., his office said in a news release.

He had been battling the disease for two years.

Cadman, first elected in 1997, represented the riding of Surrey North near Vancouver.

He belonged to the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties before running as an independent.

Cadman played a pivotal role in averting a snap election on May 19, when he sided with Prime Minister Paul Martin and the Liberals in a confidence vote.

His support gave the Liberals the razor-thin margin they needed to survive as the House voted 152-152 on Bill C-48, a budget amendment that added $4.6 billion in social program spending and delayed corporate tax cuts.

Speaker of the House Peter Milliken, who is a Liberal MP, broke the tie by voting for the budget.

Cadman flew to Ottawa for the vote despite having undergone chemotherapy for malignant melanoma only a short time earlier.

He said he supported the budget bill on behalf of his constituents, who largely opposed the calling of an election so soon after the last one.

My condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Cadman.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Layton: Praised For Doing Something, Maybe, He's Not Sure

Time to inject a little humour. NDP leader Jack Layton got a strong message that the Assembly of First Nations is behind him (Strong show of support for NDP at First Nations assembly):
An appearance by federal NDP leader Jack Layton at the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting on Wednesday provided graphic evidence of the kind of support the party enjoys among aboriginal Canadians. Layton received a standing ovation from chiefs and observers from across the country.
He thinks he knows what the applause was for, he's just not sure:
Layton said he demanded that Prime Minister Paul Martin spend more on aboriginal housing and post secondary education.

...

But Layton later said that the government has not yet said how much of that money will be earmarked for aboriginal programs.
I wonder if Mr. Layton was in the room when Paul Martin and Buzz Hargrove negotiated the budget amendment. I mean, this is a great day for the Assembly of First Nations. Maybe. Jack doesn't know yet. Jack is on top of First Nations issues. He thinks. He remembers asking, and looking over to make sure Buzz was nodding his approval ...

Oh, but he'll be back for sure at the next round:
"The AFN is talking about a third or more of the housing going toward aboriginal housing. I think that's a reasonable demand," Layton told hundreds of delegates gathered in Yellowknife for annual assembly.

Layton says he will pressure the prime minister to meet that demand.
... By threatening another all day session with Buzz Hargrove.

Did I miss the by-election that saw Mr. Hargrove elected leader of the NDP?

I miss Ed already.

63% of Canadians Would Pay for Health Care

The Conservative Party, as I mentioned in a post previously, must make their health policy known to Canadians if the results of this poll are accurate (Globe & Mail, Majority would pay for faster health care, poll finds):
  • 63% "would be willing to 'pay out of pocket' to gain faster access to medical services for themselves or their family members."
  • 55% "of Canadians agree with the Supreme Court decision that they should have the right to buy private health insurance if the public system cannot provide medical services in a timely fashion."
  • 73% "believed that the ruling was a step toward creating a two-tiered health-care system in the country."

The polling firm concludes that Canadians want flexibility.

So, despite Mr. Martin's assertion that nobody wants two-tiered health care (Globe & Mail, Martin vows strong, universal health-care), 55% want it for when the public health care system fails, and 63% are willing to pay if given the option.

An argument against this has been presented in the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada:

In 2001, 31 per cent of Canadians said they supported a “two-tiered” or “parallel” system when this option was framed as relieving pressure on the existing public system. Various questions have been asked of the public regarding privatization and two-tiered health care since 1998, and despite intense media coverage during this period on challenges to the system, support for private models has never inched beyond one-third of the Canadian population.

It goes on to indicate that 73% of Canadians support it when the system fails:

Yet, the report also found that most people are “sensitive to the desire among many Canadians to spend their own money if they are facing a lengthy wait for treatment.” When asked if people should be allowed to have the option of using private health facilities, with their own resources, if they cannot get timely access to the public health care system, 73 per cent of respondents responded affirmatively.

What does all this mean?

The Supreme Court ruling has cut through the left wing rhetoric of "private health care is bad". When faced with a rational and cool presentation of the potential merits of a parallel system, Canadians naturally react positively.

At least two-thirds of Canadians (between 63% and 73%) still believe that a parallel system can relieve the maladies plaguing the current health care system, and more than half are willing to pay out of pocket to make their lives healthier.

We should debate the merits of a parallel system with the understanding that nobody is suggesting that we shut down the public health care system. Stifling the debate is costing us.

Canadians want flexibility.