Showing posts from February, 2010

The five-point health care fix.

Somewhat refreshing to see an article that makes sensible recommendations for health care reform without starting with the premise that what we need to do is privatize as much as possible and offload costs from the government to the individual health care consumer. While rising health costs are certainly a problem there is no need to slash coverage. Certainly the US system is very much more expensive than ours and less equitable with poorer overall results. Ours may not be the best system in the world but for the ordinary citizen it is superior to the US and ranked much higher by the WHO. I am always amazed when US politicians claim that the US system is the best health care system in the world. Certainly it is a very good system if you have lots of money for high quality health insurance but otherwise it is not that great at all and it costs the US taxpayer much more than most advanced capitalist countries pay for equal or better quality care.
The five-point health fix
It’s not imp…

Half of Canadians Unhappy with both PM and Ignatieff

Even though Canadians are unhappy polls do not show much movement away from the two party system to the NDP, Greens, or other parties. I have never understood why this is so. A lot of people claim that a vote for a third party is wasted at least in areas where third parties will not win. Strangely enough one does not hear that about voting Liberal in an area that is sure to see a Conservative win or vice versa. Some people want to be on the winning side and end up voting for a person whose policies may be quite different than the person who votes for the person just to be on the winning side. These polls ensure that Harper is safe from an election this Spring unless he provokes Ignatieff to such a degree that he has to vote against the government. Of course it is always possible that Harper could do something that makes him quite vulnerable but his close calls last year and late 2008 should teach him to be a bit more cautious.

Half of Canadians unhappy with PM, Ignatieff: poll


Danny Williams could have had his surgery done in Canada

Here is the evidence.

However, Dr. Asim Cheema, a cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, told QMI Agency that mitral valve repair is routinely performed in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.Williams told NTV that his doctor recommended he have it done at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Fla., where the procedure is minimally invasive. The ailing premier talked about his medical ordeal for the first time Monday in an interview with NTV, a private TV station in St. John’s, N.L.

Williams obviously chose to accept the advice of a Dr friend in NJ who recommended he go to Miami Florida. The idea that he was not offered the operation in Canada is just political posturing. He could have gone there but chose not too. Like a loyal rich Canadian he jumped the queue and went to the US. As a result he had to pay for the operation himself.

Most of the media skirt over all of this. Much of the mainstream media in Canada are becoming almost as putrid and uncritical as the media in the US.

Danny Williams heart operation not available in Canada?

I wonder if this is true or what. Surely Canada would have the ability to perform such an operation. Did the government pay for Williams to go to Florida. If he truly could not get it here they should I suppose. Or did Williams just choose to go there even though he could have had it here if he had waited. This is from the CBC.

The mitral valve is a special surgery," he said in the interview broadcast Monday evening. "It's not a typical open heart surgery where your arteries are replaced ... so, they recommended that I look at going outside the province ... what was ultimately done to me, the surgery that I eventually got ... was not offered to me in Canada."

Read more:

Mostly sweetness and light as US governors meet with Canadian Premiers

Since the deal on the Buy American policy no doubt the atmosphere in US Canada relations has improved considerably. But there are still some irritants remaining as the article notes. Not too surprising that Brad Wall should impress the Americans, since he is both right win and able to quote famous Americans in keeping with the context! Gary Doer seems to be keeping a relatively low profile as Harper's ambassador to the U.S. Maybe that is the way Harper likes it!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

U.S. governors sing the praises of Canada
Sheldon Alberts, Washington Correspondent, Canwest News Service

WASHINGTON -- Canadian politicians have long complained about the challenges of getting their voices heard in America's halls of power. But for seven Canadian premiers, there's no longer any reason to complain.

Armed with arguments and statistics in favour of free trade, and employing a bit of Canuck charm, Canada's provincial leaders got an enthusiastic welcome this weekend from U.S. …

Canadian Household Debt at Record HIgh

The average household debt is 96 thousand dollars quite a sum to my ears but then our household debt is less than ten thousand! The Conservative government is making mortgages slightly more difficult to get but not so much as to have a drastic effect on demand. Already more mortgages suffer from overdue payments. In general it would seem that there may be somewhat of a slowdown in demand with these debt levels. But in the housing sector this may be to the good and prevent another bubble. As the moment the housing market seems to be a bit too hot in many areas.

Household debt at record high: report
CBC News
Canadian household debt soared to a record average of $96,000 last year, and more families were behind in paying their mortgages, according to a study by the Vanier Institute of the Family.

The number of mortgage payments at least 90 days late was up 50 per cent in 2009, compared with 2008, indicating that while the recession may "technically" be over, it could be a long and c…

Canadian Democracy Promotion equals Promotion of US foreign policy and political warfare.

THere will not be much about this in the mainstream media and what news there will be will be filled with great applause at our mission to promote democracy globally. Of course many US NGO's and in particular the National Endowment for Democracy have acted to destabilise regimes not liked by the US and promote pro-US political groups everywhere. This is fom this site.

Foundation for “Political Warfare”
Takes Cue from U.S. Strategy
Anthony Fenton
Indicating further integration with its closest neighbour and ally's foreign policy priorities, the Canadian government is in the advanced stages of establishing a foundation to promote liberal democracy, akin to the controversial U.S. National Endowment for Democracy.

Last December, the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper quietly tabled in parliament a bipartisan blue panel report titled, “Advisory Panel Report on the Creation of a Canadian Democracy Promotion Agency.” The panel is recommending that the government create the…

Researcher suggests lay panel to help make health-care decisions

This seems to be an interesting idea and certainly a different way of getting public input into the decision making process. As Menon claims often surveys are slanted to try and obtain the results that politicians want although no doubt it does not always work and even a slanted survey gives a general idea of where people stand. This is from the Vancouversun.

U of A researcher proposes lay panel to help make health-care choices
By Keith Gerein, Edmonton

U of A researcher Dev Menon is putting together a "citizens jury" of 16 Albertans to discuss what health services should get priority.
Should the government cover new cardiovascular drugs for seniors, or should the money be used to recruit specialists in child illnesses?

Is it better to fund surgical procedures that provide relief for cancer patients, or buy new technology to protect nurses from infectious diseases?

Health policy leaders are often confronted with these kinds of heartbreaking scenarios, yet their decisions sometimes…

McGuinty prorogues Ontario legislature.

While it may be true that McGuinty's prorogation is relatively brief it is still akin to Harper's move in that it is done for purley political reasons as the article points out. Will Ignatieff come out and criticise his provincial Liberal comrade? We will see. It is about time for the public to realise that the Liberals and Conservatives are not all that different. I hope that the public begins to give more support to third parties. Otherwise we will end up with the same situation as in the US with two dysfunctional major parties and no choice for the public.

McGuinty prorogues legislature
Brief break to be followed by throne speech
By Robert Sibley, The Ottawa CitizenFebruary 10, 2010
Stephen Harper did it, so why not Dalton McGuinty.

The Ontario premier said Tuesday he will "briefly" prorogue the provincial legislature, probably next week, and then begin a new legislative session following the Olympic Games with a throne speech.

However, in announcing his intentions, Mc…

Drones and the Law

This is one of the rather rare articles that actually considers the status of drone attacks under International Law. Most discussion seems to ignore the issue and concentrate upon the question of whether they are useful or counterproductive. This article argues that the main arguments for their legitimacy under international law do not stand up to critical investigation.

Drones and the law[Translate]

Dawn By Rafia Zakaria 27 January 2010

Supporters of the Labour Party rally against the United States and condemned drone attacks on militants in tribal areas along the Afghanistan border, Friday, Dec. 4, 2009 in Lahore. – Photo by AP.
In recent months, international and local attention has begun to focus on the legality of these attacks and the international instruments that control incursions by one government organisation into the territory of another.

In the United States, some of these questions have begun to a…

Ottawa appeals injection site ruling.

One would think that the Conservatives would be in favor of provincial rights. Also, health care insurance plans are under provincial jurisdiction rather than federal. The real reason that the government is appealing is because they want to do everything possible to stop the sites because the Harper government simply opposes them on principle. Even so, it will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court has to say. The last provincial ruling even imposed the costs on the government that is the taxpayer!

Ottawa to appeal injection site ruling
CBC News
The federal government is asking the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal a lower court ruling that sanctioned Vancouver's supervised drug injection site.

The case has raised important questions about the division of powers among federal and provincial governments that need answers, said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on Parliament Hill Tuesday.

"The case we’ll be presenting before the court is to ask for clarification," …

Ottawa cuts funding to First Nations University

This is sad news. There is not that much detail as to why such drastic steps have been taken. One would think that the government and First Nations represenatives could have met to iron out the problem and create a new board with more financial accountability. Perhaps the budget should be part of the University of Regina budget. At Brandon University where I taught the Native Studies department had an extensive range of classes and outreach programs but the budget was part of the general university budget and was vetted in the same way as any other department.

Ottawa cuts funding to First Nations University
CBC News

The federal government has decided to cut funding to First Nations University of Canada.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Chuck Strahl announced Monday that the department will not continue with about $7 million in annual funding to the university, which has its main campus in Regina, starting in the new fiscal year, April 1.

The cut is being made because FNU…

In Ontario child care cut hits poor and results in job losses

This is taking place under a Liberal provincial government. This is just the tip of the iceberg. No doubt federally as well cuts to various safety net programs will be coming thick and fast as moves are made to reduce the deficits on the backs of the most vulnerable and least powerful.

This is from voiceoftoronto.

Ontario child care cut hits poor kids, results in 6,400 job losses
A pending $63.5 million cut to Ontario’s child care programs would eliminate thousands of jobs and leave 7,600 children from low income families without child care.

The Centre for Spatial Economics crunched the numbers on the impact of the provincial government eliminating $63.5 million that supports child care fee subsidies for single and low-income parents. The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) who commissioned the study is tabling it at the province’s budget hearings today and will be available for comment at 10:30 a.m. outside Rm. 151, Queen’s Park.

“The report shows there’s a lot more at stake t…

RCMP complaints to be independently probed.

This is a step in the right direction. Provinces need to ensure that each has its own oversight group. I gather that not all have at this stage but I could be wrong. I wonder how many of these investigations have any public hearings so that the public can see what is going on?

RCMP complaints to get independent probes
CBC News
RCMP Commissioner William Elliott pledges independent investigation of the force's members whenever possible. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)
The RCMP will bring in independent agencies to investigate, whenever possible, if a member of its own force has been accused of serious offences, the RCMP commissioner said.

"I believe that the RCMP has in the past conducted impartial and thorough investigations of our members. This has been validated time and time again by the commission for public complaints against the RCMP, " William Elliott said on Thursday as he announced the new policy.

"However, I’m convinced that we collectively need to raise the bar i…

Rex Murphy on Danny William's Heart Surgery in the US

There are some facts after all that it might have helped Murphy make a less clueless commentary.

1) Williams chose to have his surgery in the US rather than Canada.
2) There is no evidence that he could not have had the surgery in Canada outside of Newfoundland and Labrador.
3) The issue is political after all as Murphy himself shows in his article. It has been commented on by US talk shows such as Ó'"Reilly. Williams is premier of NL and as such where he gets his health care is an issue..
4) His choice reflects badly on the Canadian Health Care System.
5) In effect he probably did jump a queue. He might have had to wait in Canada if he had chosen to have the operation here. Hence, he may very well have gone to the US to avoid the wait.
6) I assume Williams is paying himself for the operation although this is not entirely clear. So only those with funds are able to avoid queues and able to go to the US. Ordinary Canadians would not have this privilege or freedom as it is called!

Boss! I want to prorogue too!

I thought of this as well and wondered is someone would post something along this line! Obviously parliament is not an essential service since we can function quite well without it being in session and it can even prorogue when it is necessary to terminate bothersome committees and pack the senate with Conservatives. This is from midnorthmonitor.

But boss, I want to prorogue too! But boss, I want to prorogue too!
Posted By Rosalind Raby

Just over a week ago, Canadians gathered in several communities, including Sudbury, outside government buildings to protest the prorogation or suspension of the Canadian Parliament until March 3rd,.

On Dec 30th, Prime Minister Harper used the procedural maneuver to close the Senate and House of Commons until after the Vancouver Olympics in the midst of an allegation of torture of innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

In addition to this, 37 bills that were being debated in Parliament have now been suspended. Discussion on bills will need to start from scratch…

McParland: Ignatieff heads down same path as Dion.

A sense a strong anti-Liberal bias in this article but nevertheless McParland has a point. So far Ignatieff has not had much to say about what his policies will be. At least his statements about child care are a beginning. Perhaps McParland reads too much into what Ignatieff says. Ignatieff may not make the issue into his main focus as Dion did with the Green Shift. What Ignatieff fails to do is to put any price tag on his policies and in a time of increasing deficits this will surely be important to voters. This is from the National Post.

Kelly McParland: Ignatieff heads down same path as Dion

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff pledged that he would spend the days before Parliament resumes announcing Liberal policies and making clear where the party stands on the issues of the day.

It's never too late to tell voters what you believe in, even if Mr. Ignatieff has waited a curiously long time since taking over the leadership a year ago. Even with his activities this week he's still …

NDP looking to broaden base

Political parties it seems are not about policies but policies are bait so that more voters can be caught. The CCF, the precursor of the NDP, was about policies and educating the public about those policies. Sometimes votes went down as people rejected the policies but many party leaders still had faith that in the longer term people would vote for them. The CCF and now the NDP have gone further and further to the right but federally at least they do little if any better than in the times when J.S. Woodsworth ran on a true democratic socialist program. Now the NDP seems to be following the pattern of the UK labour party and the so-called third way in order to get more votes. Of course it makes sense to compromise when it can bring a party to power but nowadays it is not about compromise but about adopting whatever policies are best to gain power.

The Canadian Press NDP sees no election until next year, targets ethnic communities, seniors

OTTAWA - The federal New D…