Friday, August 27, 2010

Is Harper Using Leona Aglukkaq to Announce the End of Medicare?

Stephen Harper's MO, when it comes to announcing bad decisions, is to temporarily remove the muzzles from his ministers, letting them make the announcements, thereby allowing them to take the fall.

Only after the minister is completely backed into a corner, will he make a brief appearance and in six words or less, announce his position, usually quoting the intellectual Bart Simpson "I didn't do it".

So when his health minister Leona Aglukkaq refused to attend a key doctors’ conference, because she was busy having her picture taken with the "Big H", he allowed Diane Finley, wife of corporate lobbyist Doug Finley, to send a clear message. Stephen Harper has successfully scrapped the Canada Health Act, a career long goal, by simply never mentioning it again.

Andre Picard asks:
Does Canada still have a federal health minister? And, more important, does it have a government with the slightest interest in maintaining the national health-insurance program called medicare?

For all practical purposes, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “No.” Leona Aglukkaq, who holds the title of Minister of Health, was glaringly absent this week from the Canadian Medical Association gathering in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Stephen Harper knows that if he makes the announcement that the policy he wrote for his party in 1987, does not include free health care and never will, he would be out on his butt quicker than you could say "Stephen Who"?

So instead he just avoids the topic and demands that his entire caucus avoids the topic.
Ms. Aglukkaq is an intelligent, thoughtful politician; she has a superb grasp of the health file, which she demonstrated as the health minister for Nunavut. But she is an abysmal federal health minister for the simple reason that she is a victim of political glossectomy performed by the hatchet men in the Prime Minister’s office.

... But the PMO’s decision to keep the minister away from the CMA general council is powerfully symbolic. It should send a shiver down the spine of everyone who cares about the future of health care.
Picard recalls Harper's famous line when he was with the National Citizens Coalition, the organization formed with the intent of dismantling our health care system: “It’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act.”

It would appear that they have done just that. And as usual, they are using religion to sell it to their base, while working to the benefit of private health providers who have been trying for decades to get their hands on our health care.

This was a key plank in this party's platform as far back as Ernest Manning, who detested Tommy Douglas and his "schemes", stating that "Giving to the individual societal benefits such as free medical care ... breeds idleness... causing a break down in his relationship with God ... where the state imposed a monopoly on a service ... the sinful philosophy of state collectivism scored a victory." (1)

And Preston followed in his father's footsteps:
It is worth remembering that Ernest Manning fought a fierce battle against the introduction of all national social programs, including medicare. In 1965, with Ottawa preparing to act on medicare, he declared: "To those who want to see a free society preserved in Canada, the proposed ... program is a direct challenge to individual liberty and responsibility." As an alternative to a state-run plan, he proposed that governments subsidize private insurance policies. Individuals, he noted, would be responsible for buying those policies — just as they are in the United States today.

The Reform Party's 1991 privatization policy [written by Preston's lieutenant Stephen Harper] shows equally clear marks of Preston Manning's deep devotion to trimming government and ending centralization. It states that all crown corporations should be placed where they can work best, and "We believe that there is overwhelming evidence that this would be the private sector in the vast majority of cases." The policy Blue Book calls for total privatization of Petro Canada [already done by Brian Mulroney] and Canada Post [being done by Stephen Harper], adding that "there should be no restrictions on private competition in the delivery of mail."

Preston Manning's political goals are very clear. He wants a society of widely dispersed power centres with most institutions and functions in private hands, safe from any collectivist conspiracy. He wants each individual to be free to find the Mannings' Christian God. Ideally, he would like each person to provide for the major part of his or her basic needs, including key social services and medicare. (2)
When Obama was trying to get his health care bill passed, a group founded by one of Harper's MPs, John Weston, pulled a dirty stunt to discredit our health care system. And when Harper was asked in the U.S. about our system, he said he knew very little about it. Right. As president of the NCC, he would have known that act from cover to cover.

Back in the day when Canada was a democracy (was it really 4 1/2 years ago? How time flies), the prime minister would have explained why he is ignoring this issue that is so important to all Canadians. And back when Canada was a democracy and had a media, they would have demanded answers. Instead the pm is in the North, engaged in another high priced photo-op.

Fascism is so much better than democracy, don't you think?


1. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, Pg. 9

2. Storming Babylon: Preston Manning and the Rise of the Reform Party, By Sydney Sharpe & Don Braid, Key Porter, 1992, ISBN: 1550134124, Pg. 79


  1. Emily -- I am so glad, and so grateful, that you are writing about these topics. I know someone has to do it and I know I can't. I get too upset and my responses to Harperism are all emotional, not rational. Would that I could change my style from its present peculiar combination of Dave Barry and Erma Bombeck with a bit of Phyllis Diller thrown in, but I am destined to remain a humorous essayist, taking none of the responsibility for saving the world I wanted to save in the 60s and 70s. Therefore I must thank you sincerely for bringing to light the things that make me cry and stamp my feet, the things that render me speechless. I know I am not the only Canadian stunned by what is happening to our country, and I think of the question asked in your blog recently: "How did the average Germans feel when the Nazi party first began taking over their country?" I feel, strongly, the need to do something about it happening in Canada, but I'm tongue-tied, and feel my hands are tied, too, either by fear or by tears.

  2. Emily,your ability to connect the dots amazes me.Thank-you so much for your postings.