Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Niagara Falls Then and Now: Who owns Niagara's Horseshoe Falls?

A recent Disney-produced tourism video for the U.S, gov't., which depicted a fleeting glimpse of Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls, sent both Canadians and Americans into fits of nationalistic frenzy. (click on map to enlarge)

The St. Catharines Standard (Oct. 29, 2007) ran an article headlined “Has U.S. annexed falls?”, which was credited to Matthew Lee of Associated Press. In the Standard’s version of this story, this paragraph appeared:
 In showing the natural wonder, Disney's filmmakers, however, chose the Horseshoe Falls, the only one of Niagara's three waterfalls to lie on the Canadian side of the border separating western New York state from southern Ontario.”

However, on the Associated Press website the same day, Matthew Lee’s original story was headlined “Video puts Canadian Part of Falls in US”, and the paragraph (which was later cited by the Standard) actually read:
In showing the natural wonder, Disney's filmmakers, however, chose the Horseshoe Falls, the only one of Niagara's three waterfalls to lie almost entirely on the Canadian side of the border separating western New York state from southern Ontario province.”

Note the difference: the words “almost entirely” which were in Lee’s original AP article, were not included in the St. Catharines Standard’s article!!

Why is there a discrepancy between what is supposedly the same story by the same author?

I guess the St.Catharines Standard's editor omitted/deleted the phrase “almost entirely” out of the original story, to make it more sensational for Canadian nationalists to get indignant about. Is the Horseshoe Falls entirely, or almost entirely in Canada?

Lee also writes this curious passage: “The political boundary is not marked with a line through the Niagara River that divides the two countries and connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.”

What?! “Not marked”?! But, the “political boundary” IS marked with a line on maps, and has been since the Paris Treaty in 1783. What has changed? I spoke on Oct.30, 2007 to Kim Craitor, the Liberal MPP whose riding includes Niagara Falls, about this controversy, asking him where the border actually is along the Horseshoe Falls. He had no clue, telling me brusquely he hasn’t read the papers: “I’m just saying, whatever it was, it is.” Well, thanks for that typically Liberal useless non-answer.

Maps clearly show that the Canada-U.S. boundary runs approximately midcourse along the Niagara River - Grand Island is on the U.S. side, Navy Island is on the Canadian side, Goat Island is on the U.S. side. The boundary line along the upper Niagara River is clearly shown south-west of Goat Island. At the Horseshoe Falls it turns towards the north off Terrapin Point actually following the crest of the Falls in a straight line, then turns again to the north-east (now in the lower Niagara River), thereby encompassing a small part of the eastern edge of the Horseshoe Falls abutting Goat Island. Interestingly, the border, running straight, is shown paralleling the eastern edge of the Falls - it is at this unique point where the jagged crest of the Falls sometimes juts onto one side of the line, and at other points, recedes behind it. (Shown are an air view, and a map view, of Niagara Falls, showing the Horseshoe Falls and Goat Island, from Canada’s Energy, Mines and Resources. See also here)

Sources such as Wikipedia dubiously claim the Horseshoe Falls are “located entirely on the Canadian side of the border”. Others, such as Google Maps, show the Falls to be partially on the U.S. side. A U.S. geological survey put the Horseshoe Falls as one-third in U.S. territory. Back on Jun 23, 2006 Amy Sharaf wrote in the Leader-Post: “according to a map by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Horseshoe Falls are entirely in Canada, except for a tiny sliver -- which would be about one per cent -- in the upper right-hand corner.”

Maps that I viewed at the Niagara Parks Commission's Oak Hall offices show that a small portion of the Horseshoe Falls which abutts Goat Island is on the U.S. side, yet other maps showed the border actually running through the tip of Terrapin Point, putting a slice of the point on the Canadian side! However, even on this map, due to the angle of the supposed border line, a small portion of the Horseshoe Falls is nevertheless still shown in U.S. territory.

The St. Catharines Standard (Oct.30, 2007) followed up with a quote from local historian Sherman Zavitz: “Geography is geography, and the Horseshoe Falls, with the exception of a couple of feet on the Goat Island side, is certainly in Canada”. Technically, though, a “couple of feet” does not mean all. In other words, most, but not all, of the Horseshoe Falls fall within Canada - they are shared. If so, then Zavitz has proven Wikipedia to be inaccurate. (Perhaps, the Standard’s headline should more appropriately ask: “Has Canada annexed Falls?”)

Not to be outdone in knee-jerk chest-pumping bravado, the Niagara Falls (Ontario) Review (Oct.30, 2007) printed a screaming front page, shouting out in oversized bold letters: “Dear Uncle Sam, These are OUR FALLS” (over a picture of the Horseshoe Falls, which also showed the edge of Goat Island); “YOURS look like this” (over a picture of the American and Bridal Veil Falls). Please - cry me a river. The Hamilton Spectator’s (Oct. 29, 2007) headline also yelled: “Oh no! U.S. grabs our Falls”. No, they didn’t. Get a grip. Disproportionate over-reaction, OR WHAT?!

Who could show that they were more put out, distressed, shocked and upset over the Horseshoes' several-second-cameo in this video?
- Americans: “This is not the United States,” thundered Niagara Falls (N.Y.) historian Paul Gromosiak (St. Catharines Standard Oct.29, 2007), “This is 100 percent Canada, shot from the Canadian side. This is an insult.”
- Or, Canadians: like Carolyn Bones, president of the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce, who also roared: “I believe this is an insult to Canada”. (Niagara Falls Review, Oct.30, 2007)
Oh, please! They should be glad for ANY publicity that would bring ANY tourists to Niagara, whether to their side or ours. By the way, here’s what the Buffalo News (Oct.30, 2007) reported, which the St. Catharines Standard didn’t: “Of some solace to Gromosiak: About 20 percent of the Horseshoe Falls, he estimated, lies in on the U.S. side of the border.”
The Toronto Star (Oct.30, 2007) quoted U.S. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack: "This is a shared natural wonder between the United States and Canada, and we're very proud to have part of it in our territory, and I know the Canadian government is very proud to have part of it in its territory."
The Horseshoe Falls is a shared draw. Ontario’s Liberal Tourism Minister Jim Bradley, who gave up trying to convince Americans to visit, had Disney help do his job; at least, it cost us nothing! Tourism operators should take this video in stride, and use the opportunity to show a welcoming, inviting face to tourists, not a petty, parochial one. And as for the view, anyone who has been to the edge of Goat Island abutting the Horseshoe Falls, well knows that there is a spectacular view from there also.

Truly, much ado over nothin’.

Monday, October 29, 2007

G.B.Shaw & Walter Duranty: dupes denied genocidal famine - Holodomor - in Soviet Ukraine

On dupes, Nazis & Stalinists:

Here’s a letter from Orysia Tracz (National Post, May.26, 2003):

“Re: Nazi Victims, letter, May 23.

I am a child of slave labourers from Ukraine who worked in Germany during the Second World War. I know many Ukrainians with tattooed numbers on their arms. I know the families of those who did not survive the concentration camps. All the rest of her life, my mother was haunted by the Gestapo gallows set up in every village and town square, with the bodies left hanging as a reminder not to resist. For a nation subjugated and ruled by Poland and Russia, Ukrainians did not even have a Quisling government, as did other states in Europe. Ukraine was an economic colony of the Reich, with even the black soil being transported west, along with the cattle cars of people.
Ron Podolny should do more research. Nazi documents say more than enough about the Nazi attitude and actions toward the Untermenschen, the sub-humans of Ukraine.”


Here is Erik White’s article "We never forget" about the Ukrainian famine-genocide (St. Catharines Standard, (Aug.2, 2003):

“Bread is sacred in Ukraine. Revered even. If a slice falls to the floor, it is quickly picked up and instinctively kissed before being put back on the plate.
They still made bread in the fall of 1932. They just changed the recipe a little.
Many fashioned wild nettles into a type of thin, papery bread. Others ground flour from milky, unripened wheat. Some formed loaves from mashed wild mushrooms, held together with a handful of bran.
Outside kitchen windows, it held onto the title of the Breadbasket of Europe. The fields were still golden, the harvest still bountiful, the farmers sweating for grain that would never reach their table.
Ukrainians call it "holodeuka." History books now remember it as the Ukrainian famine-genocide of 1932-33: a Soviet-manufactured famine aimed to squash resistance in defiant eastern Ukraine, while boosting grain exports at the same time.
For decades, the story of the millions who starved to death beside fertile fields has been buried in unmarked mass graves, cloaked by government secrecy and repressed by those who witnessed the horror as children.
Now, 70 years later and half a world away, the kids are speaking up, eager to make sure the story doesn't die with them and permanently pass into myth and rumour.
Lidia Prokomenko's grandmother didn't have any beef to give the tax collectors. They took her last three chickens instead.
Days later, Prokomenko's state-appointed teacher was singing her usual communist ideology, with particular praise for the collectivization of farming, which had only recently been implemented in the area.
She went on about how by giving up ownership of your land and collecting the harvest as a community, you made sure that everyone in the country had something to eat and that everyone prospered together.
Eight-year-old Lidia asked about the chickens and what her family got out of her grandmother being hungry. The teacher pointed to the scarf the little girl was wearing in the unheated schoolhouse.
" 'That's your clothes and the people who work in the factory making those, they have to eat,' " she told Prokomenko, now 79, who lets out a sound somewhere between chuckling and weeping. "That's funny to say that, but I have to cry."
Ukraine was a problem for Soviet Premier Josef Stalin. The richest farming region in the U.S.S.R. was also where most peasants fervently refused to give up their land to collectivization.
At the same time, Stalin was also hoping to increase grain exports in order to purchase heavy machinery from the west. It seems he came up with the same solution for two problems.
Grain quotas for Ukraine were raised 44 per cent in 1932, with no locals to receive grain until the quota was filled. Villagers were also to hand over certain amounts of other food stuffs as well. Survivors say the state collectors left them with practically nothing.
Prokomenko's mother would take items from around the house and walk into town to trade them for food. For a thick bedspread, she would get two cups of cornmeal to feed her family of six.
"I was always babysitting my brother; my mother was off to market to exchange things for food," she said.
"Every day she would go."
So people hid food. Government agents would search homes for stashes of grain, use long rods to probe the yard for buried supplies and take whatever they found.
Those who snitched on their neighbours were rewarded with bread. Walter, a survivor who doesn't want his full name published, said a member of the communist party who lived across the street in his village would often drop in if he smelled something cooking.
Walter remembers one such inspection when he was cooking nettles in a dry pan. "I said, 'Here, you want to try?' and he didn't want to try," the 79-year-old St. Catharines man laughed.
So they ate what they could find.
Those caught gleaning the fields for leftover wheat were either shot or imprisoned. Still, Walter would sneak into the fields and clip off milky buds with scissors.
The nine-year-old would also visit a nearby sugar beet plantation and brave a "watchman on a horse with a good whip" to snatch the pans of molasses left as insect traps. The sweetened nettle bread was a "delicacy."
Anna Onyskiw's grandmother would wake her up early each morning to go pick grass, marsh reeds and budding leaves to make into soup. Other days the eight-year-old would scour the woods for acorns and wild berries.
"You try everything to fill up your stomach," she said. "In our village, you find no dog, no cat, no bird. What is moving is gone."
Her sister didn't speak for months from the hunger. At night, by a flame too small for the snitches-- as religion was forbidden by the communists-- to see, they'd listen to their grandfather read from the Bible.
Her prayers were answered by an unusually large wild mushroom harvest.
"In the fall, we were so happy because of the mushrooms. We'd boil them, we fried them, we put them in the oven to dry them," Onyskiw said, adding that she hasn't eaten mushrooms since.
"We were so happy to have this given to us, I'd just say, 'Oh thank you God, thank you God. You didn't forget about us.' "
But there still was never enough to eat.
As autumn turned to winter, the bodies started piling up. Burying the neighbours became a regular chore. Stomachs swelled round and grotesque, a disfigurement that stayed with some survivors for life.
Someone from the village would come around with a cart, collecting the corpses. Walter remembers his mother helping out once so she could borrow the cart the next day.
The children saw the bodies tumble from hay forks into communal graves, layered with lime to keep in the pungent smell. Sometimes those that were nearly dead would get tossed in as well.
Onyskiw's grandfather was very sick and bloated, but when the "death collectors" came to the door, she and her sister would sit on top of him, playing with dolls and poking him to keep quiet until the cart moved on.
She soon also fell ill, lying long hours in bed, her hunger giving birth to hallucinations.
"I could smell bread, and I say, 'Momma, are you eating bread? Look! You still have some of it in your hair.' And I'd eat just the little bits," she said, pretending to nibble on crumbs. " 'Momma, why you crying? You still have lots, you still have lots for you, too.' "
Her misery grew to the point that one wintery night, she quietly walked downstairs and out the door into the cold.
"I go outside and I start hiding myself in the snow, because I don't want to live no more. I want to die," she said. Her grandfather knew better and soon carried her inside.
The death count mounted in spring 1933 -- some estimates have 25,000 dying daily -- and whispers of cannibalism circulated around the countryside, stories of desperate parents and meals cut from corpses.
Many families picked up and moved to other parts of the country. But state agents were equipped with a list of family names from the starving areas and turned away hundreds of hungry migrants.
Natalie Awarmenko was just three at the time, but her parents have told her how they fled their ancestral home for the Dombas region, where the need for coal miners was so great the list was ignored.
After their home was demolished and land seized, Onyskiw's father also moved the family to go work in the mines for 200 grams of bread a day.
Walter and his mother toughed it out in their village, surviving on the jars of beets and peas she had stashed in the rafters. His father worked in a factory in a nearby city and would occasionally come home with money and food, and on one joyous day two loaves of bread.
"What a happiness! To have bread!" he remembered. "For two weeks I kept (a large piece) under my pillow, until it had mildew. My mother told me it was better (to keep it) longer. I'd eat it all at once if I can."
Prokomenko's father took the family to present-day Belarus, where he worked in a lumber camp, and didn't return until 1935, when the worst of this "hungry time" passed.
In 1938, the government sent out word that all those who had fled or had their farms seized were welcome to return. Wanting his children to reconnect with their heritage, Awarmenko's father took the family back.
His name was taken down as they re-entered the village.
That first night, she said through a translator, they heard screaming as a black van crept through the dark streets, taking the men from each newly returned family. The Ukrainians called this van the "chornee voron" or "black crow."
Awarmenko's father managed to escape that night and made his way back to Dombas, where the rest of the family joined him six months later.
Gradually, people stopped dying. But Prokomenko doesn't remember her stomach being really full until she immigrated to Canada in 1951. "There was not really lots, but enough for living," she said.
For decades, speaking of the famine was prohibited, dismissed as "counter-revolutionist propaganda." The closest the Soviets came to acknowledging the genocide was to admit they had experienced a "production difficulty" during those years.
Even as recent as 1983, when future prime minister Brian Mulroney mentioned the famine in a speech to an international Ukrainian organization, the Soviet Union condemned it as a "100 per cent lie."
Silence became ingrained in the survivors, even those who came to Canada in the 1940s and 1950s, only airing these dark memories in the company of family and friends.
Instead of uniting through adversity, the famine's legacy divided the Ukrainian Canadian community, splitting survivors from those hailing from Polish-controlled western Ukraine and the younger generation, unable to relate to this "national" tragedy.
"I remember and remind everyone, my grandchildren, my children, but their understanding is different," Walter said. "You have to be there."
But now the stories are being told. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has been actively marking the 70th anniversary, having the famine officially recognized by the Senate last month.
They are also fighting to have the 1932 Pulitzer Prize awarded to New York Times reporter Walter Duranty revoked, as his series on the Soviet Union failed to report the full extent of the famine.
The St. Catharines chapter has located 40 survivors living in the area and is now hoping to book them for speaking engagements and seminars to educate Ukrainians and the broader community.
Many of them spoke last month at the blessing of a memorial cross erected at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. George on Facer Street in St. Catharines. (A similar ceremony will be held Sunday at St. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Church.)
Walter wore a plain white sign around his neck reading 548 + 12, signifying the 548 who died and the 12 who disappeared from his village during the genocide. In every snapshot from that day, at the ceremony or the luncheon afterward, Walter is holding the sign directly at the camera.
"I want to have picture so I can send it to (Ukraine) and show them we never forget," he said. "I never forget them. I never forget that holocaust."


Here’s my letter, “Shaw became a dupe of Stalin”, (St. Catharines Standard, Aug.8, 2003):

“Regarding “We never forget”, the story of the 1932-33 Soviet-orchestrated famine-genocide, (The Standard, Aug. 2):

The Soviet propaganda effort to deny this famine even utilized sympathizers like George Bernard Shaw as tools praising Stalin.
The socialist playwright, (ironically revered here in Niagara mostly as a shill for tourist dollars) toured the Soviet Union and declared there were no forced starvations in Soviet Ukraine.
It is notable that Shaw, the iconic high moralist claiming to represent the common man, could not or would not reconcile his supposed great utopian ideals to the horrific reality of the communist lie.
I thank The Standard and writer Erik White for documenting this dormant piece of oral Ukrainian history. R. Bobak”


This is from Arnold Beichman, research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., (National Post, Aug.13, 2003):

“Re: Giving A Great Gadfly His Due, Ian Hunter, Aug. 11.

It is an astonishing omission from Prof. Hunter's column that in his journalism, Malcolm Muggeridge was one of the most effective opponents of the Soviet Union at a time when bien-pensants in the West, particularly in England, were full of admiration for Joseph Stalin's genocidal policies.
While contemporary Moscow correspondents like Walter Duranty were filing lies in the guise of news to The New York Times, Muggeridge was telling the truth to readers of the Manchester Guardian. Let me give you a taste of Muggeridge at his polemical best, this passage from his autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time: "Wise old Shaw, high-minded old [Henri] Barbusse, the venerable [Sidney and Beatrice] Webbs, [Andre] Gide, the pure in heart and Picasso the impure, down to poor little teachers, crazed clergymen and millionaires, drivelling dons and very special correspondents like Duranty, all resolved, come what might, to believe anything, however preposterous, to overlook anything, however villainous, to approve anything, however obscurantist and brutally authoritarian, in order to be able to preserve intact the confident expectation that one of the most thorough-going, ruthless and bloody tyrannies ever to exist on Earth could be relied on to champion human freedom, the brotherhood of man, and all the other good liberal causes to which they had dedicated their lives."
Some gadfly!”


Here’s an article by Amity Shlaes, “Why Soviet history is back in vogue” (Financial Times, Aug. 25, 2003):

“The US is devoting 2003 to the frustrating task of identifying and hunting down its new enemies. But it is also, as it happens, busy pursuing an old enemy. Or, rather, the ghost of an old enemy: the Soviet Union. A full decade after the cold war's end, Americans are taking another look at Soviet communism. They are trying to determine how so many of America's most influential public figures, from the 1920s onwards, failed to appreciate the threat that the Soviet regime represented both to outsiders and to its own citizens.
The newsiest aspect of the story has been Columbia University's decision to consider revoking the Pulitzer Prize it granted three-quarters of a century ago to Walter Duranty of The New York Times. Mr Duranty, a Harrow-educated Englishman, won the prize for 1932 articles that argued Stalin was "doing the best for the Soviet masses". The same articles neglected both the facts of the deportation of hundreds of thousands and the beginnings of the Ukrainian famine, in which millions perished. The Great Depression was on and many New York Times editors saw the Soviet Union as an intriguing economic model. The Pulitzer committee duly canonised Duranty, concluding his work was "marked by scholarship, profundity, impartiality"*. Their award was a gift to Duranty - but an even greater one to Stalin.
Scholars have long remarked on the folly of the Duranty award - indeed, this is the second time a Pulitzer committee has revisited the matter. This year's review probably has something to do with another timely revision: that of the view that The New York Times is unassailable. Walter Duranty, after all, was an early version of Jayson Blair, the Times's 2003 plagiarist; where Mr Blair is farce, Duranty was tragedy. Still, the Pulitzer review also reflects a conviction that misconceived myths about the Soviet Union must be toppled like old communist statues.
A crucial part of this re-evaluation is a general look at Soviet abuses. Perhaps the most important work is the exhaustive Gulag by Anne Applebaum, the US journalist.** Ms Applebaum argues that the camp, the Soviet institution of terror, was in its way as bad as anything perpetrated by the Nazis. "In Auschwitz you could die in a gas chamber, at Kolyma you could freeze to death in the snow," she writes.
Less scholarly, but just as important, is a bestseller by Mona Charen.*** Ms Charen, a columnist, reviews the ranks of left-leaners who, over eight decades, whitewashed communist misdeeds. Her list starts with George Bernard Shaw, who praised the Soviet Union as a place that made "the world safe for honest men", and goes all the way to TV interviewer Barbara Walters, who in the 1990s decried the chaos following communism's break-up and reminisced: "In the old Soviet Union, you never saw faces like this - the poor, the homeless . . . is this what democracy does?"
There are a number of reasons for the new interest in the old Soviet Union. The first is the availability of information. Robert Conquest, pre-eminent cold war scholar of Stalin's abuses, had to back up data with surmise. Ms Applebaum and other post-Soviet scholars have the luxury of extensive fieldwork.
A second reason is the disturbing absence of Russian scholarship. President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB operative in East Germany, has insisted that it is better to ignore history, calling it a "mistake to get bogged down in old problems from the past". Since Russians are not doing the work, westerners are doing it for them.
But the most important factor is a growing realisation that the US and Britain made errors about the Soviet Union, or its satellites and friends, because they thought about the cold war in terms of themselves and their government, rather than recognising the Kremlin as what Hannah Arendt, the political philosopher, identified early on as an "objective enemy". Rather than take Stalin for what he was, US citizens in the 1930s tended to view his collectivisation as a conceivable alternative to bread lines at home. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, such self-referential thinking emerged again. Susan Sontag, the intellectual, saw Vietnam not as a cold war conflict but as the "key to a systematic criticism of America".
Today Americans fear that such superficially plausible yet flawed reasoning may again lead to foreign policy misjudgments of comparable magnitude. A year ago, it was possible to argue that Afghanistan and perhaps the mooted campaign against Iraq were finite "little wars".
Now people are wondering whether Afghanistan was merely the first skirmish in a protracted conflict, as the Berlin division was in the cold war. Americans are wondering whether the west is facing a conflict with radical Islam and certain Middle Eastern regimes that is every bit as defined and profound as the struggle with the Soviet Union was in its day. They wonder, too, which side of such a conflict Europe might be on. They know they have to think seriously about friends and enemies.
Retrospective Sovietology may seem an odd way to think about al-Qaeda. But it represents an honest acknowledgment of how hard it is to get things right.
* S.J. Taylor, Stalin's Apologist, Oxford, 1990
** Gulag: A History, Doubleday, 2003
*** Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First, Regnery, 2003”


Here’s Mark MacKinnon’s article, “Ukraine's Holocaust slowly acknowledged”, (Globe and Mail, Sept.22, 2003):

“Olga Skoba's memories of the great famine in her village are dominated by a single image.
When she was a girl, about 12 years old, she watched men pile the emaciated corpses of those who had died onto a wooden cart each day to take them to the cemetery. The cart was so full, she remembers, that the bodies could not fit on it properly. One morning, the head of one of her neighbours dragged behind the cart, bouncing off stones as a final indignity on the way to the grave.
Ms. Skoba, like anyone old enough to remember the famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine, which left an estimated seven million to 10 million people dead, has many terrible memories. By her estimate, half of this tiny farming community was wiped out. She says she survived only because her mother hid bread under her head scarf to keep the Soviet secret police from seizing it.
Seventy years later, she still doesn't know why it happened.
"There were rumours that Comrade Stalin took the grain and dumped it into the sea," the 82-year-old said, furrowing her wizened brow. "But other people say it was just a bad harvest that year."
For decades after Soviet dictator Josef Stalin committed one of his greatest crimes, deliberately inflicting mass starvation on the Ukrainian peasantry, he and his regime got away with the big lie.
Denying the famine ever happened was for decades the unbending Soviet line. In many ways, the game has only just ended.
Thousands of documents declassified by the Ukrainian government this year support what many historians have been saying for years: that the starvation was orchestrated by Stalin in order to crush a peasantry that had vehemently opposed his plans to collectivize all agricultural production.
Memorial, a Kiev-based human-rights group that has put together an exhibition on the famine, says the harvest in 1933 was actually quite a good one, but that the grain was forcibly taken and sold to Depression-stricken United States and Germany in exchange for equipment that helped modernize Soviet industry. Those who didn't hand over all their crops voluntarily had their food stocks seized. Resisters were executed.
This spring, Ukraine's parliament, the Rada, belatedly passed a motion declaring the famine to have been an intentional crime against the Ukrainian people. "The famine of 1932-33, which was an inhuman way to eliminate millions of Ukrainians, was a genocide perpetrated by the regime of the time," the resolution reads. "This tragedy has been kept silent for decades."
The government took its case to the United Nations, and asked the world body to formally recognize the genocide of 1932 and 1933. No one would second the motion -- there were rumours of Russian opposition -- so now a second motion is being drafted using the somewhat milder term "crime against humanity."
While the diplomatic game plays out in New York, many Ukrainians are wondering why it took the government so long to open this chapter in its history, and why there is still no museum to the genocide anywhere in Ukraine. Twelve years after Ukraine gained independence, a small monument inscribed "1932-1933" in downtown Kiev is the only public acknowledgment in the country of what took place.
"For 70 years, people couldn't talk about this, and today we still don't," said Artur Yeremenko, a senior researcher with Memorial, which terms the famine "Ukraine's Holocaust."
"The U.S. Congress has put together a 33-volume report on what happened. The Ukrainian government hasn't written one volume."
Ostap Skrypnyk, executive director of the Winnipeg-based Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said the delay is a symptom of a wider lack of historical understanding among many Ukrainians. Politicians, including President Leonid Kuchma, have been loath to go too far in condemning the Soviet era, since much of the electorate still looks on that time with a certain fondness.
Taking the step of calling the famine a genocide necessarily raises the question of who should take the blame for what happened. Stalin and most of his cronies are dead, and the institutions that outlive them are running for cover.
The Ukrainian Communist Party, which continues to deny Stalin and his regime played any role in the famine, boycotted the Rada debate on declaring it genocide, insisting the famine was caused exclusively by drought. Russia, which assumed many of the debts and assets of the Soviet Union when it collapsed, quickly made clear that it didn't see any reason it should be held responsible, despite calls from groups such as Memorial.
It's the cruelty that survivors say they can never forget. Ivan Leschenko says his tiny village of Kirilo-Anovka, in eastern Ukraine, was hit so hard that it is deserted even now, 70 years later. Everyone who lived there either died or went to the nearby city of Poltava to beg for food.
A journalist during the Soviet time, Mr. Leschenko, 80, knew better than most that the forced famine was a topic never to be discussed, let alone written about. He's dismayed at how long it has taken an independent Ukraine to begin dealing with its history.
"The old powers from the Soviet time control Ukraine still. They supported the ideology that committed this famine. They will be judged some day." "


Lubomyr Luciuk wrote in “Why honour a shill for Stalin?”, (National Post, Oct.24, 2003):

“Re: Revoke Duranty's Pulitzer, editorial, Oct. 23.

Canadians should take pride in learning that the international campaign to have Walter Duranty's Pulitzer Prize revoked or returned originated in this country, with the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Our goal was never to erase Duranty's record or the man himself from history. Quite to the contrary, we want Duranty known for all time for what he truly was: a shill for Stalin, before, during and after the genocidal Great Famine of 1932- 1933 in Soviet Ukraine.
Of course, we have no way of predicting whether the Pulitzer committee will do the right thing and revoke or return his prize. We hope so, otherwise future Pulitzer recipients will have to accept this distinction knowing their company is polluted by the spectre of a man who buried the truth about the mass murder of millions of people.
Lubomyr Luciuk, Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Toronto.”


Robert Fulford wrote in “Duranty was Stalin's spin doctor” (National Post, Nov.25, 2003):

“Walter Duranty, famous 70 years ago as a distinguished reporter for The New York Times, has slowly turned into a symbol of the wilfully deceptive reporting on the Soviet Union that misled the West about the nature of Stalinism for many years. This week Duranty appeared in the news again when the Pulitzer Prize board announced its decision not to strip him posthumously of the award he won in 1932 for persistently dishonest reporting from Moscow.
Duranty served as Moscow correspondent from 1921 to 1934, wrote several books on Soviet politics and won an admiring public in America.
Meanwhile, he and the Soviets developed a mutually beneficial arrangement.
They let him live like a commissar in a big apartment stocked with caviar and vodka. He had assistants, a chauffeur, and a cook- mistress who became the mother of his son. In return he followed the Soviet line. Sometimes he criticized the Bolsheviks, but on crucial issues he echoed their opinions and praised their plans.
Duranty depicted Stalinist dictatorship as a version of what Russians considered proper government: "Absolute authority, unmellowed by the democracy or liberalism of the West." He accepted outright the new Soviet spin of the early 1930s: No longer interested in exporting revolution, they desired nothing but co- operation and trade with the West.
By selling this approach to Times readers, Duranty helped win public approval for the American decision to recognize Stalin's government. When recognition was granted in 1934, a banquet was held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York to celebrate. Duranty, introduced as "one of the great foreign correspondents of modern times," was given a standing ovation.
Elsewhere, his mendacity was noticed. Malcolm Muggeridge, reporting from Moscow for the Manchester Guardian, considered him the worst liar he ever encountered in journalism. But Duranty's most passionate critics have been Ukrainians, for excellent reasons. When Ukrainian farmers resisted collectivization, Soviet soldiers seized their crops at gunpoint, leaving the people to starve while the government sold the grain abroad for hard-currency credits. As a result, at least five million and possibly even 10 million Ukrainians died.
This man-made famine, at that time the greatest act of genocide in history, was reported by newspapers in several Western countries, including the United States. But even at its peak in 1933, Duranty denied that it existed: "There is no famine or actual starvation, nor is there likely to be."
"RUSSIANS HUNGRY, BUT NOT STARVING" said the heading on his March 31, 1933, report. Later, when Stalin sent old colleagues to prison or death on false charges of treason, Duranty reported that justice was being served. "Stalin is not an arrogant man," he wrote. In fact, he was "remarkably long-suffering in his treatment of various oppositions."
The evidence against Duranty piled up over the years, often in memoirs like Muggeridge's and in Robert Conquest's books on Soviet terror.
In 1990, Sally J. Taylor wrote in Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty, the New York Times's Man in Moscow (Oxford University Press) that he knew the truth all along and admitted to British diplomats that possibly 10 million had died. The New York Times editors, never eager to admit such a stain on their paper's honour, finally assigned Karl Meyer to review Duranty's work.
He called it "some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper."
Ukrainians now mark the history of the famine as Jews mark the Holocaust; this year their day of remembrance fell on Saturday, the same day as the Pulitzer announcement. Led by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association in Toronto, they have been petitioning the Pulitzer board to cancel Duranty's award. Mark von Hagen, a Columbia University historian hired by the Times to judge the prize- winning articles, reported that they were a "largely uncritical recitation of Soviet sources." He argued for withdrawing the prize but the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, disagreed. Sulzberger said it would resemble the Stalinist practice of airbrushing purged figures from official photographs. All to the contrary:
It would acknowledge a dreadful mistake. But the Pulitzer board saw it Sulzberger's way. Ukrainian groups, unsatisfied, have vowed to continue their campaign.
Underlying the Pulitzer committee's decision we can detect lingering traces of respect for communist dictatorship as a noble endeavour that turned barbarous because its leadership fell into the wrong hands.
There's still a belief abroad that communism contained an ethical core, the search for social justice, and therefore its supporters need never apologize. It's doubtful that we would extend this generosity to anyone who once embraced fascism. Had Duranty knowingly published something similar about the Nazis, such as a false denial that death camps existed, his Pulitzer would have been retracted decades ago, perhaps even before his death in 1957.
In our standard agreed-upon history of the 20th century, communism still stands morally above fascism, even though communism lasted much longer and killed many more. Meanwhile, in the place on the 11th floor of the Times that displays the framed citations of its 89 Pulitzer Prizes, there's a notice appended to Duranty's citation: "Other writers in The Times and elsewhere have discredited this coverage." "


Here’s a letter from Orysia Tracz, “Pulitzer shame”, (National Post, Nov.27, 2003):

"Re: Duranty Was Stalin's Spin Doctor, Nov. 25.

"Russians hungry but not starving," said the headline to Walter Duranty's article in 1933. It was not the Russians, it was the Ukrainians. For most of the world, and for some even now, Russia equalled the U.S.S.R., and behaved accordingly, when convenient. But even though it was all the Soviet Union, the republics were still separate -- at least in famine and persecution. Border guards shot at people crawling across the frozen Zbruch River into western Ukraine (ruled by Poland at that time). People in Russia did not believe those that got through the border were looking for bread.
My thanks to Robert Fulford for this column. As for the Pulitzer board members and The New York Times, may their consciences always remind them of their decision not to revoke Duranty's Pulitzer Prize.”

Here’s a letter from Henry Srebrnik, (National Post, Jan.26, 2004):

“Re: Who Is a Holocaust Survivor?, Jan. 24.

Leo Rechter, executive director of the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors, states that he adheres to a strict definition of a Holocaust survivor: Someone who was actually interned in a slave labour or death camp by the Nazis.
Yet even with such a watertight definition, there is room for ambiguity. Both of my parents, born and raised in Czestochowa, Poland, were incarcerated, first in the Jewish ghetto and then, in late 1943, in the HASAG concentration camp in that city. They remained there until its liberation by Soviet troops on Jan. 16-17, 1945. No other member of their respective families in Poland survived the war.
I was born in Czestochowa on July 19, 1945, some six months after their liberation. This, of course, means that I was conceived and was carried as a fetus in my mother's womb for some three months while she was an emaciated slave labourer for the Nazi regime. I am without question the child of Holocaust survivors, but am I myself a Holocaust survivor?
Henry Srebrnik, professor, Department of Political Studies, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown.”

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fawning press plays journalistic footsie with Liberal Jim Bradley's climate-change hypocrisy

Re: “Time to tackle the climate problem: commish”, Niagara This Week, Oct.26, 2007:

Doug Draper writes in his article that Ontario’s environment commissioner, Gord Miller, “noted that in the space of one year alone, between Sept. 2005 and Sept. 2006, residents in southern Ontario weathered seven severe storms”. Of what real evidentiary value is this arbitrary observation? What about between, let’s say, Sept. 2004-Sept. 2005? Or, what about between Sept. 2006-Sept. 2007 - how many fear-inspiring severe storms did our cowering populace suffer through in those arbitrary periods?

When Draper writes: “These type of storms seem to be occurring at a greater frequency and are part of what experts around the world have been predicting as one of the outcomes of climate change”, it is not clear whether Draper is attributing this paragraph to Miller, or is this Draper’s own observation? Is Draper channelling the ‘expert’ scriptures of that great bag of hot air, Al Gore? At least this paragraph used the disclaimer “seem” after “storms”; and the words “climate change” thankfully weren’t prefaced by the word 'anthropogenic'.

Not surprisingly, Draper's column just played friendly softball, or journalistic footsie, when it came to the views of champion fence-sitter, St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley.

Draper reported: "Miller said both ministries are trying to carry out their environmental reponsibilities with barely one per cent of the money the provincial government spends on all its programs". Yet Bradley's response, as typical and as predictable as if from a wind-up toy (to the probable delight of an avowed old lefty like Draper), was to trot out his obligatory straw man, Mike Harris.

Draper didn’t ask: “But, Mr. Bradley, your government had a majority for four years! Why are you only now, in this interview, saying you will be a “champion” for giving the ministries more money? Have you made public a timeline for this claim of yours? Also, since you have a budget surplus of some $2.3 billion, why hasn’t that already been allocated to ‘champion’, as you say, these ministries?”

Draper didn’t ask: “Mr. Bradley, if you value Kyoto as much as you purport, why did you and your Liberal party lie to Ontarians that you would close all coal-fired generating stations, including Nanticoke, by 2007? After all, wasn’t it your Liberals, and not some other candidate from the past, which had four years to follow through on your own promises?”

Draper didn’t ask: “Mr. Bradley, in opposition you repeatedly complained about deaths and asthmatic suffering from Nanticoke's emissions. Yet while you were breaking your promise to close the plant, for four years you didn’t even bother to at least help the situation by installing scrubbers. Doesn’t that virtually make you a champion hypocrite, sir?”

Draper didn’t mention that recently, Miller’s own commission harshly criticized Bradley’s government, giving the Grits a failing grade for enforcement funding; or that in 2006, the Sierra Club gave the Liberals an ‘F’ on climate change; or that in 2007, even Greenpeace called the Liberal's meagre climate change funding “laughable’.

With typical Liberal duplicity, good ole Jim Bradley rhetorically says one thing, does another: he talks green, enacts so-called green laws, but doesn’t actually put up the green to enforce these rules.

While an admiring press fawns over Bradley, perhaps this story's headline (Time to tackle the climate problem) can be interpreted that the “problem" we need to "tackle" is actually the problem of Liberal hypocrisy, from both Dalton McGuinty and Stephane Bumbledore Dion.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

First it was "Who has seen the wind", now it's "Who owns the wind"?


                                       The Orangeville Citizen (Oct.18, 2007) wrote about the wind turbine hearings held in Amaranth for the upcoming Melancthon II wind farm project, located west of Shelburne, Ont. Some interesting comments from the attendees were reported: "Mr. Lever says there are health issues within two miles of the turbines" wrote the paper, but no details of these claims were given. "His assertions are not within the purview of the OMB."
New towers are to be located at least 450 metres from existing homes on non-participating lands, but new homes could be constructed as close to a turbine as owners wished. Resident Earl Cowan "raised the issue of landowners reaping the harvest from wind that came from across adjoining properties. "What if I were to build a wall 120 metres high?" (to block the wind from the turbine on adjacent property)."
[...add three more walls while you're at it, and you'll have a hi-rise condo..!]

Township lawyer Jeff Wilker, the paper wrote, "said the question goes to the point of "who owns the wind. It's a developing area of law. There's not a lot of jurisprudence," he said."

Yikes... lawyers are getting involved in regulating the wind! First it was W.O. Mitchell's classic "Who has seen the wind", now it's "who owns the wind", next thing you know they'll be suing those who passed wind. Look out, windbag Al Gore might soon be handing out tickets and fines to farters!

It would be interesting to know what the specific health issues are from wind-power electrical generation. These photos (click picture to enlarge) taken Oct. 2007 show the current Melancthon project as it appears from the roadside. One of the cattle I saw had a huge growth on its right rear leg, but that's probably unrelated. Turbines can be seen several miles away as you approach the project, and there are pockets of towers scattered through out farm fields. It actually was fairly windy the day I visited, and the blades were all spinning . I didn't know what to expect, but they were not 'noisy'; the wind blowing through the fields was noisier. On some of the massive towers that were closer to the road, you could hear a little bit of a steady hum, which might have been from the blades. There is a large infrastructure already built in the form of a several-mile-long feeder-line running south to connect to the main hydro grid, along which future wind farms are sure to follow. A wind farm is also being built in Niagara, in the Wainfleet area near Lake Erie.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Will Canada's problematic long healthcare waiting-lists ever be fixed?

Regarding the Fraser Institute’s recently released wait times report, this is a Letter to Editor from Tony Clement, published in The Toronto Sun (Oct.17, 2007):

“Wait debate, Re: "Boomers need to fix medicare," (Mindelle Jacobs, Oct. 15),

It is important to highlight the fact that the data used by the Fraser Institute is based on doctors' estimates, not hard facts. The Canadian Institute of Health Information tracks the actual number of surgeries performed in Canada on an annual basis and in priority areas identified by governments, surgeries are up 7%. Even in non-priority areas, surgery volume has increased 2%. In June 2007, the Health Council of Canada also reported that data from some jurisdictions and for some services do show wait times have declined, "in some cases dramatically." I, like all Canadians, value our publicly funded, universally accessible health care system. Our government has made historic increases in health funding -- more than $1 billion focused on wait times alone -- and this year signed Patient Wait Time Guarantees with all provinces and territories. We are well on our way to creating a stronger, better health care system of which all Canadians can be proud.”

Here is Dr. Merrilee Fullerton’s response (Toronto Sun, Oct.22, 2007) to Tony Clement:

“MD has advice for Tony Clement.

Federal Minister of Health Tony Clement comments that the Fraser Institute has used data based on doctors’ estimates and not facts for its report that indicates wait times are increasing (“Wait debate, Letters, Oct.17)

Dismissing information from front line physicians who have to tell patients suffering or in pain they cannot get the care they need in the near future would seem to me to be a tad arrogant.

It would be very helpful if at some point politicians would listen to those of us who are in the front lines trying to do the best we can for patients with limited resources. Clement’s attitude is the same kind of decision making that got Canada into problems with its human health resources in the first place – including physician resources when medical schools were told to cut back enrolment across the country in the early 1990s, supposedly based on sound information in the Barer-Stoddart report. A lot of good that did Canadians.

We hardly need this same kind of short term, politically-driven decision making when we are trying to shore up our system and provide access for patients.

The federal government has dumped billions into the wait times strategy over the past few years along with billions more in additional funding provincially in Ontario. Perhaps we could have expected significant improvement in wait times. But all Clement can say is surgery volumes have increased in priority areas by seven per cent and in non-priority areas by two per cent.

It would help if CIHI (Canadian Institute of Health Information) could measure wait times instead of number of surgeries done, but even the Health Council of Canada reports wait times are difficult to measure and assess because there is no standard method of measuring. Gee, I wonder why?

Perhaps the reality would be a hard pill for some of our politicians to swallow.
Is this an approach of “don’t measure what you can’t fix”? In this scenario we should be grateful some independent organization has taken on the task of assessing wait times even if it uses information from front line providers.

As our population continues to grow over the next 20 to25 years we can expect to see volumes of services for many medical treatments and procedures increase and the concept of a few priority areas will seem quite ridiculous.

When it is your health it is a priority area to you and your family. If you think we’ve got problems now, wait until more patients are requiring more treatments as the over 65 group continues to grow.

I’ll tell my mother, who is waiting in pain for a hip replacement and is unable to enjoy her life, Clement says we are “well on our way to creating a stronger, better health system” but I somehow doubt this will ease her discomfort.

One question for Clement: How long do you expect this process of creating a stronger, better health system to take and how will it help my mother?"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ukrainian village honours Filip Konowal, recipient of Canada's Victoria Cross

This story from Mitch Potter, Europe Bureau, (Toronto Star, Oct.13, 2007):

"Victoria Cross winner in WWI, Filip Konowal, never learned Ukrainian wife, child survived Lenin's and Stalin's purges

KUDKIV, Ukraine–An impoverished village in deep rural Ukraine seems a strange place to go looking for Canada's greatest soldier. But Filip Konowal is here. A legend, a monument, a memory in granite and steel, casting shadows more tragic than previously known.

Chances are you have never heard of Konowal. Then again, who among us can name a single soldier from the Great War of 1914-1918. Canada is good at building monuments to its military past. We are not so good at reading them.

Born in 1888, Konowal left Ukraine at age 26 searching for work just as the world was about to turn upside down, presumably with every intention of returning to his wife and young daughter here. He made his way via Vladivostok to Vancouver, arriving in Canada at precisely the moment the government began rounding up and imprisoning Ukrainian Canadians as "enemy aliens." The war could easily have conquered him as well. Instead, he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Konowal's exploits over the next three years and 357 days included combat at the 1916 Battle of the Somme and the offensive at Vimy Ridge the following spring.

But it was in August 1917, during a 48-hour stand off known as the battle for Hill 70 in Lens, France, that Konowal astonished all, rushing forward and single-handedly taking out German machine-gun emplacements that were ravaging the Canadian lines. His sleepless frenzy ended when he fell to injury that left his face disfigured for life. Two months later, Konowal found himself in London, standing before King George V, who pinned on this peripatetic Ukrainian the rarely awarded Victoria Cross: "Your exploit is one of the most daring and heroic in the history of my army. For this, accept my thanks."

Ukraine was no longer in reach by war's end, and here in Kudkiv, it is easy to see why. Across the town square, opposite the statue to Konowal, amounted bust of Vladimir Ilich Lenin can still be found. Now, Lenin's nose has been chiselled away, perhaps to spite his face. KudkivMayor Konstantin Dukunets says the Lenin statue will soon be gone. "There are a handful of Communist supporters left. I invited them to pay to repair Lenin's statue. But they declined, so we are tearing it down," says Dukunets, 46. "Ukraine lost 80 years to dictatorship and we are still crawling out of this legacy. But we will leave some of the memory of what happened. We need to remember so we do not make the same mistakes again."

Dukunets' predecessor would not have been able to speak to a foreign journalist. He would have reported us to the secret police. But on this night, in a village with no hotel, the mayor opens his home, offering spare beds, old-world home cooking and, inevitably, vodka. At dusk he takes us on a walkabout and everywhere we see babushkas –ubiquitous Ukrainian grandmothers – busy in their black-dirt gardens, pulling in the last of the harvest. The Internet has yet to arrive in Kudkiv. In fact, it was only this month that the last of the area villages were hooked up to the national gas line, a feat that means no more chopping wood to stay warm in winter. Half the village has running water; the other half relies on a community well.

We bump into a smiling pensioner, Olexandre Guslyakov, 67, who proudly displays the "Guslyakov One" – a working tractor, replete with hydraulic steering, that he has cobbled together from parts salvaged from six rusting trucks, tractors and cars. It took three years of ingenuity to get the thing running. Asked if he will make another, Guslyakov shrugs: "Maybe, if necessary. This is how Ukraine survives."

As we move deeper along a footpath into the waterless side of Kudkiv, Dukunets leads us to a single-storey dwelling that was Konowal's ancestral home. We have no expectations here, as it is widely understood among Canadian-Ukrainians that Konowal's wife and child perished in the Stalin reign of terror.

The loss of his original family was a wound that Konowal eventually overcame: he remarried in Canada and became a janitor on Parliament Hill. He was sanguine about his employment status in later life, once telling the Ottawa Citizen: "I mopped up overseas with a rifle and here I must mop up with a mop."

But as Konowal's door swings open in Kudkiv, a shock awaits. Here before us stands Ganna Vasylyivna Motsna, 71, granddaughter of Filip Konowal. Konowal died in 1959, never living long enough to know his original family survived Stalin's purges. His wife Anna, lived well into the 1940s. Daughter Maria, whom he last saw at age 3, lived until 1986, to age 75. Ganna, now a grandmother herself, bursts into tears as we revisit the story of the grandfather she knows only by legend. "It was a difficult time in history," she says. "Filip had to go away to earn money. Just like today, the young people go away to earn."

Ganna says the Konowal genes served the family well through the Soviet years. "We were survivors. Even my mother. She was very brave, not afraid of anything. Through all those years, we knew nothing of my grandfather. There was no information on people abroad. "Not until the Soviet collapse did we learn anything. And now here I am crying for a man I never met. I don't know why. I am just touched that people come from so far away to pay respects."

The next morning, as we take our leave of Kudkiv, fresh flowers can be seen on the monument to Konowal. Across the square, Lenin is still missing his nose."
Thank you.

Stop the misleading rhetoric about Canada's healthcare record

Here is Nadeem Esmail's response (National Post, Oct.20, 2007) to Tony Clement:

"Health Minister has the facts wrong

Re: Health Minister Defends Wait Times, letter to the editor, Oct. 17.

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement's letter regarding The Fraser Institute's report on hospital waiting times makes two major mistakes. First, The Fraser Institute publishes Canada's only national, comparable and comprehensive measurement of wait times for medically necessary services. The survey is mailed to all of Canada's practising specialists for whom we have contact information with a response rate of 26%. This is not a small or unreliable sample.

The second mistake pertains to the minister's discussion of Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data showing an increasing number of surgeries in Canada as proof that wait times are improving. Unfortunately, those numbers are only one side of the equation. Without information on the demand for surgeries, it is impossible to determine what the CIHI data means for wait times. Demand for surgery may have increased by more than the increase in the number of surgeries.

Canada's health care system is the developed world's second most expensive universal access health insurance program and is unable to deliver timely access to medically necessary care for many Canadians. Canada requires leadership on health care, not rhetoric and misleading information.

Nadeem Esmail, director of health system performance studies, The Fraser Institute, Vancouver."
Now's about the time for that 'plan B', isn't it? In Ontario, we should also be asking the McGuinty Liberals, who are actually responsible for the health system, to stop their rhetoric and misinformation as well. On Sept. 26, 2007, during the election, we saw a sullen McGuinty walk away from cancer patient Mike Brady, calling Brady's claims that McGuinty wasn't helping him "not true". It's frightening how many more patients a re-elected and now emboldened McGuinty will walk away from in the next four long years.
We need consumer choice in healthcare to be reintroduced and to be placed back into the hands of the patient.

Canadian healthcare's miserable waiting lists

A National Post story, “Surgery waits longest yet” (Oct.16, 2007), reported: “Canadians waited longer than they have in more a decade for non-emergency surgery this year, despite a multi-billion-dollar effort by governments to speed up medical care, according to a controversial think-tank report released yesterday.

The average wait between being referred to a specialist and receiving an elective operation was 18.3 weeks in 2006, up from 17.8 the year previous, concluded the conservative Fraser Institute in its annual look at medical backlogs. That is the longest delay recorded since the institute began studying the issue 17 years ago.”…“Clearly, money is not the solution," said Nadeem Esmail, a Fraser health care analyst and co-author of the report. "We're dumping money into the system; we're piling on cash that the system has available to deliver health care and it is not able to significantly reduce the waiting times. In fact, we're seeing the wait times continue to grow."

As it has in previous years, the institute argued that the way to solve the backlogs is to introduce competition between private and public providers of government-funded health care and allow a parallel private system.”

Nadeem Esmail also wrote in “Imagine: a universal health system without waiting lists”, (National Post, October 17, 2007):

“In 2007, waiting times for access to health care in Canada reached a new historical high: 18.3 weeks averaged across 12 medical specialties. While many politicians will respond to this recently announced news by pointing to costly new government programs, few will ask the important question: Why are Canadians waiting at all?

Wait lists for medically necessary health care are Canada's shame. Canadians are generally proud of their universal access health insurance program. But, as two Supreme Court Justices recently stated, "Access to a waiting list is not access to health care."

Canadians waited some 25 weeks for cataract surgery in 2007, from the time their general practitioner (GP) referred them to a specialist to the time they received treatment. More alarmingly, Canadians waited some 42 weeks from GP referral to treatment for joint replacement.

Consider for a moment the costs a wait of that magnitude entails.

Of course, there are the medical costs: a potentially worse outcome from surgery, or a potentially more difficult surgery/recovery as a result of deterioration over the 42-week period. But there are also significant personal costs. Any wait time, even a short one, entails pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost productivity and strained personal relationships. Wait times can also take a toll on the family and friends of those waiting, and may even have an effect on an individual's ability to earn a living.

According to the Pan-Canadian Benchmark Wait Times announced jointly by the federal, provincial and territorial governments in December, 2005, being treated within 26 weeks from the time a Canadian sees a specialist to the time they receive treatment for hip or knee replacement surgery is considered reasonable. So is being treated within 26 weeks for level 3 cardiac bypass surgery, or 16 weeks for cataract surgery for patients at "high risk," or four weeks for radiation therapy. Yet many of the provincial wait times guarantees announced earlier this year are much longer than even these generous targets.

For those wondering how we can get ourselves out of this mess, the answer is surprisingly simple. Canadians must move beyond the politics and rhetoric that plague the health care debate and let our policy reform be guided by a serious examination of the policies of the nations that deliver universal access health insurance without waiting lists.

Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg and Switzerland provide what many Canadians might see as the impossible dream. In each of these nations, individuals are guaranteed access to health insurance regardless of their ability to pay. And each of those individuals, regardless of their income, has access to the health care they need without waiting lists. Equally importantly, the cost of these health care systems is, on an age-adjusted basis, similar to or less than Canada's.

In these nations, patients are free to choose for themselves whether their care provider will be a public or private hospital, all under the terms of the public insurance contract. They must, however, share in the cost of the care they consume, which encourages them to make more informed decisions. Patients in these nations are also free to purchase the care they desire privately if they wish to do so. While patients in these seven nations bear more personal financial responsibility, they also enjoy more freedom in determining who will pay for and who will deliver the care they need. The result is that patients enjoy access to care without waiting lists.

Each of these sensible policies has come under fire in Canada as a road to the "Americanization" of health care. But the experiences of those seven nations shows that these polices will do nothing of the sort. Instead, they will provide Canadians with wait list-free access to a world-class health care program regardless of ability to pay, a significant departure from the system we have today.”

Ah, yes, 'Americanization', the left-lib's favourite boogeyman fear-mongering word! Contrast the above story to this, “Keep hospitals public, protesters say at rally,” (Niagara This Week, Aug.22, 2007) : “The Trojan horse is private healthcare,” said Louis Rodrigues of a group calling itself the Niagara Healthcare Coalition. “It’s a false gift to the people of Ontario that will ultimately destroy the public (institution)” . The story wrote: "Rodrigues said that creating a two-tier health-care system would lead to hospitals cutting corners for bigger profits, and higher costs for patients”…“We want to keep everything public,” said Aina Fl;ack, a Niagara Health Coalition volunteer. “We don’t want anything to be how it is in the States. It’s going to cost us more.” Rodrigues said he doesn’t understand why the province ever began considering moving toward privatization."

The “privatization” being referred to was the Liberal-appropriated-from-the-PC’s P-3 public-private-partnerships plan for new hospital construction; and also to John Tory’s election proposal to involve more private delivery into healthcare – paid for by the health card, conveniently not mentioned by this group in the story. This is the level of fear-mongering which has to be addressed. Any concern for patients is overshadowed by a blind faith in the greatness of the current killer status-quo.

Here’s a story from the St.Catharines Standard (Oct.20, 2007), “Union to spend $5M to stop privatization":

"Canada's largest union committed itself Friday to a $5-million national campaign aimed at fighting privatization of services.
Delegates to the convention of the Canadian Union of Public Employees approved the strategic initiative aimed at bolstering public services - or at least stopping their erosion.
The program calls for a combination of strikes, demonstrations, lobbying and political campaigns to achieve the goal of fighting off privatization in sectors where the union is active, such as in health care, municipalities, social services, education and child care."

Note that union millions are to be spent on propaganda to stop privatization, not, of course, to help patients. That’s not on the agenda. Saving cozy, non-competitive monopolies is the goal!

David Maharaj wrote in the Toronto Sun (Oct.19, 2007): “The only way to fix medicare is to unleash the free market into the system. Unfortunately, free-market principles have taken a back seat to ever-growing waiting lists. It seems as though some Canadians, along with the political hacks that keep getting them elected, believe in equality, as in equal access to mediocre health care.”

George Jonas wrote in “Be patient. You're Canadian” (National Post, Oct.20, 2007):

'Doctor, it hurts." "Ah, I see the problem. Not to worry; I know the surgeon to fix it."

"How soon?"

"Well, Christmas is just around the corner, then January, February, March, maybe a bit of April. By Easter you'll be as right as rain."

"Wow! Is it going to take four months to heal?"

"Hell, no; healing takes a few weeks. The four months is to book the procedure."

"Four months! Good Lord ?" "No, the Lord is in charge of healing. Booking comes under universal health care. Be thankful it's not the other way around."

"Thanks, doc. I'm counting my blessings."

"That's the spirit. Remember, you're a Canadian."

The imaginary conversation above illustrates average waiting times, not the longest. An Ontarian only waits from Christmas until the spring equinox. In Tommy Douglas's jolly old Saskatchewan, birthplace of socialized medicine, a patient copes with the pain of being a Canadian from Christmas until the summer solstice.

Like afternoon shadows, Canada's queues have been steadily lengthening since the Fraser Institute began surveying them 17 years ago. This week, the conservative think-tank's annual report confirms what everybody in the country knows -- though some keep denying -- namely that waiting times for many types of surgical procedures in Canada's public health system are uncomfortably and sometimes dangerously long. The 2006 figure, a nationwide average of 18.3 weeks between referral to a specialist and climbing on the operating table, gives new meaning to the word "patient."

Considering that tax dollars aimed at reducing queues have steadily increased during this period, it seems safe to assume that throwing money at the problem isn't making it go away. Usually, people get what they pay for, but taxpayers are an exception. Having paid more for medical care in 2006 than in 2005, Canadians had to wait for non-emergency surgery on average about half a week longer.

Why are people in Saskatchewan content to wait six months for knee surgery that private medicine could offer them in six days south of the border in Montana? It's hard to say. Small farmers may feel reassured knowing that no matter how big a neighbour's spread is, he will not get quicker or better medical care than they do. No one getting better before anyone else is supposed to make us a gentler, kinder society.

How? Why? Don't ask me. Especially don't ask Aristotle, Descartes, Schopenhauer, the Pope or the Dalai Lama. Ask Liberal-appointed socialist health commissioner Roy Romanow.

Health-envy is uniquely Canadian. Most nations are content knowing that money can't buy happiness. Canadians want to make sure that it can't buy health care either.

The curious thing is that in other respects Canadians take it for granted that satisfying wants and needs is a legitimate use of people's resources. In Canada, money buys everything, as it should in a free society, from tastier meals to speedier wheels, from bigger houses to slimmer spouses. A Canadian can buy free-enterprise hamburgers to agitate his gall bladder; he has to stand in line only for a government physician to calm it down.

Come on, someone might say, two-tiered systems aren't allowed in other areas, either. Money can't buy justice.

Well, maybe, but it can buy lawyers, and lawyers do have something to do with outcomes in legal disputes -- at least one hopes so. Money can't buy knowledge, but it can buy training; it can't buy salvation, but it can buy prayers. And while money can't buy love, it can buy a reasonable facsimile, right down to marriage vows.

No one can guarantee health, but people should be able to buy therapy. Making therapy a government monopoly, and then doling it out on whatever basis -- first-come-first-served, lottery, status, connections or some murky bureaucratic set of priorities --combines iniquity with inefficiency.

It's an additional irony that Canadians are deluding themselves. There is two-tiered medicine in this country, or rather three-tiered, only the second tier is called the "inside track" and the third, the United States. Anyone who thinks that wealthy or well-connected Canadians stand meekly in line and wait 18.3 weeks to see a specialist doesn't live on this planet. The well-connected jump the queue, while the rich hop on a plane -- make it a private plane for the really rich -- and get themselves looked after in Cleveland, Austin, Phoenix or Rochester.

Who loses? People with gallstones who could afford private insurance, but aren't sufficiently well-connected for queue-jumping or rich enough for private planes. In short, most Canadians.

"Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets…" Lola, of course, is a Damn Yankee. She'd be singing a different tune if she had a bum knee north of the 49th parallel.”
I’m reminded of a line written by Mark Steyn to the effect that Canadian healthcare has now developed a 10 month waiting list for pregnancies! It just sums up the ludicrousness of it all, doesn’t it?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fantasy Liberal throne speech shows Bumbledore Dion's not a contender

This past week, Canada's Opposition Leader Stephane Dion capitulated and acquiesced to do nothing about the Oct. 16, 2007 Throne speech; yet, just in September, Dion was threatening that if the Throne speech didn't meet four Liberal demands, he would vote against it!

Obviously, Dion didn’t bravely and resolutely stand firm on his often-stated, so-called, deep convictions; nor on his apparently dear, cherished beliefs; or even on his supposedly strong principles. Dion didn’t ante up to call the sitting minority government’s 'bluff' to trigger an election. No, despite all his posturing, sputtering, sneering and back-pedalling, when he had his chance to fish-or-cut-bait, Dion did… nothing! Dion folded!

This saint was doing Canadians a favour through his painful suffering, you see, to save us from an unnecessary election! It had nothing to do with the fact, either, that Dion's Liberals got their clock cleaned recently in three Quebec by-elections! On TV, Dion made his rambling, at times unintelligible, speech in the House rationalizing his inaction, and worse, invoked Al Gore, to roars of laughter in the background. Michael Ignatieff could be seen behind Dion, rolling his eyes and at times chuckling himself. Apparently, Dion got 14 standing ovations (for bravery to abandon his convictions?), 7 of which, according to CTV's Mike Duffy, Iggy didn't bother to even stand up for.

Dion then made another bizarre turn in his manic, contradictory, zig-zag role as Liberal leader: he wrote a manifesto in the Toronto Star (Oct. 20, 2007) purportedly being his fantasy Throne speech as he believed it would/should/could have been!

Where - in Bizarro World?

Dion lists in his faux Throne speech all the great and wonderful and magnificent accomplishments that he "would have" done!! “Would have done” if only what…oh yeah, if only earlier this week Dion had actually done something about the real Throne speech, rather than whine after having done nothing?? Dion’s pathetic pretend document was, strangely, written “for the Toronto Star”!? Wow, a Liberal delivers his fake Throne speech to Star sycophants, but not actually to Canadians! Dion's still-born dirge is full of repetitive ‘I would have done this’s’ and ‘I would have done that’s’ and has a kind of melancholy swan-song defeatism wafting through its narrative core.

Dion, (taking over Paul "Stumbledore" Martin's role as Mr.Dithers the 2nd) waxes poetic about his nostalgic “alternative plan for Canada”; yet, he had a chance Oct.17 to put into motion all which he claims to care about, by simply deciding not to support the Oct. 16 Throne speech, thereby triggering an election.

Dion laughably writes that the Conservative’s Throne Speech was “all talk, no action”. Is he kidding?! After taking no action himself, Dion pens a self-indulgent work of fiction which is all talk! Is the utter irony lost on this so-called “leader”? Dion, after unwittingly writing his own set-up, then writes his own unfortunate punch-line: “That just isn’t my style”. Who writes Dion’s jokes? Waffling and inaction is ‘not his style’…that is funny material...oh, sorry, he was being serious? Is this comedian the best talent the not-ready-for-primetime Grits can dredge up?

Dion is a 'leader' who, as the Star wrote in bold-face-type above his letter, was simply “talked out of voting against the Conservative throne speech” by his own party! Some leader – compromised on his own supposedly-core, long-held, unshakable beliefs; shaken out of his own idealistic better judgement, and now hypocritically crying foul over his own impotence in a pointless Star diatribe.

This entire sad denouement is an outright admission of what might not have been, had political eunuch Dion actually taken decisive action, put his money where his mouth is, and let the chips fall where they may. This Grit has outed himself as the legendary self-emasculated wizard "Bumbledore" of Fuddle-Duddleonia.

Now, he’s not even worthy of the phrase “I coulda been a contenda”.

Friday, October 19, 2007

After five hospitals & 28 hours of pain, Canadian finally has appendix removed

This story by Laura Drake (National Post, Oct.19, 2007):

"Appendix removal took 28 hours, Tried 5 Hospitals

OTTAWA - When Dany Bureau's stomach started to hurt last week, he blamed it on his McDonald's dinner. He never imagined that the pain would eventually lead to his being turned away from five hospitals, getting lost in an ambulance en route to Montreal and a burst appendix removed 28 hours after his original diagnosis. Mr. Bureau, 21, was diagnosed with appendicitis in Wakefield's Gatineau Memorial hospital last Friday afternoon.
The small hospital does not have surgical capacity, so his doctor started looking around for one that did. Usually, patients from Wakefield are sent to Hull or Gatineau, but on that night, there were no available beds at either.
"They started calling all the hospitals around the regions," Mr. Bureau said yesterday.
[Meanwhile, his father, Robert, was waiting at home to find out which hospital his son would get in to. "I kept getting calls saying, 'We tried Hull, not working. Gatineau, not working. Buckingham, not working. Ottawa, not working. Maniwaki, no response.' I thought, oh my God, where are we going to end up, the States?"
After several hours of searching for a surgeon to no avail, a surgeon was eventually confirmed in Montreal. As Dany waited for an ambulance to arrive to take him from Wakefield, the pain in his side growing deeper and more unbearable, he said he was confused at why he had to go so far for what he thought was a simple surgery.
"If someone had something a lot more serious than me, what would they do? Or if the Montreal hospital had no personnel, what would I have done? Where would I have gone? I don't know."
Had Bureau gone to the States, chances are he wouldn't have waited so long. Please, do not tell Michael Moore of this anecdotal healthcare anomaly from Canada, home of the World's Best health system!

Another wait time death

A story, “Wait times longest for seniors: study” (St. Catharines Standard, Oct.19,2007) reported that across Canada, 10% of patients admitted to ER had to wait 15 hours or longer for a bed and that the average age of those waiting 24 hours or more was 67, and 52% of these patients were female.

Three days earlier on Oct. 16, 2007, the St.Catharines Standard ran another story, “Warning sounded on bed shortages” stating that “bed shortages in local hospitals are getting worse”, with an eyewitness account from Dr. Keith Greenway about a cancer patient right in Niagara who passed away while waiting in the hallway for a bed.
Yet, it was only on Sept.30, 2006 that the Standard ran a story, “More hospital beds not in the cards: premier”, where Dalton McGuinty “deflected answers about funding additional beds to alleviate wait times.”

On Sept.29, 2007, during the election campaign, the Standard ran a story, “Emergency in health care”, as well as another story featuring Suzanne Aucoin, “Groups call for improved cancer care”, as well as James Wallaces’ “Clock ticking on healthcare system”, all detailing a plethora of problems within our health system.

Yet during the Sept. 2007 election campaign, Liberal Jim Bradley said precious little about these healthcare issues that have been fermenting under his government’s reign, as he was busy fear mongering about an imaginary fragmentation of our school system!

In each of these preceding St. Catharines Standard stories, no mention was made of, and no reaction was reported from our local MPP, Jim Bradley. Readers would like to know whether Jim Bradley is being contacted for local story reactions or not, with a comment in the story from the local reporter such as ‘Bradley’s office was contacted for reaction about this issue, but declined comment’.

It's as if good ol’ Jim Bradley, Minister for Seniors, conveniently doesn’t have much to do about any of these severe systemic healthcare problems which he and his party have helped create.

Kyodiots go fishing

Liberal leader and dogmatic Kyodiot Stephane Dion had his chance, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in the House, to “fish or cut bait” after the Conservative government’s Throne speech Tuesday in Ottawa.

Dion was in over his head, dropping his tackle in the water as he back-pedalled, huffed and puffed with all the righteous indignation he could muster. Obviously Kyoto isn’t as important an issue to force an election or stake your reputation on, as Dion's Liberals, after all their emitted hot air, made it out to be.

After a decade, Dion and his Liberal majority government 'couldn't get it done ' (as Ignatieff put it) when they had the chance to; now, they 'couldn't get it done' again when they had a chance to, against a minority government. This Liberal hypocrisy has wasted so much time and money.

Dion’s Kyodiot dogma was (is?) so ingrained that he even named his dog Kyoto. It might be time to put the old dogma out of its misery. After this performance, Dion might soon find himself with a lot more time on his hands to actually go fishing.

Dear Captain Kyoto, can we now say: Kyoto Kaput?

Let’s put Dion’s dismal performance after the Oct.16, 2007 Throne speech in context to this story, “Stephane Dion's Kyoto problem”, which ran in the National Post on Feb.5, 2007:

“Stephane Dion, the Liberal leader, is in full-fledged denial of the obvious.
Last summer, he admitted to National Post columnist John Ivison that if he became prime minister, Canada would remain part of the Kyoto treaty through to when it runs out in 2012, but that it would never meet its emission-reduction targets. Specifically, Mr. Dion told Mr. Ivison: "In 2008, I will be part of Kyoto but I will say to the world I don't think I will make it." However, now that Mr. Dion wants to convince voters he is Captain Kyoto - the most environmentally committed politician in the country's history - he is claiming that he meant something completely different, and that he can still reach Canada's Kyoto targets providing he becomes prime minister in 2007.
For years, the Liberals -- who signed Kyoto in 1997 and ratified it in 2002 -- struggled with how to reach Canada's mandated target of a 6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (not pollution) below 1990 levels. They never settled on a plan. Meanwhile, they watched as emissions rose to nearly 30% above 1990 levels.
Internally, many in the Liberal government admitted this country would never meet its Kyoto commitments. But publicly, no minister ever conceded that fact. They all clung to the charade that somewhere over the next hill or around the next corner lies a new technology that would enable Canada to dramatically reduce emissions without cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs and devastating the economy.
So Mr. Dion's admission of last summer was a stunner, so much so that Mr. Ivison checked his tape of their conversation against the tape made by Mr. Dion's staff to make certain he had heard the new Liberal chief correctly. He had.
However, since becoming leader two months ago, Mr. Dion has invested so much of his public image in his unwavering belief in the science of climate change, and in Kyoto as a necessary step to reversing global warming, that he cannot afford to have voters thinking that just seven short months ago he was prepared to admit Kyoto was a bust. So on Thursday, in a letter to the editor, Mr. Dion claimed Mr. Ivison had misinterpreted his words. Mr. Dion now maintains that he did not mean Canada would fall short of its Kyoto goals. Rather, he claims he meant that Canada would not be able to meet its targets in 2008 if he did not become prime minister before that time. (Of course, even if he doesn't become PM till 2008 or thereafter, Canada would still meet its Kyoto target, we are told - -just not until 2012.)
All of this serves to remind us of Bill Clinton's response under oath that the answer to a question asked by federal investigators depended "on what the meaning of 'is' is." Mr. Dion's meaning last summer was clear. There was no ambiguity. He is running from that confession now merely to save the cornerstone of his strategy for the next federal election.
Just how far Mr. Dion is prepared to go to capture the "green" sentiment of voters may have also been revealed, inadvertently, on Thursday by Ontario Liberal MP Mark Holland, the party's natural resources critic. Speaking on the nationally syndicated radio talk show Adler Online, Mr. Holland told host Charles Adler that the Liberals were prepared to place severe restrictions on the development of Alberta's oil sands in order to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas released in the mining process. "We're going to say [that] you cannot exploit that resource," Mr. Holland admitted, "[that you cannot] go in there and pump it out as fast as you can to give it to the Americans and sell out our national interests and blow apart our emissions targets."
Talk about a "hidden agenda." Mr. Holland's remarks revived the twin spectres of the Liberals' National Energy Program of the 1980s and their vehement anti- Americanism of the past decade, in one swoop. Meanwhile, Mr. Dion's denial of an obvious admission showed his party still has trouble giving voters the straight goods. All of this should give voters plenty of food for thought in the next election.”
Yeah, we just got a good look at the menu. How many versions of the truth are in this Liberal broth? It's enough to make you sick.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Defending long Canadian medical wait times is B.S.

Here's Dr. Merrilee Fullerton's response in the National Post (Oct.18, 2007) to yesterday's letter from Clement:

"We deserve some honesty about health care.
Re: Health Minister Defends Wait Times, letter to the editor, Oct. 17
With respect to the wait times information commented on by the federal Minister of Health, Tony Clement, the Canada Health Council posts on its own Web site that the information needed to paint a cross-Canada picture of wait times today compared to three years ago is not available, despite commitments that it would be. Therefore, it seems highly unreasonable for Mr. Clement to criticize The Fraser Institute for attempting to gather information about what is occurring with wait times by communicating with front-line providers.The idea that the institute's information is not valid because it is based on front-line providers' estimates and not "hard fact" is the same kind of attitude that created the physician shortage in Canada in the first place, when governments implemented parts of the Barer-Stoddard Report that led to medical school cutbacks in the early 1990s." As our population ages and more health care is required, it will matter little to you if the government has increased surgery volumes in priority areas by 7% and non-priority areas by 2% if you still can't get the care you need in a timely way.How long does Mr. Clement expect this process of creating a stronger, better health care system to take and what should I tell my patients whose lives are negatively affected now? At some point, our politicians need to be honest with the public."
(This story ran with a photo showing patients lining the hallways of Sacre Ceour Hospital in Montreal as they await care)
(oh yeah - Bet that Bob Rae and Michael Decter well remember the infamous 'let's get rid of doctors to cut costs' Barer-Stoddard report; aka the B.S. report!)
There better be a 'plan B' both in the federal and provincial healthcare playbook. As Ontario's health minister George Smitherman once said, the province can't do it all - yet he then did his best to sabotage patients' choice and ban patients from the opportunity of looking after themselves. This is simply dangerous hypocrisy, and is politically unacceptable. In this absence of political leadership, a Supreme Court ruling cannot come soon enough. Unfortunately in the interim, many Ontario patients are being forced to suffer by glacial government inaction.

Canadian wait times not hard facts?!

Here's Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement's comment on yesterday's wait-times story, (National Post,Oct.17, 2007):

"Re: Surgery Waits Longest Yet, Oct.16.
It is important to highlight the fact that the data used by the Fraser Institute is based on doctors' estimates, not hard fact. The studies conducted by the Canadian Institute of Health Information are much more accurate. The institute tracks the actual number of surgeries performed in Canada on an annual basis. It reports that in priority areas identified by governments, surgeries are up 7%. Even in non-priority areas, surgery volume has increased 2%. In June 2007, the Health Council of Canada also reported that data from some jurisdictions and for some services do show that wait times have declined, "in some cases dramatically."I, like all Canadians, value our publicly funded, universally accessible health care system. Our commitment to wait times reduction is clear. Our government has made historic increases in health funding -- over $1-billion focused on wait times alone -- and this year signed Patient Wait Time Guarantees with all provinces and territories. We are well on our way to creating a stronger, better health care system of which all Canadians can be proud."
Yes, this is all fine and proper, until a Supreme Court challenge finds otherwise. Then, the state's monopoly would be subject to challenge, competition, and hopefully, a meaningful choice would develop for patients. Which in no way at all suggests that the provinces would be able to walk away from their responsibilities. It would mean, as distateful as it seems to those protected by monopoly,that they would have to compete for patients.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another Canadian patient forced to U.S. for treatment due to long Ontario wait lists.

This from Tom Blackwell (National Post, Sep.6, 2007):

"Lawsuit challenges ban on private care.
Patient Treated In U.S.; Wait list almost cost Ontario woman her eyesight.

“TORONTO - It cost her $95,000, but Shona Holmes says she would be blind today if she had not sought diagnosis, then treatment for a rare eye condition in the United States, circumventing months-long wait lists in Ontario.

Her unsettling case has added ammunition to a lawsuit filed yesterday that seeks to strike down provincial bans on private medicine, private MRI clinics and private health insurance.
Opening the door to for-profit health care would make the system more efficient and curb the kind of delays that threatened Mrs. Holmes' eyesight, argues the conservative advocacy group behind the suit.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation, which is financing a similar case in Alberta, hopes to eventually bring the issue before the Supreme Court of Canada, which has already ruled that Quebec's prohibition on private health insurance is illegal unless health care queues are cut.
"France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and Japan have virtually no waiting lists, and all of these countries allow various kinds of private health care," said John Carpay of the foundation. "Canada is unique in the world, along with North Korea and Cuba, in making it illegal."

Critics, however, say that evidence shows that private medicine would not help reduce the waiting-list problem, and called the lawsuit a threat to the positive aspects of medicare.
Proponents of the case are taking advantage of people like Mrs. Holmes, charged Doris Grinspun, executive director of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

"What to me is so distressing, is when people start to prey on the vulnerability of patients to further their ideological agenda," she said. "I think it is reprehensible."

Mrs. Holmes told a news conference organized by the foundation the costs she rung up have been "financially devastating," requiring her husband to hold down two jobs and the family to remortgage their house.

The province has so far refused to reimburse her.

The Ontario woman said later, however, that allowing private health care is not necessarily the key to solving problems like hers.

What is important is that the system offer the kind of patient-centred, compassionate
and speedy service she received from the Mayo Clinic.

"Free [taxpayer-funded] health care is a wonderful thing, if you can access it," she said.
"It is wonderful that it is free but if you have no access to it, it is of no value."

The foundation hopes to capitalize on the Supreme Court's Chaoulli decision, which said Quebec must either significantly reduce waiting times or lift its prohibition on citizens taking out private health insurance.

The court ruled that the ban violated Quebec's Charter of Rights, though the judges were evenly divided on whether it contravened the federal Charter, leaving the law in the rest of Canada less clear.

The Ontario case was launched on behalf of both Mrs. Holmes 43, a self-employed mother of two from Hamilton, Ont., and Lindsay McCreith, a retired body shop owner who paid for an MRI and brain-tumour surgery in Buffalo after being told he would have to wait months to see a specialist in Ontario.

The statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court yesterday argues provincial laws that bar doctors from billing patients directly -- effectively banning private medicine -- deny patients access to timely care, and so violate the right to life and security of the person guaranteed by the Charter's Section 7.

It makes similar arguments about the ban on private health insurance and private MRI facilities.
Mrs. Holmes began suffering vision problems and other symptoms in mid-March, 2005.
An MRI she received seven weeks later revealed she had a brain tumour between her optic chiasm -- where nerves from the eyes cross over each other -- and pituitary gland.

Nevertheless, she said she was forced to wait until mid-July and mid-September respectively to see an endocrinologist and neurologist.

Worried about her fast-deteriorating eyesight, Mrs. Holmes travelled in June to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, which concluded the tumour was responsible for her vision problems and recommended it be removed immediately to save her eyesight, and possibly her life.
She returned to Ontario, but the neurosurgeon she saw there said additional tests and examinations were necessary, meaning delays of several more weeks.

Mrs. Holmes finally decided to return to the Mayo Clinic and have the cyst removed.
Within 10 days of the Aug. 1 surgery, her full vision had been restored."

What’s disgusting is that pro-medicare advocates, like Doris Grinspun, prey upon patients by simply propagating the mantra that Ontario’s healthcare works, when in fact, again, it didn’t.

Another Canadian patient was forced to travel to the U.S.for treatment because the reprehensible ideological healthcare monopoly Grinspun so cherishes, failed to deliver.

Again, when socialist healthcare rhetoric met medical reality, it was Mayo-1, Ontario-no score.

Please, do not tell Michael Moore of these anomalies in sicko North Nirvana.