Friday, November 30, 2007

A Liberal Bag Of Gas

This by Roman Bobak "Singing a different tune", (Niagara This Week, Jun.22, 2007):

"Remember when St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley bragged in opposition he was going to introduce a private member's bill to control gasoline pricing and challenged then-premier Mike Harris' Conservatives to give it quick passage?
Remember Bradley's frequent, yet unproven, claims of price-fixing? Remember him stating that if the premier was truly concerned about about gas prices, he'd move ahead with a predatory pricing law in Ontario?
Remember him demanding that former Consumer Minister Dave Tsubouchi call the captains of the oil industry on the carpet for yet another unjustified, dramatic increase in the retail price of gasoline?
Remember future Tourism Minister bradley complaining in 1997 of gas price gouging by the oil companies, when gas was a shocking 62 cents a litre?
How ironic that Bradley's Liberals have done so much that gas prices have almost doubled.
Bradley liked to huff and puff that Tories were apologists for the 'big oil bosses'.
Bradley's own words have morphed into a sad self-portrait of self-serving Liberals. Remember that on election day."

Healthcare: reform, not rhetoric

This by Roman Bobak, "Health care: reform, not rhetoric" (Niagara This Week, Oct.20, 2006):

"Having read Joseph A. Sommer’s letter in Niagara This Week, Sept. 29, I wonder if we could stop wrapping our flag around the Canada Health Act, cloaking it in misplaced jingoistic nationalism, and endowing it with sacred, immutable powers.

Canada is not the only country in the world with with a universal health system, and universal-healthcare is not the same thing as a government-run monopoly.The CHA needs reform to acknowledge a patient's right to choice in health care payer and provider options.

Can we reconsider our predictably typical knee-jerk reaction of bashing the U.S. healthcare system, which is a red-herring argument and does nothing to improve our own failing system?
Yes, Americans in a country of some 300 million don't buy health insurance - but in Liberal Ontario, over a million people out of some 12 million don't even have a doctor - and they are insured by OHIP! The model Canada needs is the European hybrid of public and private-parallel health-care. As for fear-mongering about Conservatives, we can thank the NDPer-reincarnated as a Liberal Bob Rae for cutting med-school enrolments in Ontario during the dark days of his socialist reign in the early '90s.

Two-tier is here and has been for a long time. Allan Rock admitted in 2000 that "Liberals have allowed a parallel system of private for-profit medicine to flourish". Jean Chretien said "It's not a sin" to promote private health care. Jack Layton said the NDP would not seek to close private clinics, and was himself a patient of the private Shouldice clinic. Tommy Douglas believed private health care options were a fundamental aspect to his sysytem, as was the concept of a patient co-pay. Liberal Keith Martin said that "all five principles of the CHA are broken in every province, everyday day", yet hospital ERs, like recently in Cambridge, Ont., resort to the private sector for doctors. And when stark medical reality supersedes Liberal ideology, the Liberals send patients to the U.S. for treatment which the Liberals are unable to provide in Ontario. So let's stop the "altars of greed" rhetoric, and move on to reform."

Canadian 'universal medicare' is delivered in the States

This by R. Bobak from the Thorold Niagara News, Mar.1, 2006:

“It’s time that more writers like Nicole Montreuil (Privatize OHIP? But that’s blasphemy…Feb.22) challenge Canada’s medicare status-quo.

The Canada Health Act, to our detriment, has unfortunately become a symbolic crutch of Canadian identity and an instrument of dogmatic statism played by those more interested in health-scare than health-care.

It seems those most opposed to even incremental private-sector healthcare participation (“it’s un-Canadian” – “it’s U.S.-style” – “it’s a slippery slope”) aren’t so much concerned that it won’t work, but that it will, exposing their hollow single-tier, public-payer, hypocritical posturing.

Canada’s abolishment of choice in healthcare provider and payer options is rivalled only by Cuba and North Korea’s.

Quebec’s Chaoulli decision shocked the rosy left-wing world view of many myopic Canadians. It essentially revealed the well-cultivated sham which our socialized medicare monopoly was foisting upon us; that being put on a government waiting-list for rationed healthcare, is not actually access to healthcare.

Sounds simple, though it took some 40 years after Tommy Douglas started this grand ponzi scheme for our Supreme Court to actually rule on it. Just keep dumping more money into it is the Romanow answer, solemnly and duly seconded by the lib-left, even if it means de-listing health coverage while raising new health taxes.

Last month, a mom" [Mena Coote] "from Liberal MPP Jim Bradley’s St. Catharines gave birth to twins in the U.S. because no hospital in wealthy Ontario would accept her.

These Liberals dump over $30 billion of our tax dollars into Ontario’s “free” healthcare, yet still citizens are forced to leave the country for covered care.

How ironic for our provincial Lberals, who so enjoy sneering with disdain at “American-style” healthcare, that, when reality superseded Liberal rhetoric, it was a Buffalo hospital which had the capacity to take that mom in.

How convenient for Premier McGuinty that Ontarians already have access to OHIP-covered, private-parallel healthcare – but it’s in Buffalo, in Cleveland, in Detroit.

Whether for colon cancer, radiation, cardiac surgery, lithotripsy, or neo-natal care, OHIP’s shortcomings are met by American-style technology and capacity.

There are lessons to be learned here from this oddly-symbiotic relationship, despite the misplaced bravado of Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman, who once deputized all Ontarians to stop a U.S. diagnostics clinic from crossing the border into Canada.

Hmm… it’s okay for OHIP to send ill Canadians to the U.S., but don’t send that same American capacity to us… because that would violate the CHA!

The British, French, German, and American healthcare models all have hybrid public/private systems we need to learn from – and soon.

Canada needs the moral courage to do much better, to rise above today’s dysfunctional, non-competitive single-tier aberration we call healthcare.”
I wrote the above almost two years ago, in 2006, and healthcare has become worse in Ontario, not better. Just recently, a man from Windsor was rushed to Detroit for heart surgery, and a huge ruckus was made of the fact that his ambulance was stopped at the U.S. border for 3 minutes.

Even a local CAW official, Ken Lewenza, finally asked why are we going to the States in the first place? Of course, CAW boss, Buzz Hargrove, supported the McGuinty Liberals in the last election, and healthcare wasn't even a campaign issue.

Even yesterday, Nov. 29, 2007, when the Liberals announced their priorities for the next legislative session, healthcare wasn't at the top of the list. (and, hey, Buzz, neither was the 'manufacturing crisis').

So, maybe CAW boss Hargrove can ask his buddy McGuinty for an answer (certainly, I didn't hear any Liberal talk about this patient's ordeal), and then explain it to his local members (of which the patient shipped to Detroit was one). Tell the rest of Ontario, too.

Ontario already has medicare-free zones - they're in the States.

Sorry, Canadian freeloaders: medicare ain't free back home

I recently read a ridiculous post titled “Debunking the Myths of Canadian vs. American Healthcare” (Oct.16, 2007) on a blogsite called “Luke and Beth’s excellent adventure”, where some supposed-Canuck praises Canadian healthcare and disses the States – while living in the U.S. The post is a sad reminder of how uninformed about our health system some people are. It’s worth reading - or not. Anyway, it’s the usual diatribe against evil profit, with no mention made of the Canadians who are suffering under medicare and forced to the States for treatment. I was really impressed by this view:

I have moved to the USA because I like the people and the work that I do, how ever once I have my 10 years in and I have my USA citizenship, I will return to canada and have my children and grow old there knowing that my doctor is going to be doing the best for me and not for how much it is going to cost me or my insurance company.
In my experiences in the USA with the health system they have been positive with good doctors, nurses and others. Where the issue becomes is with the insurance companies and how my premiums have gone from $45 dollars a month in 2001 to $298.50 a month in 2007.”
How special! Does the writer think 'positive' healthcare is free?

Canadians who leave the country on 'excellent adventures' for extended periods – over which OHIP ceases to cover them – and who then decide to return, should be made to pay a “medicare-repatriation tax” before their OHIP (provincial government ) health coverage is reinstated!!

Why should they leave to earn their living elsewhere, forcing the rest of us foot the bill to carry the system... then show up 5, 10, 20 years later to have their kids or their heart operations?!

If Canadians living and working in another jurisdiction wish to return to Canada, they should pay the full cost of their health-taxes that they “missed” while away, before their “free healthcare” is reinstated. This is because medicare is NOT free - it is paid for and sustained through our various tax structures, which those who weren’t there didn’t pay for.

It’s not enough for the returning Lukes and the Beths just to say, ‘well, I was away from Canada all these years, I wasn’t a burden to the system, so why should I pay?’

But: that could equally be said for those of us who never left Canada in the first place: ‘Hey, I didn’t use the health system either over the past 5, 10, 20 years either, so why was I forced to pay all this time?’ And, now, you greedy Lukes and Beths think you can just waltz back into Canada and demand "free healthcare" be given to you - health care for which you never helped pay?!'These greedy Canucks who leave and then return expect the system they never paid for to suddenly look after them the moment their glorious prodigal asses arrive back at the Canadian border. Well, they should be held accountable, even though they were away.

Canucks returning to Ontario should pay (...perhaps ‘reimburse’, or ‘top-up’ better conveys the idea, making it more palatable to their entitled, left wing sensibilities...) the McGuinty health-taxes that they have missed since 2004, just as if they had lived in Ontario all along.

Of course, to be fair, the medicare-repatriation tax will be based on the official government income tax forms from the jurisdiction(s) where the returnees lived. Returnees would be required to present these for verification. They would then be required to pay to the federal, and to the provincial, and possibly to the municipal levels of government, based on their earned income elsewhere, an appropriate health tax in lieu of the income taxes that were never paid in Canada.

So: you left Canada to earn a good living for ten years?
When you return, you owe ten years worth of accumulated health-taxes!!
Why? Because medicare ain’t free.
Of course, expats know, don’t they (?!) that McGuinty’s health tax is separate from other levied taxes. That’s why their income slips from wherever they lived would be used to levy not only the Canadian federal tax, but also their provincial health tax as well - so they can reimburse Ontario's health system for all the time they were away. This is because: medicare ain’t free.

Not only that, they should also have to also pay the employer’s portion of the health payroll tax, based on their reported earnings, just as an employer would have been forced to do, had they been working in Ontario all these years (or been self-employed). The reason: healthcare ain’t free.
By leaving Ontario when they were young and healthy, these Lukes and Beths deprived Ontario’s health system of monies which otherwise it would have received. These Luke and Beth clowns then return back to Ontario for their entitled "free healthcare" when they're old, and start burdening the system which they had never helped support.

As for the argument that ‘I left because Ontario could not have provided me with as good a living as I had in the U.S., so why should I have to pay even for the employers portion of what would have been paid had I stayed in Ontario?’ - well, so what? Because you left, the monies which everyone else paid for all those years, nevertheless was NOT PAID by you!!!
You deprived the very system which you, upon returning years later, suddenly want to take advantage of, and want to derive benefits from - while those who remained in Canada paid all the costs.
So to be fair - you must, upon your return to Canada,  have to contribute now in lieu of not having contributed then.
Maybe you'll then realize that medicare is not free.

And no, the premiums which you might have paid in the U.S., for example, can’t be used towards reducing your medicare-repatriation tax here in Canada!
Your premiums, which you paid for yourself in the States had nothing to do with Canadian healthcare, where you now have to pay for everyone else. { see how that 'socialism' thing works, Luke and Beth...?!}
If you want to leave the American system which you so despise (...but had no problem earning your living in...) and return to Canada's socialist system which you like so much (...but didn’t pay for...) you'll have to play catch-up by paying your healthcare repatriation tax for the all the time you were away.

Oh, yes, of course, the considerable costs to administer all this paperwork on your behalf to ensure you pay your fair share, will also be paid by you; the reason: medicare isn’t free.
And, of course, for all the years you were away, you will also owe accrued interest on your overdue healthcare repatriation tax – because medicare is not free.

You think you can opt-out of being forced to pay for that supposedly-wonderful health care system to which you just returned, but we, who have lived here, can’t?

You want to return to Canada to grow old here - and not think about costs?!
You should pay through the nose for the opportunity to wait for for no-choice, government-run healthcare just like the rest of us.

And the first thing you should do is pay your overdue health taxes for all the time you were away.

Sorry, freeloaders: medicare ain’t free.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Night owls at the all-night Diner

(click photo to enlarge)
It's so late at night that it's almost morning; the wind blows cold as my icy boots crunch on the sleet-covered pavement.
The warm glow of the Diner beckons.
So we sit, stirring our hot coffee, scanning yesterday's stained newspapers in silence, while fragments of time vanish; we wonder why we are here now; as each one comes and goes, each of us must wonder, 'are they here for the same reason as me'?
I remember Edward Hopper's Nighthawks in Chicago, while Tom Waits' raspy lyrics flow from a dented Seeburg whose cracked glass front is held together with tape. Oddly, it is a track from Rain Dogs. I half-expect Julius Knipl himself might wander through the red doors, protecting his Leica from the damp with a plastic bread bag.
Now I'm here myself, waiting.

Buzz off, Dion

This Liberal propaganda (click picture to enlarge) was mailed to me at the end of Oct. 2007.

[Why is this "a message from" 'there are crosses burning in Prince George' Hedy Fry? What's she got to do with Niagara? ]

So Stephane Bumbledore Dion’s priority is now the 'manufacturing crisis'. That's what... just after his priority of the 'environment crisis'... but before his priority of the 'poverty crisis'?

And Buzz Hargrove, as usual, decants his usual doom and gloom about job losses, as he’s always done, even when other federal and provincial governments were in power.

But now Buzz has become a Dion Liberal spokesman, and this crap is being mailed to Canadians in a House of Commons envelope marked with Canada’s coat of arms. How vile. What a waste of money.

Dion’s promised “concrete steps” will lead nowhere, just like his "real leadership"! His hollow promise of "Taking real action", is more like "Talking real action".

Dion's Liberal promises promise only to crumble, flake and spall, especially when he’s allied to unionists like Hargrove.

Hargrove’s figures of job losses are always in flux, and only more government intervention is seemingly the solution to his problems.

Here’s what the St. Catharines Standard reported, Nov.28, 2007: “The federal government has shot back at the Ontario and Quebec premiers for suggesting Ottawa has not done "its part" in coming to the aid of beleaguered manufacturers, suggesting their high provincial corporate taxes are partly to blame.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday that remarks from Ontario and Quebec premiers Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest suggest the two provincial leaders had not been briefed on what Ottawa has already done to help business, especially the troubled manufacturing sector. And both Flaherty and Industry Minister Jim Prentice accused the two largest provinces of maintaining a tax regime that discourages investment in their provinces and penalizes the industries they say they want to help.

"Both Ontario and Quebec are two of the jurisdictions that still have capital taxes that are punitive, and they are punitive toward investment decisions that we need corporations to make to create jobs," said Prentice.

Flaherty said another punitive tax is Ontario's retail sales tax, which adds to manufacturers' production costs and makes them less competitive, saying the federal government has been trying to convince the province of the benefits of harmonization with the GST. Appearing somewhat perturbed by the provincial accusations, Flaherty recited a list of tax measures and incentives he has already enacted or announced, including elimination of the capital tax, the two year writeoff on new equipment for manufacturers, and scheduling corporate tax reductions that will cut the rate to 15 per cent by 2012.”

Here’s Hargrove and Chris Buckle writing in “Cause of crisis in auto sector runs deep”, (Toronto Star, Sept.3, 2007):

“In total, the Canadian auto assembly and parts sectors have lost a combined 23,000 jobs in the last few years - most of them long before anyone heard of the U.S. housing crisis. And remember Every direct job in a major auto plant like Oshawa supports 7.5 jobs in total in the national economy - everything from parts makers to doughnut shops.

The root cause of Canada's auto woes runs much deeper than shorter-run economic swings south of the border. Rather, the industry faces deeper, structural challenges, largely due to irresponsible government neglect of a sector that is so important to our economic and social well-being.

For years we have called on Ottawa to address the crucial problems facing the industry a one-way flood of offshore imports, with no chance to export back to those markets; a destructively high dollar; a need to attract new investment, including in environmentally advanced vehicles.
But these days we are being met with blank faces.”

“For years” they’ve been calling? For a dozen years it was Liberals running the show…suddenly in a year and a half, Dion’s Liberals, who Hargrove campaigns for , are suddenly absolved from his allegations? Like, Dion wasn't there along with the Chretien and Martin Grits?

And talk about "blank faces"…here’s a Feb. 17, 2007 post from : “A dog named Kyoto”:

“CAW chief Buzz Hargrove was a guest on Adler On Line on February 14th:

Adler: Buzz, I've only got about 20 seconds here. Give me your best 20 seconds on the Clean Air Act and how that affects jobs.
Hargrove: Well we're really worried. I appeared before a Parliamentary Committe and told them if we introduce the standards that California says they're introducing in 2009, because of the production system that we have with large vehicles and large engines in Canada, that could be the death knell to our industry.
Adler: Anyone paying attention to you, or are you whistling past the graveyard?
Hargrove: I got a pretty good hearing from John Baird. I think he understands it, uh, I got a lesser ear from Stephane Dion, he was pretty tough on the environmental...
Adler: So the guys you voted for last year, last time are kind of letting you down now? 2 seconds. Hargrove: 2 seconds? That would be accurate, that would be quite accurate at this point.
Adler: Buzz Hargrove, thanks.”

We have to wonder why Hargrove is now being used as a Liberal advertising tool, when his buddy Kyodiot Dion shot down Hargrove’s pleas to go easy on the auto sector with emission controls.

Here’s an earlier post from “Right In Niagara”, “Liberal Jim Bradley and The Mystery Of The Secret Kyoto Files”:

“In 2002, the Canadian Auto Workers unanimously called for Chretien to ratify Kyoto, while their leader, Buzz (Basil) Hargrove said: "Kyoto will clearly be good for the economy, not bad", and: "the C.A.W. rejects the false choice that has been set up by the corporate lobbyists, between protecting our jobs and protecting the environment." (Canadian Newswire, Dec.9, 2002)

Fast forward to 2007: suddenly Buzz, who once said "We are supportive of Kyoto. It's good for the country" (National Post, Feb.26, 2005) is all-abuzz with the realization that the "insanity" of the environmental movement is now the biggest threat to Canadian automotive jobs. (National Post, Apr.14, 2007)

D'oh, Homer! What was Hargrove thinking in 2002, when he bought that old 1997 Kyoto Protocol clunker from snake-oil salesman Chretien at the Liberal dealership?

Though he claims he's against offshore imports, Buzz eagerly bought this Liberal lemon. Now that the test-drive has become bumpy, and that heady new-policy-smell is gone (along with the jobs Ernie Eves warned about), what does Hargrove want, a recall?

When Hargrove says "I've got a message for the politicians: stop playing politics with the environment," (National Post, April 14, 2007) he should ask himself why he campaigns for the Liberal politicians who did nothing but play games with the the environment. By Jun.7, 2007 Hargrove was openly campaigning for his clean air hypocrite buddy McGuinty.

Hargrove strangely claimed he still supports Kyoto only if industries are allowed flexible timetables for compliance, but then, that's not really 'Kyoto' at all, is it? It becomes more of a, well, made-in-Canada solution; not at all like the hard-core-Kyoto dogma now peddled byLiberals, Greens, and the NDP, but more like what Conservatives have been emphasizing all along.

Recently, even Liberal leader Dion dismissed Hargrove's plea to extend the period for tightening auto-emission regulations as "not acceptable." (Toronto Star, Feb.17, 2007)

Yet bizarrely, Hargrove targets Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Kyoto, while wooing and waving hands with enviro-poseur-extraordinaire, "clean-air" McGuinty.

Hargrove, who also played huggy-bear with former Liberal leader Paul Martin, has now had some kind of epiphany: he says that honouring our Kyoto commitments would be "suicidal for our'd almost have to shut down every major industry in the country." (Windsor Star, Feb. 24, 2007)


Hargrove says: "We stand to lose 150,000 jobs in our autoindustry if the insanity of this environmental movement is allowed to continue." (St. Catharines Standard, Apr.14, 2007)

WHAT? 150,000 jobs lost to Kyoto?

Tell that to St. Catharines Liberal Jim Bradley.

Where on earth was Hargrove when Conservatives were correctly warning of the same consequences years earlier? Under his leadership, the C.A.W. lobbied for Kyoto, instead of asking 'no-plan' Chretien for answers.

Who's really the one "playing politics" and making "false choices"? Hargrove, once green himself, now views better emission-standards as a threat, as does "clean-air" McGuinty. Kyoto was "good for the country" then - now Hargrove is suddenly worried about a link between Kyoto and job losses!

Maybe Hargrove should heed the words of his buddy Paul Martin, who said " such a thing as a global conscience and now is the time to listen to it." (Montreal Gazette, Dec.10, 2005). Hargrove made his bed...and was hoisted on his own petard. He abandoned/was kicked out of the NDP, scorned the Conservatives, and was conned by the Liberal's Kyoto charade...maybe his membership will finally wise up and trade him in."

To that effect, here’s a letter by Thomas MacKay “Labour should support NDP, not federal Liberals”, (Windsor Star, Dec.15, 2005):

“This letter is in response to the Dec. 10 guest column by Ken Lewenza, in which he tries to explain the CAW's endorsement of the federal Liberals. He tells New Democrats like myself, who are disappointed that the CAW is supporting the federal Liberals, that we need to "get real."

Labour should support NDP candidates because NDP MPs stand up for all working people and Canadian jobs. Buzz Hargrove stated that he has had more consultations with the Paul Martin government than either the previous Liberal or Conservative administrations. Meanwhile, under this same Martin government, we have lost 129,000 manufacturing jobs in the last year. Martin has failed to protect our auto sector jobs and has no plan to try to reverse the failed Liberal trade policies that resulted in the loss of thousands of CAW jobs in the last year in this province alone.

If Hargrove extensively consulted the prime minister, what effect has it had? What results have come with these meetings?

Our city, our province and our country need an auto strategy now.

Only Jack Layton and the NDP have a plan to protect auto sector jobs and open markets for Canadian products. Only Layton and the NDP are calling for investment in job-rich industries like the auto sector to help manufacturers adapt to rising costs.

Mr. Lewenza, if you think the CAW's Liberal endorsement is going to do anything to create one single auto sector job, you need to get real.”

Hargrove, after supporting Liberal Martin federally in the 2006 election, went on to support Liberal McGuinty in the 2007 Ontario provincial election.

Here’s a letter from Jeff Gardiner, “Hargrove’s politics will hurt manufacturing” (Windsor Star, Sept.4, 2007):

“Last week, I saw Buzz Hargrove on television bemoaning the loss of manufacturing jobs. The main reason he highlighted was the unfair advantage that countries like China had. I wonder what he thinks is going to happen if the federal Liberals get back into power?

They insist on following Kyoto to the exact letter of the agreement, despite the fact that it will severely impact our economy. The worst to be hit will be the manufacturing sector. As companies are faced with multimillion-dollar expenses, taxes and rising energy costs, non-Kyoto countries like China, India and the U.S.A. will seem like more appealing places to do business.

That being the case, maybe Mr. Hargrove could enlighten us as to why he is advising his autoworkers to back the federal Liberal.”

So: "Hargrove's politics will hurt manufacturing"... as will Dion's.

For some odd reason, that ringing endorsement of senator Hargrove didn't appear on the above brochure sent out by Dion.

These two clowns deserve each other. Which one's Frick, and which is Frack?
In Nov. 2009, Buzz Hargrove got an Order of Canada. What a flicking joke.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our healthcare system needs to offer more choices

This from R. Bobak (St. Catharines Standard, Jan.30, 2007):

"Re: "Health care needs to be more user-friendly", The Standard, Jan. 5.

It is fascinating that former NDP deputy health minister (and medical-school enrolment cutter) Michael Decter is still peddling his meddling health-care advice. Is the "difference between getting faster care or not" really linked to patient ignorance in navigating our health-care system? And here I thought the problem was a systemic failure of our bloated, unresponsive monopoly. Nah, better to blame the patient.

On the same day as Decter's column, The Standard's front-page story read: Pressures mount for NHS: Bed shortage forces health system to postpone some elective surgeries. Ironically, in 2004 Decter told Osprey Media's James Wallace: "Demand for hospital beds is really in decline. There is not a case to build more hospital beds."

What's worrisome is Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman gushed that Decter "knows a lot about this stuff...I think it's really important that we take all of his advice." Sure, if you want our taxes to yield doctor shortages, bed shortages and scaled-down coverage! Is that the Liberals' intent? Well, The Standard's Sept. 30, 2006 story, More hospital beds not in the cards: premier reveals the Grits' ideological aim.

I wonder how Decter interprets Suzanne Aucoin's treacherous voyage on the S.S. Smitherman: will her experience be trivialized as just an obscure anomaly, or is it indicative of a system rotten at its core? Where did all the "navigation" leave her, but high and dry?

We need a system where crying out for Smitherman to save the day would not be the sole option, as it sadly is now. We need less Smitherman, more choice. We need to supplant OHIP's restrictive, protected-turf model with a multi-payer/provider model. We need to put an end to bureaucrats telling us what we can't do to pursue our healthcare needs."

Jim Bradley's criticisms in opposition foreshadowed duplicity in government

This letter by R. Bobak (St. Catharines Standard, June 29, 2007):

"Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty's nose grew a bit longer last year when he said in the legislature, "I have never been a proponent of regulating gas prices."

For years, that is exactly what his opposition Liberals advocated. St. Catharines Grit MPP Jim Bradley routinely made unsubstantiated claims about "gas gouging" and "price fixing."

For years, McGuinty and Bradley blustered that Ontario, instead of passing the buck to the federal government, had jurisdiction to regulate gas prices and cut gasoline taxes.

Yet now, Liberal Energy Minister Dwight Duncan (of gas shortage: "So what?" fame) says there's little, if anything, the province can do about gas prices!

McGuinty, who once badgered for a provincial gas price watchdog, now rejects his own proposal - and passes the buck to the federal government!

In opposition, Bradley introduced a private member's bill to regulate predatory gas pricing, but now that his governing Liberals have a majority, his bill has vanished!

In 2003, Bradley said he didn't remember gas, at 83 cents, ever being that expensive.
Has anyone remembered to ask him why it's now more expensive on his watch?

Bradley's pandering of a nebulous populism in opposition morphed upon gaining power into unprincipled hypocrisy, with promises never intended to be honoured.

Besides, how could anyone who advocated the now-kaput Kyoto protocol (as Bradley did) also really advocate for the incongruous concept of lower gas prices?

In 1997, Bradley smugly squawked about then-premier Mike Harris's plan to investigate gas prices: "He has simply made a lot of noise. He huffs and he puffs and he blusters but he has simply done nothing."

Clearly, we can now see that Bradley was actually foreshadowing a sad summary of his own Liberal duplicity. "

What Ontario healthcare crisis?

This story by John Robson, "A crisis is coming, and no one cares" (Ottawa Citizen, Oct.12, 2007):

"It is a melancholy reflection that we had to wait for the Ontario provincial election to lurch to a dismal end before we could turn to urgent questions of policy. Melancholy turns to depression at the urgency of health care reform. And tears begin to flow at the thought that the major parties' positions on that topic contrived to be at once irrelevant and profoundly inimical to any sensible solution.

The diagnosis here is grim. On Saturday the Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Simpson wrote, "The Liberals boast they have jacked up health-care spending by 29 per cent over four years, to $37- billion, a staggering eight per cent a year." Strange for a government to boast of its profligacy. Especially as, Mr. Simpson went on to note, the Liberals also promised to reduce the rate of spending increases to five per cent a year, which suggests there was something wrong with their previous behaviour. The Conservatives said they'd do the same, which suggests there was nothing wrong with the Liberals' new promise. Uh, unless you count Mr. Simpson's pointed observation that, "No Ontario government has been able to keep annual increases to five per cent."

Thus we may swiftly conclude that neither party had a plan for doing what they promised, and move on to the next problem. Namely, that if the party leaders did somehow keep their word it is not obvious what advantages would accrue. For one thing, increasing spending faster than revenue generally causes trouble, especially on an item that already devours nearly half of program spending. For another, laying aside the calculator for a stethoscope, how will a health care system that couldn't cope with existing demand while gobbling down eight per cent annual increases deal with the growing needs of aging boomers on just five per cent? Sadly we were not favoured with a discussion of such alarming matters.

Alarming is not too strong a word. Mainstream politicians generally dismiss as "ideological" those of us who saw trouble coming and urged preventive action years ago. But Mr. Simpson is hardly the excitable sort of columnist prone to the print equivalent of leaping about hollering, so you might think his observations would worry the people who run the system. Apparently they don't worry easy.

Most politicians didn't break a sweat when Health Canada warned that Canada will be short 5,800 doctors by 2010. Nor at last week's Citizen report of one Ottawa doctor who predicts that with middle- aged doctors working so hard they're burning themselves out and younger doctors working less in pursuit of a more rational work- life balance, the real shortage might be as large as 10,400. Politicians also shrugged off the Canadian Nurses' Association warning that nationally we'll be short 78,000 nurses by 2011 and 113,000 by 2016 and this week's Citizen story saying we're even short of nursing school faculty to train replacements.

People with weaker nerves would be especially bothered by the demographics that make these problems so hard to fix. Not only are the patients aging, so are doctors, nurses and even the remaining nursing school faculty; the Canadian Nurses' Association says more than half of the latter were over age 50 in 2005.

The one thing I've noticed recently that might make politicians panic is the increasing tendency, noted in Wednesday's National Post, for doctors to bill for various services not covered by socialized medicine, from telephone advice to faxing prescriptions, that most provided free before provincial governments got so tight- fisted with their fee schedules. Apparently, the harder the government throttles the goose that lays the golden eggs, the harder the wretched bird fights for air. But our statesmen's fingers are as strong as their minds are weak.

I do not exaggerate either the seriousness of the crisis or the feebleness of their understanding. From time to time I may inflict upon readers obscure quotations or arcane research. But you'll notice that all the examples in this column are from very recent newspaper stories. You don't have to be smart to uncover this stuff. But you have to be singularly dim to ignore it. And politicians are.

Faced with such atrocious mismanagement of such a key policy issue, I occasionally fantasize about entrusting affairs of state to persons selected by citizens in a competitive process designed to oblige candidates for public office to offer detailed, practical, intelligent solutions on matters of particular import.

Wait a minute. We just did that. * Sob * Could someone please pass me a large, absorbent handkerchief?"


Check out my blog essay "Liberal Healthcare Duplicity, An Ontario Overview 2003-2007 " for "obscure" healthcare-politics-related references and stories! Does anyone care?

It is extremely sad that the Oct. 2007 Ontario election took place in a virtual vaccuum of healthcare debate. Well-flamed educational bigotry won -the electorate could have cared less about the Liberal's "atrocious mismanagement" of healthcare. Health minister Smitherman got a free pass to continue his ideological, failing, no-choice, single-payer healthcare monopoly's demagoguery.

We will all suffer for it.

Will Liberal Transport Minister Jim Bradley open new 'sicko' lanes at U.S. border to ease Canadian healthcare exodus?

Dear Mr. Bradley,

This letter is in regards to the recently reported (Windsor Star, Nov.21, 2007) incident in Windsor, Ontario, where heart attack patient Rick Laporte was sent by your Liberal, provincially-run healthcare monopoly to the United States for emergency surgery.

The ambulance transporting this patient reportedly was held up for 3 minutes at the U.S. border.

Do you as Ontario’s Minister of Transportation find this delay at the border, of an Ontario medical patient, to be unacceptable?

Do you have any comments on this incident? Will you be taking any action to prevent future similar recurrences? Will you designate a special healthcare-only lane for Canadians waiting at the border similar to Nexus, perhaps calling it the ‘sicko’ lane?

Do you find it completely unacceptable that an Ontarian had to suffer and be placed at possible risk because of the fact that this patient had no other choice offered by your medicare monopoly but to be forced to the U.S. for treatment?

Are the U.S. border services now responsible for expediting the waiting-lists of your Liberal government’s failed healthcare policies? Was this the intended "future" you envisioned for Ontario patients as a consequence of your authoritarian 2004 "Committment To The Future Of Medicare" act ?

Do you concede that your government policies are solely to blame for such instances of Ontario patients being shuffled off to Buffalo and beyond because your Liberal single-payer, so-called ‘universal’ healthcare ideology cannot deliver promised, timely medical services at home?

Why is your Liberal government’s disturbing new growth industry consist of exporting ill Ontario patients to the States for treatment?

Why is your Liberal government essentially practicing rendition by forcing ill Ontarians to obtain healthcare treatment in a system which would be illegal, and would be outlawed by your Liberal government, if it were in Ontario?

Ontario’s Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty proudly campaigned that he stood against the Americanization of our health system! (Globe and Mail, Sept.26, 2003)

Mr. Bradley, you supported Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman’s ridiculous campaign to defend the Canadian border from evil American diagnostic providers, like Cleveland’s Life Line Screening (St. Catharines Standard, Sept.24, 2004). You supported this health minister’s demagogic rant when he wanted to “deputize” 12 million Ontarians to help “stamp” out the invading Americans; when he hysterically boasted: "I'll meet them at the border or confront them where they are".

But was Smitherman there to help Laporte across the border to access American healthcare? Life Line Screening had proposed to provide portable ultrasound screening clinics to detect vascular problems which could lead to coronary problems…something that Laporte might have benefited from, had not Liberals such as yourself and George Smitherman personally made sure it was not offered, for political reasons, to the citizens of Ontario.

In opposition, in lock-step with your leader McGuinty (St. Catharines Standard, Apr.21, 2001), you sneered that possible reforms to our healthcare status-quo would lead us to the dreaded boogeyman of a two-tier, U.S.-style healthcare system…in other words, the kind of system that you send ill Ontarians to now.

I would like to thank Americans for their assistance offered to all Canadians who have sought and received care in the States. I apologize for boorish Canadian left-wing politicians who chauvinistically disparage the American system which helps us so often.

Mr. Bradley, have you publicly thanked the Americans for their support and assistance in providing care to Ontario patients, who were forced by your Liberals to leave the country for treatment?

Do you not consider it odd, or plainly hypocritical, for your Liberals to demonize the same American system which acts as the safety-valve for your ideological health system’s failures? It’s politically convenient to have the American capacity available next door to cover universal medicare’s systemic failures, isn’t it?

Do you share the rationalization that sending ill Ontarians to the States for treatment is testimony that ‘medicare works’? Is it an underlying policy of your Liberal government to rely upon the American healthcare system to ameliorate universal medicare’s shortcomings? Does your sorely-mismanaged idea of medicare now consist of simply paying whatever it costs to send patients wherever it takes to obtain the same healthcare which your Liberals have deemed to be illegal, and therefore outlawed, here at home?

Does your Liberal government keep any statistics detailing how many Ontarians have been forced to the States to obtain treatment which is unavailable here, due to the inequities of your medicare monopoly? Or, does your Liberal government simply deem such incidents to be merely anecdotal anomalies; minor, expected but irrelevant blow-back, in your grand scheme that is ‘Medicare’?

Columnist Terence Corcoran’s story, “Bordering on the ridiculous” (National Post, Nov.24, 2007) notes that “over a year, an average 150 ambulances loaded with Canadians in need of treatment are shipped from Windsor to Detroit. It’s routine.”

Can your government, Mr. Bradley, confirm or dispute the claim that in Windsor alone an average of three patients a week are being exported by your health monopoly to the States for treatment? Is this an acceptable routine for your Liberal government?

What is the cost of this Liberal treatment-by-export health-care rendition policy, not only to the province (which McGuinty admits already spends 50% of its entire budget on healthcare), but also to Ontario patients in terms of potential peril, suffering and inconvenience?

Why should patients suffer by having to wait at the U.S.border for medical treatment, Mr. Bradley? Why should we be waiting in Ontario at all - with no options available to us - in the first place?

Forget the existential aspects in Waiting for Godot; Waiting for Smitherman is truly our healthcare horror nightmare.

Mr. Bradley, is it not your Liberal, statist, single-payer health ideology that caused patient Laporte, and many others, to be in ambulances speeding through the Detroit tunnel, away from Canada, to the States for healthcare?

How many other ill Ontarians are also leaving Ontario at other border crossings, such as in Niagara?

"One is always very cautious about a company coming into Ontario and preying on the vulnerable," you said with the utmost paternalism in the St. Catharines Standard regarding Life Line. "The government is moving to stop this."

Yet, you and your government have no problem sending our sick and vulnerable to the States for treatment that you proudly cannot provide to your own citizens?

Why is your government not “moving to stop” your own Liberal Healthcare Duplicity?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Doctor shortages and Jim Bradley: Then & Now

This story “More positions needed in medical schools says MPP”, (Welland Tribune, Dec.9, 2000):

“Niagara's doctor shortage could be cured if the provincial government added more medical school positions and provided incentives for physicians to relocate to Niagara.
Calling the physician shortage critical, St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley urged the government to graduate more physicians, surgeons and family doctors from its medical schools.
Earlier this year the government increased the number of medical school places, but Bradley says even more need to be created.
"At least once a week I get a call at my constituency office from someone whose doctor is retiring or who is new to the area and can't find a doctor," he says.
The need is pressing, Bradley says, since Niagara has the highest per capita rate of citizens over the age of 55. It is doubly pressing since many doctors are also aging.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that as many as two-thirds of ophthalmologists in the province are 55 or older.
He also wants the government to publicize information such as the average age physicians, specialists and surgeons and the expected number that will be needed in the near future.
"I think it's important to keep reminding the government of this problem." ”

Seven years later, here’s Niagara This Week’s story, "Province has not determined number of docs needed” (Nov.23, 2007) stating that: “Ontario is spending less money and allocating fewer resources than it may seem on programs targeted directly to help find family doctors…Despite assurances by the government that systems are in place to come to grips with the shortage, it admits it doesn’t know yet how many general practitioners will be needed province wide.”

Say what?

Jim Bradley in opposition lectured and urged others to do all kinds of things his own Liberals haven’t done!!

Is it important to keep reminding Jim Bradley of his own advice?

After four years in office, Bradley’s Liberals have no idea themselves how many doctors are needed in Ontario!?

Doesn’t Bradley get calls today, in 2007, like he said he received in 2000, from people who can’t find doctors? Or, have those calls magically vanished now that his Liberals are in power? All is well, right?

‘Needs are pressing’ said Bradley then; 'incentives should be provided’ Bradley said then; 'shortages are critical' Bradley said then; 'information should be publicized', Bradley said then.

But now…?

Smitherman's skewed, shortage-plagued Liberal health system

This letter by R. Bobak "Local councils shouldn't haggle with doctors", (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.29, 2006):

"Re: Doctor claims offer reneged, The Standard, Dec. 20.

That a family doctor should even have to grovel before some local politicians for "cash incentives" to set up shop shows how skewed and dysfunctional Tommy Douglas' fabled socialist health-care monopoly has become.

Why should any municipality have the right to pilfer doctors from some other municipality by subsidizing them with taxpayers' cash (in itself, a zero-sum game), when it is illegal for a private individual in Ontario to pay a doctor?

Any professional in a free marketplace should be able to operate in an area of their choice, where they believe there is a demand for their services and where they could earn their living.
But in our authoritarian liberal health-care system, skewed by salary caps and central planning, compounded within a non-competitive monopoly, health professionals are being relegated to some kind of salaried civil-servant status.

It's not a local council's mandate to haggle with doctors because of the systemic failure of Health Minister George Smitherman's dogmatic Liberal policies.

Though an Ottawa newspaper earlier this year recommended that Smitherman be fired, for any positive, meaningful health-care reform to occur, the entire Dalton McGuinty crew would need to be exorcised from office."

Time for Ontario towns to declare themselves a medicare-free zone!

Niagara This Week’s series of healthcare stories, “Is there a doctor in the house?”, (Nov.23, 2007) was refreshingly detailed, varied, and surprisingly candid.

We should be asking tough questions about the nature of socialized healthcare and the results it has brought after some forty years of imposition.

It’s unfortunate this story didn't appear prior to the Oct. 2007 Ontario election, because healthcare is a provincial responsibility, and this election sadly took place in a virtual vacuum of healthcare debate.

St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley barely said anything about healthcare: all was good. Any problems were typically glossed over and downplayed. He’s building us a hospital, you see, soon…well, eventually…so we should be grateful to Bradley and his Liberals for their great effort to do this favour on our behalf!

Healthcare was always ‘in crisis’ when Bradley’s Liberals were in opposition, you see. Now, as far as Grits would have us believe, all is well.

NTW wrote “The OMA estimates Ontario needs at least 1,000 family doctors now”.
However, I’ve read reports (National Post, Nov.15, 2007) where the Ontario Medical Association’s Janice Willett says Ontario is short 2,000 GP’s and specialists. The Liberals aren't close to delivering either number.

Gord Bowes column “Faith-based funding should be all or nothing” was equally refreshing: this is a writer who should appear more often. McGuinty and his Liberals were nothing less than “smarmy” in how they hypocritically flamed the faith-based-funding issue, pandering to an embarrassing latent bigotry in the populace. Yet, about 1.2 million Ontarians (which is almost 10% of our population) don’t have a family doctor, and this wasn’t even an election issue!

Mike Williscraft’s comments in “Doctor shortage needs more attention”, regarding physicians and “priority” waiting lists are also timely and worth further debate.

Why are local councils subsidizing health care in the first place - it’s a provincial responsibility. Our medicare myth has for too long promulgated the illusion that there are no priorities or preferences, let alone waiting-lists, in socialized healthcare. Many of us cling to the perception that socialized medicare delivered by a single-payer government monopoly, in and of itself, can’t be the source of our current problems.

It is an insidious argument that just because a fed-up municipality foolishly puts up, for example, $50,000 to lure doctors to their jurisdiction (because the province failed to fulfil its obligations) somehow then entitles that municipality’s citizens to preferential treatment. This is specifically the kind of muddled, egalitarian argument that is bogging down our entire system.

You want socialized medicare, but then you want to claim entitlement to priority socialized medicare?! You want the doctor beholden to government lists as a servile civil servant?

Such meddling by various layers of government, constant interference, and centralist manipulation, mixed with a blind belief that just a little bit more big-government intervention will cure healthcare’s woes, is manifest all around us: it’s even emotionally ingrained to be part of our patriotic national psyche.

It would be interesting to see those municipalities who use taxpayer cash to lure doctors to their jurisdiction try something bold, something radical – to rise up in the face of Ontario’s restrictive, failing healthcare monopoly and declare their jurisdiction a government-monopoly-medicare-free zone to encourage medical practices. It could be a kind of incubator functioning in the vacuum of the province’s ineptitude to deliver on its obligations, and to alleviate the market-restrictions of its health monopoly. They’ll then see how fast Health Minister George Smitherman flies over to complain and shut them down!

Let him try.

Such a symbolic declaration by towns across Ontario would show the extent of the problem and the unnecessary discontent and suffering Smitherman's monopoly is causing.

Ontario’s Liberals are already facing a constitutional court challenge from plaintiffs Lindsay McCreith and Shona Holmes, similar to Quebec’s Chaoulli challenge, which brings into question the Liberal government’s “right” to deny patients timely medical treatment, while at the same time banning patients the option of arranging for their care themselves.

Williscraft is correct in observing that “what is being done is not enough”. It depends on whether you believe in shared market solutions or government–only solutions. What the Liberals are doing is putting Ontarians at risk in waiting lines, then exporting patients to the States for treatment that medicare is unable to provide here.

Should we continue to dump more money into Ontario's plainly-evident failure of socialized medicare? (As premier Dalton McGuinty himself said during the televised leaders' debate during the last campaign, Ontario already spends 50% of its budget on healthcare).

Or should the Ontario Liberals reform their failed Commitment To The Future of Medicare Act, before the courts do their job for them and render that authoritarian legislation obsolete?

Should we remove the federal Canada Health Act from its pedestal, and make it more accountable to actual patients, rather than function as an 'enabler' maintaining the status-quo? The CHA could be reformed so it would no longer be used as a shield to cover inept provincial health systems which operate exclusively as single-payer, single-provider monopolies.

Patients should have access to choice in buying private health insurance, and Ontario’s restrictive OHIP health marketing board should face payer and provider competition.

We should seek a healthy private-parallel health-care system.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Is it time to remove the Canada Health Act from its pedestal?

This story, "Medicare's Mr. Fix-It", is by Gloria Galloway (Globe and Mail, Dec.18, 2004):

"Twenty years ago, Bill Tholl helped to draft a law so irritating to Canada's doctors that some of them hit the bricks. Today, he's their top troubleshooter. Did he change his tune -- or did they?

A glass-encased handwritten letter occupies a prominent spot on the wall in Bill Tholl's expansive office at the Canadian Medical Association.
It's from Monique Bégin, the former Liberal health minister, thanking Mr. Tholl for his role in the creation of the Canada Health Act -- the thread that binds the country's cherished public health system.
"A most sincere 'thank you' for all your work in our Medicare legislation," Ms. Bégin writes. "As one of the three musketeers -- with Don and Dave -- you won all your fights against time, stupidity, resistance, passivity, etc., etc. Good for you! And good for all of us, for it is such a great program,"
Twenty-one years ago, Mr. Tholl and his Health Department colleagues Donald MacNaught and David Beavis were handpicked by Ms. Bégin to draft the law that today ensures all Canadians have equal access to publicly funded medical treatment.
It was also the law that ended doctors' ability to charge patients more than medicare would pay, and the law that eventually prompted Ontario doctors to close their office doors for 23 bitter days in the spring of 1986.
So what is a self-declared, public-health advocate like Bill Tholl now doing as secretary-general of the CMA -- that is, the doctors' chief advocate?
Even today, the question of support for socialized medicine periodically comes up for discussion, and "it always," Mr. Tholl says, with characteristic understatement, "engenders a very animated debate. But when it comes time to push the button, yes or no for medicare, the answer is always yes.
"And the biggest push came on April 17, 2001, when they went out and hired a guy they know is committed to medicare. Why would they hire me, if they didn't think that's really where they wanted to go?"
Outgoing and outspoken, the 51-year-old health economist hails, appropriately, from Saskatchewan, the home of Tommy Douglas and Roy Romanow. In the fall of 1983, when he got the call from Ms. Bégin, he was assistant director of her department's health-policy branch. "She brought me in as the new kid on the block," he said, as someone "who had a different policy sense."
The Canada Health Act that she envisioned was controversial from its inception.
The initial 50-50 cost-sharing agreement between the federal and provincial governments had been replaced in the mid-1970s with block funding for health care. This approach gave the provinces much greater flexibility in spending and took away Ottawa's ability to claw back funds when it disagreed with what a province was doing. But it also opened the door to accusations that health-care money was being diverted, that it was building roads instead of hospitals.
Still, Ms. Bégin -- someone possessed of "tremendous political instincts," Mr. Tholl says -- had to persuade the cabinet of Pierre Trudeau that a new law was needed. And there were some powerful opponents, including every province and the Canadian Medical Association.
"The provincial governments are saying, 'You don't need this, just give us our flexibility,' " Mr. Tholl recalls. "Meanwhile, extra-billing and user fees are starting to go up and there are more and more concerns, particularly from the Canadian Labour Congress and . . . the Canadian Health Coalition."
Ms. Bégin asked him to put together a "stoplight" chart for the cabinet that would show where all the parties stood on the various elements of the proposed act, each denoted with a red, yellow or green sticker. The top half, representing the provinces and the doctors, was awash in red. The bottom half, representing labour, nurses and health-care advocates, was green.
Mr. Trudeau took a look at the chart and said: "Now, let me understand this. The doctors are against it, all the provinces are against it, but the people of Canada want it. We're going do it," Mr. Tholl says, recounting Ms. Bégin's version of the meeting.
So the Canada Health Act was on the agenda -- and the battle lines with the nation's doctors were drawn.
One of Mr. Tholl's first tasks was to establish an appropriate penalty for provinces that allowed doctors to overbill. "We actually did a bunch of studies, and said, 'How much is it going to take to bribe provincial governments to not allow this stuff?' "
They settled on a dollar-for-dollar clawback. Some provinces, including Quebec, Alberta and Ontario, protested loudly but eventually relented and ended the extra-billing. And the medical profession was livid.
In June, 1986, Ontario doctors took to the streets. Emergency wards were closed, the public was frantic and, at one point, Liberal premier David Peterson found himself surrounded by 150 placard-waving doctors calling him a "gutless tyrant." The strike ended just over three weeks later with all sides bearing scars.
Mr. Tholl won't talk about the current dispute between the Ontario Medical Association and Queen's Park. However, he believes that the province's doctors stropped short of walking off the job this fall after rejecting the government's offer because the wounds from 1986 -- and the belief that the public has never forgiven those 23 lost days -- still linger.
Even after the doctors returned to their jobs, the CMA and the OMA pressed ahead with a court challenge against the act that they had launched a year earlier.
"I was the lead guy in developing the agreed statement of fact for the government of Canada," Mr. Tholl says. Because the act had no provisions for resolving disputes, the doctors were calling it "organized begging, not organized medicine."
Then, in July, 1988, Mr. Tholl was part of a delegation to Poland that included Dr. Léo Paul Landry, a former CMA secretary-general. "For 10 days, we rode on this bus through Poland and I kept . . . using the line, 'If you win, you lose. If you win in the court of law, you lose in the court of public opinion forever. This is stupid.'
"We got off the plane in Montreal and he said, 'You are going to come to work for me some day,' and I said, 'Never, not as long as you guys are taking the Canada Health Act to court. It's an albatross around your neck.' And so we struck up a friendship."
A short time later, Mr. Landry called to ask if he would meet the CMA executive to explain the organization's many shortcomings. Mr. Tholl revelled in the opportunity. And it wasn't long before he was formally asked to work for the doctors' association as director of health policy and economics -- and to extricate the CMA from the court challenge. He took the job.
"We signed a letter saying, 'We're sorry and we promise we'll never do it again,' and we paid an amount that was substantially less than $1.3-million," which was what the government was demanding.
In 1996, Mr. Tholl left the CMA to become executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, but he was recruited back in 2001, this time to the association's top position. The former enemy was now in charge -- a fact that Mr. Tholl said signalled something beyond mere acquiescence to the publicly funded system. The doctors, not all of them, but a clear majority, had embraced medicare.
"I think there has been a sea change in medicine's approach to things. My past was absolutely not a secret. Everybody and their dog knew who I was. Would they have hired me as secretary-general if they hadn't crossed that Rubicon?"
He and the CMA played a key role in the federal-provincial health accord reached with much fanfare in September, and will help to oversee its implementation. However, he warns, the accord falls well short of the much sought-after "fix for a generation," and the Canada Health Act still has detractors within the medical profession.
They are "those libertarians . . . who fought hard to make sure that governments never got in between them and their patients," and "really don't want to get sucked into an employer-employee relationship with government," he said.
But there is also a whole new generation of doctors raised in the post-medicare world. Younger doctors "wouldn't know what to do with a Visa machine if it were put in their office tomorrow to charge people," Mr. Tholl says. "They are not entrepreneurs; they are great clinicians."
And many have gown more fearful of the big health-management organizations (HMOs) that run medicine south of the border than they are of government control. "Doctors in Canada get a heck of a lot more clinical autonomy and flexibility than they do in the United States," Mr. Tholl said
He laments the huge southward migration of doctors during the 1990s as the federal government chopped transfer payments to the provinces. He also laments that the migration is still taking place -- a net loss of about 200 doctors a year.
But "there is a certain kind and class of physician that's been left in Canada and it's almost a kind of Darwinism," he said. Also, as the defected doctors age, many are returning to Canada to be with their families -- and to take advantage of this country's health system.
After all, as Mr. Tholl noted, it was the Canadian Medical Association that first proposed a national health-insurance program back in 1933.
That was "way, way, way before governments were even thinking about it," he said. "So, I like to think, in many respects, it's almost a return to the basic sense of the most caring of the caring professions." "

With this background to the CHA, is it surprising that six months after this story was written, Quebec's Chaoulli decision came in June of 2005? Some Canadians were wondering what took so long. The damaging consequence of state-run, single-payer monopoly medicine was successfully challenged. The promises that the CHA makes are broken in practice all the time. For years, provincial governments, through sheer inertia, were able to simply bulldoze, dismiss, bluster, and gloss over the accruing problems festering under utopian-CHA cover. We wanted to believe the snake-oil that Douglas, Tholl and Begin, Romanow, the CLC and Trudeau were selling, and for years the charade of sustainability and the perception of a government-orchestrated, yet market-receptive healthcare system were seemingly working before our very eyes. A true wonder - doctors who don't know about Visa machines, while central-planner bureaucrats bribe provinces to interfere with the healthcare market!
Nothing wrong with that "libertarian" picture at all!
Which leads us to 2007, and the healthcare mess Ontario is in now, after two decades of Thollist-style market manipulation: Ontario is now also facing its own constitutional healthcare court challenge. Individuals are only now able to fight back against the no-patient-choice medicare menace which ostensibly was supposed to help them, but is now working against patients, and almost killing them.
The collective must answer to the individual. Or, do we believe that the individual must submit to the collective?
I believe the Canada Health Act must be reformed to preclude it from being utilized as a cover, an enabler, an apologist, for authoritarian collectivized health-care.
It's utter stupidity to passively maintain this Liberal charade.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Can Jim Bradley explain why he "stood up and said 'I hate doctors'"?

The following story by Michael Valpy (Globe and Mail, Jan. 5, 1991) gives an interesting overview of the tenuous relationship between doctors and the Liberal bullies of the David Peterson Ontario government. It’s hard to believe that a cocky Liberal like St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley, as outlined in this story, would say that he hates doctors. Why would he say that? Does Liberal Jim Bradley still hate doctors? Even today, in 2007, Bradley’s Liberals are still forcing patients to the States for treatment that Bradley’s healthcare monopoly fails to deliver at home: maybe Bradley hates patients too? Maybe if Bradley and his Liberals had actually listened to doctors, not attacked them in the 1980’s, then our present healthcare shortages may have been averted.

It was certainly the height of gauche hypocrisy for Bradley to have spoken at the memorial service of Suzanne Aucoin (St. Catharines Standard, Nov.17, 2007) when he said "She spotted deficiencies in the health-care system and brought them to everyone's attention." The utter smarminess of this Liberal! Jim Bradley, over his 30 years in office, had a lot to with these "deficiencies" in the first place.

He's a proud supporter of the very system whose deficiencies let Aucoin down, that denied her funding, that forced her to the States for treatment - because it was unavailable in Jim Bradley's single-payer, no-choice monopoly system! Aucoin got her treatment where it was available - in the States, whose system Liberals like Jim Bradley love to deride, and where Jim Bradley's Liberals still force patients to because they can't receive care here in Ontario. How convenient to preach the merits of Ontario medicare while utilizing the American system to cover Ontario's systemic inadequacies.

Many Ontarians have suffered due to Jim Bradley's Liberal handiwork. Valpy's story is an account about how the Liberals cavalierly treated the medical profession in the 80's.
We have to wonder ... how much different are they now? I say they're still the same, they've more subtly ingratiated themselves into a position where they appear as outsiders to the problems which they set in motion years earlier.


“HEALING THYSELF , Physicians want government to discuss a concept called utilization management. It may help contain health-care costs - and get doctors out of the doghouse Ontario MDs seek to mend rupture with province.

By Michael Valpy
In September, when Ontario's new government surprised everyone including itself by getting elected, there was immediate speculation about who would be named attorney-general. The wisdom emanating from the designated experts on the election-night television panels was that it must be someone who could deal with the Law Society of Upper Canada, who could work with the legal profession and have the respect of the bar. It also should be noted that a substantial number of those invited by TV stations to sit on these expert panels were lawyers.

Not doctors.

No doctors were to be seen offering political analyses to the public or speculating on the identity of the next health minister - this in a province where $13.9-billion, a third of Ontario's budget, is expended on health care (compared to $950-million for the combined ministries of the attorney-general and solicitor-general).

No doctors, at a time when health care, one of the few remaining national assets universally valued by Canadians, is deemed to be in crisis.

And no concerns raised by the TV pundits about whether Ontario's titularly socialist government would appoint a health minister who could work with the doctors. No one cared.

This makes a statement about the comparative political weight doctors and lawyers wield in Canada. It also is evidence that the doctors and the Ontario Medical Association are still, to put it mildly, in the doghouse.

A search through two years' of newspaper files turns up a surprising number of plaintive pleas from the OMA to be allowed to "work with government," to be accepted as being "onside with government" in trying to control health-care costs and more effectively manage the system. All these entreaties appear to have fallen on deaf ears - both political and news media.

Ontario's doctors have been out in the cold politically since their disastrous 26-day strike in 1986 in protest against the then-Liberal government's Health Care Accessibility Act, which banned extra-billing. Their strike had no public support. After its collapse, a number of doctors further fouled the profession's nest by continuing to bill in excess of government-approved fees in defiance of the law. The OMA, in addition, initiated a constitutional challenge both to the Ontario legislation and to the Canada Health Act.

The doctors failed to recognize the fundamental political axiom that, if no one with influence supports your cause, government has carte blanche to do terrible things to you - and end up looking good in the process. The doctors believed their strike to be about professional freedom; the public thought it was about greed.

Recently, in interviews, Dr. Ted Boadway, the OMA's director of health policy, and Dr. David Peachy, the OMA's director of professional affairs, talked about the previous Ontario government's scorched earth policy on the OMA and the medical profession. The Liberals, they said, assumed a "messianic mania" to "save" medicare from the doctors.

"It was (former Liberal health minister) Murray Elston's policy to take no prisoners," said Dr. Boadway. "If he could have exterminated us, he would have. Jim Bradley (the former environment minister) stood up and said: 'I hate doctors.' The Liberals acquired a perverse delight in attacking us." [passage red-bolded by me for emphasis]

Said Dr. Peachy: "There never was a relationship with Elinor Caplan (the last Liberal health minister). She was unrelateable to. Her ministry was the least consultative I've ever seen. Amendments to regulations we'd learn about the day before (they were promulgated), sometimes the day after."

The fallout from the strike and the Ontario government's retribution has been devastating to the profession, the OMA officials said. Surveys of doctors have shown they feel rejected by their communities and in turn have rejected their communities.

Last April, the OMA abandoned its legal challenges. "The times have changed and we have changed," said OMA president Dr. Carole Guzman. "This system of medicare is what the public wants . . . and we are willing to work with that system."

But no peace doves were released at Queen's Park. Requests from the OMA to meet with the government continued to engender no response. "We've told the government: 'We're onside, we'll work with you.' But the government has never called," said Dr. Boadway.
And, so far, neither has Ontario's now-ruling New Democrats.

In mid-December, however, after some frantic messages sent to Queen's Park indicating the OMA's enthusiasm for a meeting, the association did receive a letter from Frances Lankin, chairwoman of Cabinet's management board, suggesting everyone should get together in the new year.

"There is a lot of anxiety about the first contact and we want to start out on the right foot," said Dr. Boadway. "We don't know what conventional view they may have of the ugly OMA or whether they're still worried about being slam-dunked by us."

The OMA has a number of reasons for being eager to reopen communications.

It wants to strengthen its credibility with Ontario's 24,000 doctors. The OMA has image problems trying to appear as the tough and powerful vehicle of the medical profession. It does not compare well to, say, the Law Society of Upper Canada.

It wants to get negotiations going with government toward a new fee schedule. It wants the government to deliver on Premier Bob Rae's unofficial promise to give the doctors the instrument of binding arbitration to resolve fee disputes.

The association also believes it has an important message to bring to the New Democrats - a message that it can get the medical profession behind major economies in the cost of health care: "Everyone has been looking for a new platform and we think we've found it," he said. The platform is utilization management - what Dr. Boadway describes as "clinical guidelines without the cookbook approach, leading to better care . . . and showing you can be efficient and also save money".

It is not a strikingly new idea. But until now it has been on the periphery of the debate over costs. The OMA wants to bring it to centre stage.

Essentially, its thesis is that the costs of new technology and new treatment procedures are grossly under-assessed before they are introduced into hospitals and doctors' offices. And it is these new technologies and procedures that have become major items driving health- care costs. This is held to be true about health care in Canada as well as elsewhere in the industrialized world. Most of the fat in these systems has been squeezed out, Dr. Boadway said, yet costs continue to rise - and they all seem to be rising on the same slope.

Utilization management is an attempt to assess whether a proposed new procedure or piece of equipment is really better than what it is replacing - almost always at far greater cost.

Prof. Adam Linton of the University of Western Ontario's medical school and epidemiologist David Naylor of Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre limned the dimensions of the problem in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine. "The system in Ontario," they wrote, "has failed to stem the tide of drugs and devices of questionable usefulness. . . . The same lack of assessment and control is evident for novel or more intensive applications of established techniques or equipment.

"Furthermore, accepted practice patterns are rarely scrutinized, in part because there are no formal criteria for assessing the indications for a host of medical and surgical tests and procedures. . . ."

The two doctors also point out that these new technologies are marketed aggressively by manufacturers - and often by medical specialists - as life-saving devices and treatments, leaving hospitals and the provincial ministry of health obviously reluctant not to find the money somewhere to pay for them.

Hospitals and doctors, indeed, have a practical reason for going along with the new technologies: they fear their insurers might reduce coverage unless they accept them.

Drs. Linton and Naylor cite one case where a diagnostic drug was introduced universally into the Ontario health-care system even though it lacked satisfactory epidemiological evaluation and despite the existence of data from Britain that said total conversion to the drug in that country might save 15 lives a year but at a cost exceeding $2-million each.

The drug, known as a low-osmolarity contrast medium (LOCM), is injected into the body for such procedures as kidney X-rays and angiography. It causes less discomfort generally to patients than traditional contrast mediums and, in some cases, could prevent death from adverse reactions to other chemicals.

Drs. Linton and Naylor argue that if Ontario had opted for selective use of the drug only for those patients known to be at high risk from other mediums, the cost to the health-care system would have been a fraction of the $35-million spent for conversion (which was about $35- million).

In an interview, Dr. Linton said probably not a month goes by without "something out there being swept into use without proper evaluation of cost and application." And while there is no adequate way of calculating how much total extra cost is being imposed on the health-care system, Dr. Linton said, the cost of new technologies is increasing astronomically.

The development of sound clinical guidelines on what should or should not be accepted into the health-care system is a thorny issue. The OMA and Dr. Linton (one of the association's most active members) believes that doctors will support utilization management only if the guidelines are flexible, supportable and related to quality of care - which is what Dr. Boadway means when he says guidelines "without the cookbook approach".

Dr. Linton suggested three categories. Where the evaluation of a technology is supported by hard science, then a usage-standard can be set. Where the science is reasonably good, then a guideline - with some flexibility - can be written. Where the science is very soft, then options, or "optimal practice patterns", can be drawn up.

The OMA believes the best chance of selling guidelines to the profession is if the OMA draws them up itself along the lines suggested by Dr. Linton. Any attempt to impose guidelines on doctors from outside will be branded a totally intolerable intrusion into professionalism.

The first step is getting government to listen to what they have to say."
(Globe and Mail, Jan.5, 1991)

And Jim Bradley today, in 2007, has the audacity to talk about "deficiencies', as if he had no role whatsoever in creating them. Un-flicking-real.

Canadian patient's dilemma: wait 3 min. at U.S. border, or die in Canada?

This story by Doug Williamson from the National Post (Nov.21, 2007),"Patient irked by border delay":

"Nurses 'Stunned'
WINDSOR - Canadian Rick Laporte is used to being pulled over by U.S. customs when he goes to Detroit.
But he wasn't expecting the same treatment as he lay in the back of a Windsor ambulance that was taking him to Henry Ford hospital after suffering a major heart attack.
When he discovered he had been stopped for three precious minutes at the U.S. border, while the ambulance was sent for secondary inspection because of a computer selection, he wasn't all that upset at first.
"I kind of blew it off," he said yesterday of his initial reaction. "It's not the first time I was stopped at the border."
It was only after speaking to staff at Henry Ford hospital, where he underwent an emergency angioplasty procedure, that the potentially deadly border delay began to sink in, he said in his first interview since the Nov. 12 incident.
"When I told the nurse in Detroit, they were stunned. They said every second counts," the 49-year-old union representative said from his critical-care bed at Windsor Regional Hospital.
Mr. Laporte said he was originally taken to Windsor Regional, where he suffered a heart attack and had to be revived twice. He woke up to see members of his family standing around him.
"They were all standing over me, crying. I said, 'This doesn't look good.' " Then he was bundled into an ambulance, with a police escort to the tunnel, which had been cleared for him. In pain and drifting in and out of consciousness because of the morphine he'd been given, Mr. Laporte recalls only bits and pieces of what happened as the ambulance pulled up to U.S. border guards.
"I remember him pulling up to the first checkpoint. I wasn't aware of anybody opening the doors."
All he remembers of being sent for secondary inspection is the reaction of the Windsor Regional nurse travelling with him.
"What caught my attention was the nurse saying, 'What the hell are they doing?' I had no idea what was going on. I don't remember seeing them. You really don't care about much at that time," he said.
Mr. Laporte returned to Windsor three days ago after spending seven days at Henry Ford hospital.
He now feels the delay may have contributed to permanent damage to his heart, the extent of which will not be known until tests are conducted six weeks from now.
Yesterday, the U.S. Committee on Homeland Security asked the U.S. government to explain what happened when Mr. Laporte's ambulance tried to cross the border.
"We urge you to immediately review relevant departmental polices and protocols to ensure that emergency personnel are able to respond to urgent situations in a timely manner without compromising" U.S. border security, the committee said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
The committee said it was concerned because of a previous incident days earlier, when Canadian firefighters were stopped at the border for eight minutes as they raced to help their colleagues in the United States who were battling a fire."

This Ontario patient who had emergency heart surgery in Detroit made the point that a three-minute delay while his ambulance crossed the U.S. border may have contributed to permanent damage of his heart.

True...why should we wait for timely healthcare?

But also, isn't waiting for healthcare in Canada a morbid matter of national pride? Isn't anyone 'stunned' about that?

A three-minute border wait to save your life in the States, versus a ???-wait in Ontario - which choice do you make? There was obviously no medical hope left for this patient that Ontario could provide, besides forcing him to travel - like so many before him - to the States for treatment. Truly unbelievable.

Should the focus of this occurrence be solely on border procedures? Shall we demonize the Americans for delaying and possibly preventing timely treatment for this patient?!

Has anyone bothered to ask why Liberal Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s and Health Minister George Smitherman’s supposedly-superlative health-care system continually exports sick Ontarians to the States for treatment in the first place?

'What the hell are they doing', indeed.

[Please, once again, don't tell Michael Moore about this lone, isolated, anecdotal, rare instance of a Canadian patient who is forced to Moore's supposedly-sicko U.S. system for treatment which Canada's utopian universal healthcare could not provide. Detroit helped another Canadian, yet again. Of course, somehow this will be spun as a victory for Ontario's single-payer health monopoly, not a systemic failure!]

Liberals enjoy denouncing the American health system while at the same time using it to cover Ontario's own systemic, single-payer health-care monopoly's inadequacies.

As I asked in a recent post (see: Can McGuinty's Liberals be held negligently liable for the suffering of Ontario patients? Nov.11, 2007) shouldn't McGuinty's and Smitherman's Liberal government be held liable for the suffering of patients due to their health-care monopoly's failures to provide timely medical treatment??

Regardless of any border protocols, McGuinty's Liberals should stop victimizing Ontario patients by shuffling them off to the States for care that rightfully (so we're told) should be available at home in Ontario.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Will Ontario Liberals be consistent when municipalities ask for 'representation by population'?

In the St. Catharines Standard’s story “Councillor moves to keep big-city muscle in check” (Nov.21, 2007) City of Thorold Coun. Shawn Wilson “wants a resolution tabled at the Dec.4 Thorold council meeting asking Queen’s Park “to take absolutely no action” on St. Catharines’ plans to demand more representation at the Region.”

The Standard reported that Wilson has “already spoken to Welland MPP Peter Kormos, whom he said doesn’t support St. Catharine’s idea of representation by population at the Region”.

NDP MPP Peter Kormos’ provincial riding encompasses a small part of St. Catharines’ south end, so it’s nice to see his “support” on behalf of St. Catharines. There was no mention in this story by Standard reporter Tiffany Mayer of St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley’s position. Does Bradley favour stronger representation for St. Catharines at the Regional level?

Coun. Wilson wants Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal-run province of Ontario to “take absolutely no action” when it comes to St. Catharines’ demands for more ‘representation by population’ . However, this is the same McGuinty government which currently is itself demanding more representation for Ontario at the federal level!

As can be read in another St. Catharines Standard report on the same day (Nov.21, 2007), “McGuinty called ‘small man of Confederation’”, Ontario premier McGuinty “is demanding 21 additional seats in the House of Commons instead of living up to the province’s historic role as a nation builder”. Premier McGuinty said of Ontario that “we were under-represented in the House of Commons”. The report also states that McGuinty “appears to have an ally in (Liberal opposition leader Stephane) Dion”.

So, in regards to Coun. Wilson’s ‘take- no-action’ resolution, will the province of Ontario be consistent with its own rhetoric and support the idea of representation by population - as it is doing for itself at the federal level – or, will it show a double-standard and deny a similar plea from St. Catharines at the regional level?

Friday, November 16, 2007

McGuinty has $2+billion surplus, but points finger at feds!

The St. Catharines Standard (Nov.15, 2007) wrote in “GO’s future rests in Bradley’s hands: premier”(which in itself is a scary prospect, but that’s in the previous post): Dalton “McGuinty also said that the province has been lowering taxes and that tax reductions are important, but “it’s not the only thing we need to do” to enhance provincial competitiveness. “Who’s running the $13 billion dollar surpluses?” he said. “It’s the federal government; they find themselves in a position where they can actually cut taxes.”

Dalton, how many 13 billion dollar “surpluses” are there in Canada? If there’s only one, then say “surplus”.

And, um, don’t you and your Grits have a little stash all of your own, a surplus of something like almost $2.5 billion? That’s a tidy amount of overtaxation sitting right under your own nose.

When you say "it's not the only thing we need to do", is panhandling in Ottawa again 'the thing to do'?? Which taxes are your Liberals “lowering”? In opposition, your Liberals were against tax-cuts. Why aren’t you eliminating your hypocritical health premium, which costs us almost three-billion dollars a year? Why aren’t you “lowering” your ridiculously-high provincial sales tax? Or, why aren’t you “lowering” the corporate tax rate?

Your majority government already had four years to "enhance provincial competitiveness", and to work on "infrastructure".

You can only blame the previous government for these failures: the previous McGuinty government.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Former President Bill Clinton lectures Canada on healthcare

The St. Catharines Standard (Nov. 14, 2007) reported on former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s visit last night to speak at the $195-a-ticket Ontario’s Economic Summit in Niagara-On-The Lake, Ontario, Canada: “Clinton commended Canada on several fronts, from the country's fiscal responsibility to its military involvement in Afghanistan to its public health care. Half of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are due to health-care emergencies, said Clinton, urging Canadians to fight for their public system at all costs. "I keep reading Canadians are dissatisfied with the waiting times of the Canadian system," Clinton said. "But don't ever let the health-care bank tail wag the health-care dog or you'll be in trouble." "

But, we are in trouble! We're the ones going to the States for medical treatment.

Clinton seems to use this tail-wags-dog homily at every stop he makes, like in a May 15, 2006 Toronto speech where he called the U.S. health system a mess and warned Canadians not to let the "health-care finance tail wag the health-care dog."

Clinton says he keeps reading about Canadians dissatisfied with waiting times, but…what? Is Clinton suggesting Canadians stop escaping to the States for healthcare which they can’t get in Canada because of government-run ineptitude? Even Clinton’s friend, Canadian pro-medicare Liberal politician Belinda Stronach had to leave Canada to get cancer treatment in the States. She's not the only one.

What does that then say about Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty's government-run health care monopoly, which continually relies upon sending ill Ontarians to the States for treatment which his Liberal system cannot provide at home? The Liberal Health Minister, George Smitherman, admitted in August of 2005: "If you look around Ontario, you can use the word 'system' all you want, but we don't have one."

Is Clinton aware that Premier McGuinty’s Liberals have increased taxes, instituted a separate additional $2.8 billion health-care tax/premium, and de-listed previously-covered, so-called “universal” health coverage? Is Clinton aware that Ontario’s health care system was called a “cruel game” by Ontario’s ombudsman, Andre Marin? Does Clinton know that a constitutional court challenge to Ontario’s healthcare monopoly has been launched by patient Lindsay McCreith? Does it matter that McCreith was almost killed by our health-system's wait-times, and was forced to get treatment in the U.S.? Does Clinton know of the nuances and implications of Quebec’s Chaoulli decision? Does Clinton know that Dalton McGuinty now admits that Ontario’s government spends 50% of Ontario's entire budget just in the Ministry of Health? While Clinton wags his finger at us, is he aware that a dog can get an MRI faster in Canada than a citizen? Does it matter to Clinton that in Ontario, about 1.2 million people (out of a population of over 12 million) don’t have a doctor? Does it matter that Ontario's socialized healthcare system is short 2,000 doctors (National Post, Nov.15, 2007)? Does it matter that even Canada's Liberal opposition leader, Stephane Dion, said (Toronto Sun, Aug.17, 2007): "We know that we have awful wait times in this country...On a per capita basis it's not very good, the number of doctors and nurses that we have in Canada...In many provinces it's almost impossible to have a family doctor." And, does it matter that Dion, ironically, said this about Canada in an interview after just having seen Michael Moore's Sicko?! Does it matter that, when even Canada's opposition leader admits Canada has severe healthcare issues despite forty years worth of imposed medicare, shows Moore's premise of Canada's halcyon health care is full of hot air?

Is Bill Clinton seriously trying to conjure up Canada as the template for HillaryCare II? Even the left in the States is aware that Canada is not the role model to envy if you’re seeking reforms.

In R.J Dickens’ Kansas Journal, “Do the math with Clinton”, Bill Clinton cites that the "U.S. spends 34 percent of its health care dollars on administration; nobody else in the world spends more than 19 percent. That means Americans are spending $300 billion more on paperwork. "We are the only country in the world that lets the financing tail wag the health care dog," Clinton said in a line that got him the biggest applause of the night."

At the Perspectives in Health Care Forum Conference Sponsored by Huron Consulting & Kellogg School of Management, May 19, 2006, Evanston, IL Clinton was quoted: " "I’ve done my best with my limited research resources available to analyze it. The nearest I can figure out, here’s the difference. We spend 34% of the American health care dollars on administration. No other country spends more than 19, that’s a 15% difference." "

The Canadian Press reported on Apr. 20, 2006 that “Clinton said the last thing anyone would want to do is let the "health care finance tail wag the health care dog." He said America did just that and the system is a mess.

He said the U.S. spends 34 per cent of its health-care costs on administration, equalling $280 billion "to pay two million people to go to work every day for all the providers and insurers and play tug-of-war."

"It is insane," said Clinton. "It is a colossal waste of money. Don't go down that road. Don't do anything that will lead to increased administrative costs."

By comparison, Canada spends 19 per cent on administration, Clinton said.”

So: do the math with Bill Clinton: according to him, if Canada’s socialist system ‘spends 19% on administration costs’, and if ‘no other country spends more than 19%’, then Canada has the second highest costs – according to Bill Clinton! But, that’s not how it's portrayed.

When Clinton had heart surgery at New York's Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, did he meekly wait in line for messy, sub-standard, government-rationed service? We didn't see him pick Canada as his top medical choice, in fact we don’t see many Americans at all. They wouldn’t put up with it.

If renowned institutions like Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Heart Clinic, or the Mayo Clinic are supposed evidence of a messy system, then that's the kind of mess that Canadians can only aspire to. And that’s where, out of necessity, our failed single-tier, supposedly-universal healthcare sham has forced many of us – to Clinton’s country, because that’s where it’s available.

I hope the Democrats don’t put an end to that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Read 'em and weep

Why do I get strange looks when readin' this during the commute?

Asking Liberal Transportation Minister Jim Bradley: Where is Niagara's GO Train?

Here’s a letter to the editor by Doris Olesky (St. Catharines Standard, Jun.21, 2000) “Leave your car at home and use public transit”:

“The story The menacing haze on the front page of The Standard, June 10, is another grim reminder for me and many other Niagara residents, of the ever-mounting, increasingly urgent problems of smog from our cars and other gas guzzlers.

The Harris Tories need to make our air quality a priority. Legislating the level of sulphur in gasoline and the emissions from power generation and industry and funding more public transit is a must.

As a senior citizen, my concern is not only for the maintenance of my health and of those around me, but the effect this poor air quality will continue to have on my grandchildren and their children.

There's no doubt about it, we are all spoiled when it is very convenient to jump in our cars, to attend to errands we could easily walk to.

St. Catharines MP and Liberal environment critic Jim Bradley has repeatedly asked the provincial government to fund a GO train between Niagara and Toronto to cut back on the number of cars travelling daily on the QEW.

Most experts agree on one thing --cleaning the air will come at a heavy financial price. The public has to get ready to pay part of that higher cost to help implement these changes.

But there's no doubt about it, every one of Niagara's residents has to begin to make a personal commitment to help make a change. It's not only the government's responsibility. Until each one of us is willing to make a few sacrifices, we will keep complaining about this environmental problem. Are you able and willing to walk to an errand or take public transit?

I've decided to leave my car at home and walk or take public transit. Maybe I'll see you at the bus stop!"
Isn't this letter precious?! Yes, even Jim Bradley’s own constituents were under the impression that somehow Jim Bradley supported a GO train to Niagara, and this is over seven years ago, in 2000! Note the skew in this letter was that 'the Harris Tories' were somehow to blame, and that Super Jim Bradley was somehow the hero.

The letter-writer tells us that Jim Bradley repeatedly asked” (ie, disingenuously postured) about Niagara GO train funding when he was safely in opposition, but we now see that Bradley never actually did anything about it when he had the chance! And he did it again (now as an incumbent) in the 2007 election campaign, during the all-candidate’s meeting at the CAW hall: he said the GO train is coming, but upon being re-elected and anointed Minister of Transportation, all Bradley could say is Niagara might – eventually - get a GO bus!!

Bradley supporters seemingly were under the impression Bradley’s Liberals would also do something about smog and air quality, but Bradley’s Liberals failed on that account as well. Ontario’s own environmentl commissioner harshly criticized Bradley’s government, giving the Grits a failing grade for enforcement funding; in 2006, the Sierra Club gave the Liberals an ‘F’ on climate change; in 2007, even Greenpeace called the Liberal's meagre climate change funding “laughable’.
In opposition, Bradley’s Liberals postured about deaths and asthmatic suffering from Nanticoke's emissions. Yet, while they were breaking their promise to close the plant, for four years they didn’t even bother to at least help the situation by installing scrubbers.

Columnist Doug Herod wrote in the St. Catharines Standard (Oct.2, 2000): Bradley doesn't think the highway should be expanded. He believes the province should be looking at transportation alternatives such as GO Transit…Bradley says he, too, is uncomfortable with the thought of the region becoming a commuter haven. But he maintains heavy Niagara traffic to Toronto is already a reality. Better to meet that need with increased rail service than adding lanes to the QEW, he says. As for any development pressure, Bradley says that can be handled through inviolable land-use policies set by the province.”
So what did Bradley and his Liberals do during their four years of majority government (2003-2007)? They did the exact opposite: they expanded the highway in Niagara, and did nothing but stall and make excuses about GO!

As for Bradley’s views in Herod’s article, about “development pressure” and “inviolable land-use policies set by the province” – little did we know that Bradley was foreshadowing his Liberal’s authoritarian “Greenbelt”policy. Unlike other cities, this Greenbelt completely surrounded St. Catharines – spurring intensification within the city, to the resentment of a seeming majority of Garden City nimby-folk. (What did they think was to be the fallout from Bradley’s ‘inviolable policies’?!)

Herod wrote : The thought of sprawling subdivisions popping up in west Niagara because Toronto commuters have GO Transit as an travelling option makes me shudder…GO works most efficiently when it serves a large suburban base where a significant portion of the population works outside its municipal boundaries, usually Toronto. Without provincial and/or federal help, it can't afford to stretch to areas outside the congested Toronto orbit, no matter what environmental advantages might accrue. And so we have no hope of getting an expanded commuter rail service until we start looking more like Richmond Hill or Markham. If that's the price to pay, I'll gladly pass.”
So, Doug - we’ll keep St. Catharines in stasis, in the happy days of Andy of Mayberry, a little Liberal Utopian island of status-quo, all on its own… no wonder Bradley Do-Little thrives in this town. Bradley’s two-faced, lacklustre performance reminds me of the lyrics of a Paul Simon song: “Nothin’ but the dead and the dying back in my little town…”

If we keep St. Catharines ‘small’, you see, through restrictive land use policies, we’ll never be able to qualify for, and therefore, support, a GO train! Problem solved! The halcyon days of our past will last, unchanged, for evermore!

Herod wrote (St. Catharines Standard, Mar.6, 2003): “Actually, I'm lukewarm to the idea of bringing GO here. To me, it would only encourage urban sprawl in Niagara to accommodate Toronto-bound commuters. Now, that's what I call unacceptable.”
Herod also asked: “Who’s more to blame for not having GO here, the Liberals or the Progressive Conservatives?”
Has Herod asked that question now in 2007, after four years of Liberal majority rule?! Did any of this "sprawl" which makes Herod shudder-so, occur since Bradley's 1977 election? Fuggetabout Bradley’s posturing and flip-flops on the beneficial tourism, environmental, and commuter aspects of GO transit: the goal is to pretend GO is coming, while suppressing development and growth. Bradley loved to fearmonger with rhetoric about how developers are ready to pave and bulldoze Ontario. And many believed his bluster.

Even Welland, located south of St. Catharines, has notions of GO rail. In “Fantastic idea; Railway owner makes pitch for Go Transit service” (Welland Tribune, Jul.20, 2006) Greg Furminger wrote:

“Local officials are looking to derail the notion that Go Transit service run through the Garden City, and that it instead be brought to the Rose City to help spur growth in Niagara's southern tier.
"What a coup it would be for Welland to have Go service instead of St. Catharines," Ward 1 Coun. David Alexander said at Tuesday night's city council meeting, following a pitch from Trillium Railway Co. owner Wayne Ettinger to operate service on leased, existing CP Rail lines between Hamilton and Niagara.
Alexander called it "a fantastic idea."
Mayor Damian Goulbourne said it's time that Welland "ruffle some feathers in St. Catharines," which is now awaiting Go Bus service, pending future expansion of rail operations. Goulbourne was also critical of leanings at Niagara Region that Go service be established in the north. He cited the upper-tier municipality's Grow South policy that encourages economic development in Niagara's southern tier as a case for a southern rail connection.
And, he said, the province's Places to Grow: Better Choices, Better Future document, which recently highlighted Welland as the only city in the Greater Golden Horseshoe as a gateway economic centre, also supports the city's case. Recently presented to Niagara officials inside Welland council chambers, by Public Infrastructure Renewal Minister David Caplan, Places to Grow encourages development of transit-friendly communities to attract investors and foster growth.
"We are not going to sit back and allow the Regional Municipality of Niagara to decide where this is going to go," Goulbourne said in council chambers, to applause from a public gallery packed with residents awaiting news on other council business.”
Joseph Viola wrote in “I support bringing GO to Niagara”, (St. Catharines Standard, Feb.15, 2003):

“I recently heard Progressive Conservative candidate Mark Brickell unveil his election campaign.

I was quite impressed by his conviction to have GO Transit extended to the Niagara region. This is an important issue not only to me, but also for many other career-oriented individuals raised in St. Catharines.

I left Toronto in July 2001 to move home, knowing full well I would take a significant decrease in annual income although I never understood why such a beautiful region could not offer more.
GO Transit will afford me the opportunity to access a higher- paying career in Toronto without having to move there. More importantly, it provides me that access in an environmentally friendly manner.

GO will also provide the impetus for more successful business and career-oriented individuals to move to the Niagara Region.

The "twin" opportunity that such a transit system provides is an increase in the number of highly paid citizens and a reciprocal increase in the growth of the local economy servicing and supplying these wealthier individuals.

I look forward to the day that our region offers its youth career opportunities that pay well. I believe that if we put the right people in place, we can develop these opportunities for future generations. After all, an efficient transit system is the heart of a strong economy.

I have met with MPP Jim Bradley on numerous occasions and cannot deny I enjoy his conversation, intelligence and integrity.

What cannot be denied, however, is the lack of progress (socially and economically) as well as prosperity Bradley has achieved. I am confident that Brickell is committed to making our region the leader it should be and he is surprisingly willing to make himself accountable for it. This is a contract I am willing to support.”
Susan Fast wrote in “Let's hope Eves will implement Bradley's GO train service idea”, (St. Catharines Standard, Feb 25, 2003):

“It's nice to see people jumping on the GO Transit bandwagon in recent weeks, after extensive private polling revealed a desire for this service in Niagara.

Much has been made by the writers of letters to the editor since the Progressive Conservative nomination meeting that this service has not been extended to our area, but surely if Niagara Falls MPP Bart Maves, Erie-Lincoln MPP Tim Hudak and Stoney Creek MPP Brad Clark (the latter two cabinet ministers) had been pushing for the service, it would have been extended by now.

When St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley called for GO Transit service to Niagara back in May of 2000, Maves -- using his frank and honest assessment of the possibility -- stated in a Standard article that "to think that (GO Transit) would be self-sustaining to bring it to Niagara is probably unlikely."

Let's hope that our premier, with an election on the horizon, will have a change of heart, as he did with the Beck III Hydro project in Niagara Falls, and follow yet another recommendation from St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley and finally announce the new service.”

Ah, yes…in 2003, while in opposition, Bradley’s own constituents were convinced that GO transit was Jim Bradley’s recommendation! Why, Bradley, bless him, “called for GO transit service to Niagara back in May 2000”!

But now, in November 2007, no-one wants to know what Jim Bradley was pretending to believe back then! Now, no one is writing letters to the editor asking Jim Bradley to “finally announce the new” Go service which he himself supposedly recommended in 2000!

Where is the St. Catharines Standard headline in 2007 which reads: "Let's hope Jim Bradley will implement Jim Bradley's GO train service idea." ?!?

For an example of Liberal duplicity regarding Niagara GO trains, here's what GreenFear-pusher Dalton McGuinty said in “Grits want GO for Niagara: Extending mass transit would improve air quality, Dalton McGuinty says” (St Catharines Standard, Jul.7, 2000):

“GO Transit is a cure for what ails Niagara's polluted air, said Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty, following a discussion with local environmental activists Thursday.
During the noon-hour meeting McGuinty, along with Liberal environment critic and St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley, met with a dozen representatives from Niagara groups at Niagara Suites in Thorold.
After the meeting, the Liberal leader insisted the governing Tories expand the mass transit system into Niagara to help reduce pollution.
"The provincial government has some fundamental responsibilities here," he said. "We are one of the few places where the government has gotten out of public transit."
Niagara's air quality is among the poorest in the province. Though there has only been one smog alert in the region this summer, the smog levels are consistently high.
Experts say smog -- a combination of ground level ozone and fine particles in the air -- threatens both humans and crops.
McGuinty said Niagara has to find a way to reduce the number of cars on the road, and the provincial government should be there to help.
Echoing past comments by Bradley, McGuinty said the governing Tories should expand the GO Transit system into Niagara to reduce smog-producing emissions from cars.
GO Transit is a mass transit system that is funded and operated by the municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area along with the region of Hamilton-Wentworth.
McGuinty said GO Transit should be provincially funded and extended to Niagara.
"There is a real potential in this region (for GO Transit)," he said, adding the system could link the region's municipalities and help the tourist industry.
McGuinty also attacked Premier Mike Harris's environmental record, saying Ontario residents no longer feel safe.
"We are not talking about an abstract thing here, we are talking about the air you just breathed," he said, promising that if he is elected premier the Liberals will restore many of the cuts made to the Ministry of the Environment.
McGuinty and Bradley also discussed water and land quality with the local activists.
Curbing urban sprawl and protecting Niagara agricultural land were at the top of the agenda.
"I was quite pleased with the meeting," said Gracia Janes of the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society. "(McGuinty) didn't say every much. He just listened, which is fine because he is formulating his environmental policy."
The meeting was one of several stops McGuinty made during a day- long tour of Niagara.”
Now compare the above Jul.7, 2000 report with what McGuinty said in "GO's future rests in Bradley's hands: premier" (St. Catharines Standard, Nov.15, 2007):

"It's up to the province's transportation minister, St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley, to assess the "broader priorities" of any possible GO Transit service expansion to Niagara, said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
McGuinty was fielding a question about GO's expansion status during a Wednesday press conference held at the Ontario Economic Summit.
"I've heard on several occasions about the need for us to look to opportunities in the Niagara region," said the premier at the three-day Niagara-on-the-Lake event, which ends today.
"We've made some specific commitments through our MoveOntario 2020 (transit infrastructure) plan, which takes a look at the GTA and Hamilton itself," he said. "Those will be our principle responsibilities and priorities at this point in time."
So in 2007, Liberal McGuinty is saying he's "heard on several occassions about the need to look to opportunities in the Niagara region". Is he for real?!

Who did Dalton 'hear' this from?!? Has Dalton conveniently forgotten his own words?!? It was McGuinty himself was saying bring GO to Niagara - SEVEN years ago!
McGuinty's the hypocrite prescribing GO transit as a (pre-Kyoto, I might add) "cure" for Niagara's air! He's the opposition leader who tagged along with Bradley to Niagara, belching their Liberal rhetoric about smog and transit and GO and water and land quality and ozone - by golly, McGuinty must have been listening intently, what with all that supposed policy-formulatin' and future promise-breakin' going on in his head! Didn't McGuinty and Bradley already make their assessment in 2000, or was what they were saying in 2000 PURE LIBERAL B.S.?

Graham Coveney wrote in “Bradley has done little for GO transit”, (St. Catharines Standard, Mar.4, 2003):

“In response to the letter of Feb. 25, Let's hope Eves will implement Bradley's GO train service idea. It perplexes me how someone could write a letter to this newspaper talking about what great ideas and strong action MPP Jim Bradley has taken in bringing GO Transit to St. Catharines.

Ideas are great, but an idea and $1.29 will get you a large coffee. Without follow through, delivery and sustained effort, they are useless.

Bradley has had a long time to bring better public transport to Niagara; that idea has had more than two decades to "brew" but ideas don't take flight on lip service alone.

And even on the rare occasion he has gotten it right, Bradley's brilliance has been temporary. When he had the brainstorm to lower taxes to stimulate the economy, back when Bob Rae was premier, he then voted against 208 consecutive tax cuts.

Spare us the cry that the PCs are stealing the brilliant "idea" of GO Transit for Niagara and creating an action plan to make it a reality. Lord knows we can't afford to wait for Bradley to do something.”
By 2007, we were still waiting! Gabriella Cinalli wrote in “Commuters from Niagara need GO Transit”, (St. Catharines Standard, Mar.20, 2003):

“I am a young woman who works in Burlington for SIR Corp. I have a 45-minute commute on a good day and nearly 90-minute commute when traffic or the weather is bad.

I would love to use the GO Transit to get to work and back and would vote for Mark Brickell to have it. I realize in the past I had voted for Jim Bradley, but it is time for change in the community to bring in new and exciting things like the GO Transit.

GO Transit would save me time and money, I also would feel safer and I know it is better for the environment. Just the idea of not driving, whether it was a train or a bus, appeals to me a great deal. My commutes are the low point of my day. I have been driving to the Hamilton and Burlington area since 1993 and it really takes a toll on the body.

Mark Brickell, please bring GO Transit to Niagara. It has been way too long.”
Brickell ran unsuccessfully against Bradley in 2003. By the end of 2007, Bradley has done nothing to address Cinalli’s concerns. At least some local residents were voicing in 2003, what a lot more voters said in the 2007 election campaign: “I realize I had voted for Jim Bradley in the past, but it is time for a change.” Wow: now that IS an epiphany for a Bradley voter!
Mark Halden wrote in “Jim Bradley did little to bring in GO Transit” (St. Catharines Standard, Mar.5, 2003):

When the house resumes at Queen's Park, undoubtedly MPP Jim Bradley will rise during Question Period and talk about the importance of better public transit.

He is the Liberal party's environmental critic, so he should support policy that protects the environment.

Jim will say something like "we would like to see an enhanced train service [in Niagara]" like he did in November 2002, or "I would like to see GO Transit," as he did in June 2001.

Or maybe even, "I think there's a need for some public transit, but I'm not unrealistic; I don't expect that GO Transit should have the same service from St. Catharines that it has from Oshawa," as he did in December 2000.

The Liberals are worried about attacks on Jim's character, but it's difficult not to poke at his resolve.

If Bradley is so dedicated to public transit, why has he never requested that a committee be struck, or even why hasn't he requested a study on GO Transit or passed a private member's bill to support either?

Public transportation is good public policy. It is good for the environment and it's good for Niagara.

Standing up once a year and going through the motions are not enough.Feeling it would be nice to have these things doesn't bring change.

St. Catharines needs a representative who can, and will, sit at the decision-making table, make a strong commitment and follow through on this commitment.

We need GO Transit and we need action now, not more lip service.

People of Niagara want more economic development here, and that is what GO Transit will bring.”
Katherine Kerley wrote in “Face it, St. Catharines is not a small town”, (St. Catharines Standard (July 3, 2006):

"I'm not exactly sure what it is about St. Catharines that leads a majority of its residents to believe they are part of small-town Canadiana.

It could be our rural heritage or our huge flower budget, but no matter what it is, I have three words for all of the city's small-towners: get over yourselves! Statistically and practically speaking, a small town we are not.

As an urban area, St. Catharines-Niagara ranks 12th nationally in population size. To put things further into perspective, our city is larger than any city in New Brunswick, larger than the populations of all the territories combined, larger than any city in Nova Scotia (excluding Halifax) and larger than the entire province of Prince Edward Island.

Just because we live in the urban mecca of our country (i.e. Ontario) doesn't mean we are the centre of the small-town universe by the simple fact that we aren't Toronto. Open your eyes, people. If you run out of fingers in counting the number of high schools, it's time to snap to reality and deal with the fact that yes, we are a city, and yes, we are a large one. City Coun. Bruce Williamson, quoted in a front page article on June 28, said "We're not a big city and I think it's incorrect we should share their values."

Sure! Why should we value things associated with big cities, such as diversity, inclusion, multiculturalism, a variety of public spaces, music venues and restaurants, and yes, economic growth? That's just plain silly talk!

I'm sure I'm not the only youth that's frustrated with the mindset of this city. No one really wants to stay in a city with such antiquated and conflicting views of itself. Do I believe that a tower in Port Dalhousie will begin to solve this problem? I think that it will probably aggravate an already heated debate; however, this tower is just the project that this city needs to resolve its identity crisis. Small town or large city? Let's hope someone can figure out what this city needs to be.”
Who is Bruce Williamson, this proponent of small-town St. Catharines and it’s alleged Father Knows Best values? As Doug Herod pointed out in the St. Catharines Standard (Oct.17, 2007):

“How about that Jim Bradley and his fellow provincial Liberals winning re-election last week?
Great news for a lot of people here, no more so than for some St. Catharines city councillors.

That's because three of them - Bruce Williamson, Bill Phillips and Andrew Gill - sit on the executive of the St. Catharines Liberal riding association.

Nothing untoward about that. Indeed, people in public office are often political animals who are naturally drawn to the affairs of other levels of government.

But, what the heck, it never hurts to have knowledge of such high-ranking political affiliations as we start a new term of provincial/municipal relations in St. Catharines.

You never know, it may explain the tenor of debate on certain issues at city council. Or not.”
By 'debate' , does he mean the status-quo pushin’, small-town peddlin’, tax raisin’, growth-retardin’, let’s-pretend-St. Catharines-can-defy-progress believin’ paternalism of Liberals? Bradley even had nothing to say about a proposed Port Dalhousie redevelopment project in St. Catharines. He left it up to his riding executives, aka the local Liberal municipal senate, such as Liberal senator Bruce Williamson, to be his proxies.

In a column called “Homeboy Bradley now calling transportation shots” (St. Catharines Standard, Nov.2, 2007), all Herod could manage to say after Bradley’s re election was: “Truth be told, Bradley probably won't be able to bring GO train service to Niagara, either”.

So that’s it from the local press?! Sheeeeesh, Doug.

Who really cares what our own homie Jim Bradley said… we’re just happy he got re-elected, so he can continue saying (but not actually doing!) those things in the future!

In “GO service in Niagara would take 'pressure' off highways” (St. Catharines Standard, Apr. 25, 2005) Trish Audette writes GO chairman Gordon Chong said, it's better to look at how well GO service is received by riders. Whenever a new stop or route is added, commuters immediately take advantage of it.

"Once you put the service in, the existing residents will try to use it and they will stick with it if it compares favourably to using a car," he said.

Meanwhile, others "will move to an area when there is transit service." The combination of lower housing prices outside Toronto and transportation options acts as a lure to young couples and families, Chong said.

It's that movement of residents and potential residents that positions GO as an engine of economic growth, said [John Barr, project co-ordinator with the Regional Municipality of Niagara's public works and transportation department] and regional transportation engineer Eric Flora.

The arrival of GO in Burlington and Oakville, Barr said, signalled an economic boom in those areas. "It seems to be very good for their economic well-being in terms of residential growth and economic growth."

St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley, who regularly drives back and forth between his Niagara home and Toronto, said GO would be a welcome alternative to hitting a QEW with traffic regularly getting clogged at the Burlington Skyway.

"It's a convenience that most people would like to have...." he said. "I think people look for that way to (get to) Toronto without grinding their teeth." ”

Whatever you say, Jim. Unfortunately, many of us have to grind our teeth just listening to your ineffective, blustering rhetoric. St. Catharines doesn’t need to signal that it welcomes any economic booms, right, Jim? We must stop luring - shudder - young couples with families to St. Catharines, right, Jim? For 30 years Jim 'regularly drives back and forth' to Queen's Park, but won't actually deliver GO train service to Niagara!

So… Jim Bradley is now the Minister of Transportation, in a second-term majority Liberal government. He no longer can justify trotting out his tired, and predictable, crutch of blaming everything on Mike Harris.

It’s time (sigh, again) for champion hypocrite, 30+ year MPP, homie Jim 'Nothin' but the dead and the dying back in my little town' Bradley to put up or shut up.