Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Liberal Jim Bradley looks like he's got something to hide

MPP Jim Bradley:

The St. Catharines Standard (Jan.30, 2008) wrote in “Ontario premier blasts Harper Tories on environment”: “Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says the federal government suffers from a “poverty of ambition” when it comes to fighting the global issue of climate change.”

Did you read the part where Federal Environment Minister John Baird said the Ontario premier should look at his own environmental record before criticizing Ottawa? Baird mentioned that your coal-fired electricity-generators have not been closed yet, and mentioned your Liberal’s stance not to accept California-style emission standards.

I think your Liberal government suffers from a poverty of truth’, as well as an abundance of hypocrisy. I bring the following essay for your attention:

Here’s a nice lie told by Dalton McGuinty to Ontarians in May 2003: “By 2007, we’re going to have cleaner air in this province come hell or high water.” (Globe and Mail, Jun.10, 2006)

McGuinty railed that he would close all of Ontario’s coal-generated electricity plants by last year – well, it’s 2008 and that promise turned into a Liberal lie. McGuinty’s Liberals in 2003 even wanted to ban the export of non-emergency coal-fired electricity. (St. Catharines Standard, Jul.17, 2007)

This was partly due to their fear mongering - in opposition - regarding coal emission dangers: why produce more than you have to? was their thinking. Of course, limiting our production to bare minimums only made it easier to have to buy from U.S. coal fired producers.

The St. Catharines Standard (Jun.21, 2002) reported Liberal MPP Jim Bradley asked Energy and Environment Minister Chris Stockwell to stop selling coal-fired power to the U.S. on non-emergency days.

"If we shut them down, we would actually put people in a blackout situation in the province. None of us want that, [Stockwell] said" .

The Standard wrote: “The Liberal environment critic and St. Catharines MPP [Bradley] said Thursday that Stockwell is favouring energy interests over environmental ones. "As minster of energy, he has an obligation ... to provide as much power to the people of Ontario as cheaply as possible," Bradley said at Queen's Park. "As minister of the environment, his obligation is to ensure that we have clean, breathable air. In my view, the minister does not have an objective opportunity to reduce air pollutants in Ontario because one is a conflicting interest over the other."

How disingenuous when you look back from 2008 at how the Liberals lied about what they were going to achieve. Bradley’s Liberals haven’t closed all the coal fired plants, nor have they at least installed scrubbers on them for the interim. Maybe Jim Bradley can reveal how many people his Liberals made sick since 2003 with their environmental deceit? Liberal promises of supposed "clean air" were nothing more than vote-grabbing hot-air.

The Hamilton Spectator (Dec.11, 1998) wrote of Jim Bradley fan David Suzuki saying: "Air pollution is responsible for 6,000 premature deaths a year in Ontario alone." Of course, now that Jim Bradley is in power, not in opposition, and Jim Bradley's Liberals have closed no other plants except Lakeview (whose closing was set by the previous Conservatives), have Suzuki's death-figures changed? How many premature deaths in Ontario today are due solely to Liberal political posturing and misrepresentation?

The St. Catharines Standard (Jun.5, 2002) wrote: “Bradley had asked Stockwell about the amount of pollution produced by coal-fired power plants in Ontario.

By way of reply, Stockwell said Bradley was trying to push Ontario into a technological and economic dark age. "If we listen to the thinking of the critic for the environment, the only way he wants to (decrease pollution) is we close down all our infrastructure, close down all our plants, close down all our manufacturing, lay everybody off and put them on welfare," he said. "We would be like Guam." Guam, located in the south Pacific, was purchased by the U.S. in 1899 and, therefore, included in the report. "It was just so ludicrous an answer, such a Neanderthal answer," Bradley said in an interview Tuesday. "That was the kind of argument put up before environment control years and years ago in very backward jurisdictions where the polluters had the government in their back pocket."”

There goes ole "pipsqueak" Bradley again (as Ralph Klein fondly once referred to him), with his “Neanderthal” condemnation – when, as we well have since seen, his Liberals were nothing more than environmental posers, lying their way into power.

Has anyone today in 2008, "asked" Jim Bradley "about the amount of pollution produced" from his Liberal-controlled coal-fired power stacks?

Back on May 12, 1989 the Toronto Star wrote: "Judging by his inept performance in the Legislature this week, Environment Minister Jim Bradley looks a little like a man who has something to hide. He has enraged the opposition with his wordy, vague responses to allegations that fuel tainted with toxic waste was being smuggled into Canada from the United States."

Who can hide the fact today that Jim Bradley and his Liberals have done nothing about the Nanticoke coal fired plant?

Continued the St Catharines Standard (Jun.5, 2002): “Bradley's question had come on the heels of a new North American Free Trade Agreement report that said Ontario is the third worst polluting region in North America, behind only Texas and Ohio. He repeated his longstanding call that the government convert coal-fired power plants, such as the one in Nanticoke that contributes to Niagara's smog each summer, to natural gas to reduce air pollution.”

So why is Jim Bradley hiding from his B.S.bluster now? Why isn’t Bradley repeating his wordy rejoinders, his “longstanding” calls, to close and convert Nanticoke now? What is Bradley hiding today - the economic costs of shutting down coal without having viable alternatives in place – as Stockwell plainly said six years ago? How’s Bradley’s Ontario now…still behind Texas and Ohio? Or does Neanderthal Bradley want our economy to become like Guam’s?

Bradley once compared Conservative Energy Minister Jim Wilson to Phineas T. Bluster from Howdy Doody (St. Catharines Standard, Oct.24, 2001). How clever…yet now it is Bradley who strangely resembles Bluster, carrying a sack full of stinking Liberal doody. Jimbo has turned into a McGuinty marionette, full of contradictory jibber-jabber.

Bradley was in a Conservative-government-initiated committee reporting on alternate energy plans which recommended the phasing out of coal fired plants by 2015 (Hamilton Spectator, Jun.10, 2002). But then, during the 2003 election, the Liberals recklessly speeded up that timetable, in retrospect, solely because of their lust for political power.

Having failed to do what they promised in 2003, the Liberals “have now drafted a regulation to close all coal fired plants by New Year’s Eve 2014, which means any subsequent government will have to change the law if it wants to keep the plants open.” (St. Catharines Standard, Jul.26, 2007)

This was a cute pre-2007-election gambit for the Grits – this “law” means the Liberals can safely fiddle around for another almost four years, till the 2011 election, as they have done over the last four years, since 2003; leaving a subsequent government only three years to accomplish the task.

The Sarnia Observer (Jul.26, 2007) wrote: "A CIBC report is predicting electricity costs could rise up to 70 per cent when Ontario mothballs its four coal-fired plants but McGuinty said that pales in comparison to the cost of doing nothing about global warming."

But why should Jim Bradley (“a left leaning Liberal”, as Ian Urquhart described him, Toronto Star, Jun.10, 2002) care about costs? Jim has his wealthy pension unlocked, Jim has his nice salary-increase, Jim has his nice shiny black Malibu, that he was bragging about when he was shilling about ‘buying GM’ at the CAW all-candidates meeting during the election…Jim has it good. A 70% increase in hydro costs won’t bother Bradley much, will it?

The Hamilton Spectator (Jul.19, 2002) wrote "the cost of switching Nanticoke and the other fossil-fuelled plants to cleaner fuels such as natural gas is formidable. OPG estimates it would cost $3 billion to replace Nanticoke's coal generation with natural gas; to replace all of the fossil-fuelled plants would cost $6 billion. But the cost of smog and poor air quality is equally daunting. On top of an estimated 1,900 premature deaths a year, the Ontario Medical Association estimates that health care, lost work time, and related expenses run into billions of dollars annually."

The Sarnia Observer quoted McGuinty on July 26, 2007 still saying: "The single greatest contributor to greenhouse gases in the province of Ontario is coal-fired generation so we're going to do something about that."

So why didn't the Liberals do what they said they were going to do in government, given all the information that was appearing during the time they were in opposition. Surely, they had a plan, didn't they?

The Hamilton Spectator (Jul.10, 2005) wrote: "A 10-year outlook, prepared by experts at the IESO and released last week, warned that the province's plan to phase out coal generating plants by 2007 "represents the largest and most significant electricity system change ever undertaken in Ontario ... (and) involves significant risks and challenges ..." "

Shouldn't the McGuinty brain-trust already have taken this into consideration prior to making rash promises during their election campaign in 2003??

So, to prepare for the Oct.2007 election, the Liberals had to admit their lying promises were just that.

The Globe and Mail reported in “Ontario reneges on coal pledge” (Jun.10, 2006):

“The Ontario government retreated yesterday from a campaign promise and conceded what has been obvious to its critics for some time: it can't meet a self-imposed deadline to shut down the province's aging coal-burning electricity-generating plants.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said new information reveals that the province doesn't have enough electricity to keep the lights on if it stops burning coal by 2009.

"This is a setback, there's no doubt about it," he said in an interview yesterday.”

A “setback”!!? Really!!?

And just when did the Liberal geniuses come to that conclusion??!!

Un-flicking believeable! It’s like Duncan, Phineas T. Bradley, and their company, JUST FOUND THIS OUT in 2006!!!?

How can it be a setback, when the whole proposition was essentially an unattainable goal: in other words, a practical lie?

It’s like Jim Bradley simply and arrogantly didn’t care to understand what Chris Stockwell was plainly telling him, back in 2002!!

Randy Schelhas wrote in the Brantford Expositor (Jul.16, 2007):

“Many people will remember that 2014 was the earliest possible closing date articulated by the Progressive Conservatives during the 2003 election campaign.

At that time the Liberals claimed they would close all of Ontario's coal-fired electrical generation by 2007 in spite of widespread media reports in which energy professionals were agreeing with the PCs.

There are two possibilities. Either Dalton McGuinty and his Energy Minister Dwight Duncan are extremely stupid or they knowingly lied in order to win the 2003 election.”

Yet, astoundingly, Ontario re-elected them AGAIN in 2007: no matter how they cheat, spin, or lie.

*

Mr. Bradley, do you have any comments on the issues raised in this letter? Or, now that you've been elected, do you feel you can arrogantly sail through the next four years ignoring your constituents?

Also, again I ask, will you be calling for the Ombudsman to investigate the Niagara Health System's inordinately high mortality-rate, the third-highest in Canada?

Asking the Ministry of Health or the local LHIN to look into the NHS's 'organizational' structure is an inadequate response; that's like having the fox "investigate" the henhouse.

Mr. Bradley, you haven't given the people of St. Catharines an explanation for what is going on here in your Liberal health-care monopoly.

While your Liberals sit on billions of dollars of tax-surplus, the NHS has recently said they are underfunded. What are your Liberals doing about that?

Is "climate change" (whatever that means when Liberals say it) a higher priority for you than health-care?

Perhaps your Liberals also suffer from a 'poverty of priority'. Dalton McGuinty recently wrote a guest editorial-page column in the St. Catharines Standard (Jan. 19, 2008) where he didn't once even mention the word 'health-care'.

As always, I look forward to your (possible) response.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Grit, Grit, same old shit - Ontario Liberals cut healthcare starting from very first 2004 budget

Here’s a little bit of babble from Liberal Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, made during the introduction of his first budget, when he announced the hated Liberal Health Tax (May 18, 2004, from the Ontario Legislative Assembly):

“We will be acting, as well, to ensure we have the doctors and nurses we need. By 2007-08, the number of assessment and training positions for international medical graduates will double. So will the number of clinical education spaces for nurse practitioners. Over the next four years, we will create 8,000 new full-time nursing positions. To protect nurses on the job today from injury, we will purchase 12,000 bed lifts for hospitals and long-term-care facilities in this very year. But most importantly, we will treat our nurses and all health care practitioners with respect.

These initiatives signal a substantial reorientation of health care toward a patient-focused, results-driven system that is sustainable. There will be more hospital beds available sooner for important procedures because more patients will be treated in home and community care. Changing the system will shorten wait times. So will the investments I have announced for those procedures Ontarians want and need the most: more doctors and nurses, better primary care, shorter wait times. That adds up to a healthier Ontario, but getting there won't be easy.

Today 45% of the province's program spending goes to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For the past five years, health care budgets in Ontario have grown by an average of 8% per year. We must begin to bring these costs under control. To improve cancer care, cardiac care, home care and long-term care, we have had to delist less critical services.

Beginning this fall, the province will no longer cover the cost of routine optometry examinations, except for seniors and Ontarians under the age of 20. We will no longer cover chiropractic and physiotherapy services, although seniors will continue to receive physiotherapy through home care and long-term-care facilities. These were not easy choices, but we believe they are the responsible choices.”

*

One can see the Liberal health care duplicity and outright lies being formed in 2004, promise after broken promise. Patients like Shona Holmes, or Lindsay McCreith, or Suzanne Aucoin, and a myriad other trusting Ontarians, had no idea of the Liberal health care authoritarianism which was in store for them.

Liberals enjoy spreading a perception that 'Harris cut health-care'; yet Sorbara himself said, in his own 2004 budget speech:
"For the past five years, health care budgets in Ontario have grown by an average of 8% per year."
That's right, read it again:
McGuinty's Liberals actually complained in 2004 that for five years, Harris spent too much on health-care, and the Liberals were now going to "control " that!

To improve” care, Liberals had “to delist” care, said Liberal health-care cutter, Greg Sorbara!

But, doesn't the arbitrary delisting of supposedly-“universal” health-services at the government’s whim defeat and contradict the entire concept of ‘universality’?!?
And this is the position of a Liberal government which controls the health-care monopoly in Ontario!

The Liberals (...right here, in their very first budget...) created two-tier health-care in Ontario: something which they always accused that Mike Harris might do, Dalton McGuinty actually did do.


In the Legislative assembly (Hansard L146A, 2005) here’s what Liberal hack Brad Duguid (Scarborough Centre) sputtered:

“John Tory doesn't know where he stands on health care. He won't tell the people of Ontario whether he plans to devastate our health care system immediately or whether he plans to devastate it over a long period of time. He owes it to the people of Ontario to fess up.” Powerfully stupid words, coming from a Liberal apparatchik whose own party turned out to be a bunch of liars.

Dalton McGuinty hasn’t told the people of Ontario when his Liberals are going to stop their devastation of Ontario’s health monopoly.

Locally in St. Catharines, McGuinty’s government refuses to investigate the high mortality rates in the Niagara Health System, said by CIHI to be the third-highest in Canada, and 35% above the national average.
The local Liberal apparatchik in St. Catharines, MPP Jim Bradley, has refused to publicly comment on the situation, since the CIHI report was released in Nov. 2007!
It’s Liberals such as Duguid, Bradley and McGuinty who ‘don’t know where they stand on health care’.

Elizabeth Witmer (Kitchener-Waterloo) asked George Smitherman:

“My question is for the Acting Premier. As you know, the unexpected $1.2 billion in revenues generated by Ontario businesses last year did give you the opportunity to help hard-working Ontarians. Rather than doing that, you continued to punish them by doubling the cost of your illegal health tax. We now know that hospitals are also going to be forced to make significant staff and program cuts because of the lack of a plan and your misspent priorities.

Despite the fact that revenues are higher, despite the fact that the OHA is going to have to make some cuts, why are you forcing Ontarians to pay double your illegal health tax this year, and yet they are getting less health care because you've privatized eye exams and chiropractic services?”

Here’s George Smitherman’s (also Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care) reply:

“The incoherence of the Tory party continues. With them, it comes down to this: Tory, Tory, same old story. Here they are one more time complaining out of one side of their mouth that there should be a reduction in the amount of revenue that the province takes in, and on the other hand calling for additional investments in essential public services.”

What is this health minister - a child? Talk about hypocrisy… this is the same slithery Smitherman who - despite having billions of tax dollars at his disposal – laughed off the NHS when the hospital system said they needed more funding. (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007) Yet in 2005 Smitherman was being asked the same pertinent questions about hospital funding, which still remain unanswered today, in 2008.

Meanwhile, patients at the NHS have been dying at an extraordinary rate, and the Liberals, despite five years of feel-good rhetoric and health-care posturing, refuse to reveal, or even investigate, why this is happening.

Is there a funding link? Is this the end result of Sorbara's 2004 statement where he said in the Legislature "we must begin to bring these [health-care] costs under control"?!

Despite glib Liberal {gliberal} promises, Ontario's long-term care bed shortage is getting worse, as today's Jan. 29, 2008 St.Catharines Standard wrote:

"A shortage of long term care and rehabilitation spaces across the province has become more severe over the past 18 months, so that almost one in every five acute-care hospitals beds is now occupied by a patient better served in another health care setting, the Ontario Hospital Association says.

OHA President Tom Closson told provincial pre-budget consultations that this "bottleneck" in health care means that an average of 680 patients are waiting in emergency rooms for beds at any given time in Ontario." {...and no, local St.Catharines Liberal Jim Bradley - as usual - was NOT interviewed by the St.Catharies Standard, about this!}

I wonder if MPP Jim Bradley can answer how many people in 2008 are waiting in the NHS on that basis, considering Sorbara's 2004 "better primary care, shorter wait times" boast.

Closson continued:
"With so many people waiting (in acute-care beds), patients who actually need to be admitted through the emergency department have to wait overnight or longer sometimes for days at a time."

Patients forced to wait overnight !?!

Patients forced to wait days at a time ?!?

Please, do not tell Michael Moore, who naively insists Ontario's sicko Liberal medicare system has ER waits faster than a pizza-delivery!

So much for Sorbara's 2004 pile of steaming-rubbish Liberal promises.
The shortage of beds has gotten worse under the Liberals - and they knew it, and ignored it, during the Oct. 2007 election.

To paraphrase the Great Slithery Smitherman, with Liberals, it comes down to this: Grit, Grit, same old shit.
*

Monday, January 28, 2008

Liberal health-care action: reviewing the reviews

Liberal MPP (St. Catharines) Jim J. Bradley once lamented about the “unprecedented arrogance on the part of the government” when in opposition, referring to a Conservative budget announcement which was made at a Magna auto plant.

But what are we to make of an arrogant MPP like Jim Bradley who refuses to answer constituent’s questions about his Liberal’s killer health-monopoly? What are we to make of the Liberal’s complete disregard regarding the revelations of the Nov.2007 CIHI report which indicated the Niagara Health System in Bradley’s backyard has the third highest patient mortality rate in Canada?

A phony Liberal supposedly-possible “review” of the NHS was mentioned, but it was not about the death rate, but about ‘organizational structure’!

By Jan.26, 2008, the St. Catharines Standard was reporting that now the Ministry of Health is asking the LHIN to do a review of the reviews that have been previously done on the NHS. (This is the same LHIN that was created by George Smitherman's Liberals to act as a smokescreen for the government’s health ministry). LHIN chair Juanita Gledhill, wrote the Standard, “said she didn’t know how many previous reviews are under examination.” {!!}

How many reviews have there been at this place?!?
Even the administrators seem to have no clue of all these reviews.
It seems like this Liberal health system is out of control. The NHS (once again) in this story said it doesn’t receive enough funding from the Liberal (single-payer-monopoly-enforcing) government, and is projecting a deficit of $16.1 and $14.9 million for the next two fiscal years.

Jim Bradley's Liberals have over two billion dollars in a budget surplus. They have also raked in billions of dollars more after imposing their Liberal Health Tax in 2004. Dalton McGuinty said he "needed" the money for health care - yet now, when the NHS says it needs more money - the Liberals turn away!
Liberal hack Jim Bradley hides from giving a full explanation of why his arrogant Liberal government is underfunding Niagara's hospital system (with the third highest mortality rate in Canada), and Bradley hides from calling an independent investigation into the operation of the NHS.

Shame.

Or is it negligence?
*

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Birds Before Dusk

[click photos to enlarge] Driving down Carlton St. just east of the Welland Canal on Jan.24, the road, on a sunny afternoon, was suddenly blacked out by a swirling black cloud of starlings. There were thousands of them, flying and swooping in a low, huge mass. At one point, I couldn't even see the road. I managed to take a picure of this phenomenonal flying flock of birds before they just as suddenly vanished.
Below is a sunset over Niagara's frozen vineyards, also taken today, Jan.24, 2008.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Health care is not McGuinty's priority in Niagara

Here’s a backgrounder from the Conservative 2007 campaign regarding health care:

“-Dalton McGuinty promised to hire 8,000 new nurses. He's hired only 5,400. More than 1,500 of them are in temporarypositions. And he spent $91 million to fire nearly 1,000 nurses. Now it's 2007 and, notwithstanding the fact that his original promise is short by thousands of nurses, Dalton McGuinty's new platform is promising to hire 9,000 more nurses.

- Dalton McGuinty promised to make sure that people got the health care the need when they need it, where they need it. In 2003, they said there were nearly one million Ontarians without a family doctor. Four years later there are still one million Ontarians without a family doctor. The number of areas designated as underserviced for family doctors was 122 in 2003. The number of areas designated as underserviced for family doctors is 142 in 2007. The percentage of doctors accepting new patients was 20.2 percent in 2003. The percentage of doctors accepting new patients was 9.6 percent in 2006.

- Dalton McGuinty promised standards for medically acceptable wait times. And he promised a wait times website that was "up-to-date" and "accurate." Ontarians are waiting nearly two months longer for hip replacements than is medically acceptable. Five months longer for knee replacements. Three months longer for MRIs. One month longer for CT scans. And in some areas, the wait is much longer - like in Kingston where the wait time is 727 days for a knee replacement.

- When Dalton McGuinty spent $2 million on an advertising campaign for the wait times website, Advertising Standards Canada said the ads were misleading. Mr. McGuinty was forced to pull the ads.

- Dalton McGuinty promised to "unclog ERs." Under his leadership, wait times in Ontario's emergency rooms have gone up - and Dalton McGuinty and his Minister of Health, George Smitherman have consistently and repeatedly rejected any and all attempts to have emergency rooms included in the wait times program.”

The above was true prior to the election, and is still true now, in January 2008.

We’ve seen, since the Liberal’s re-election, that they had to impose a superintendent at their newly built Brampton hospital, which was rife with transition problems, and where there were two more alleged patient wait-time related deaths.

We’ve seen the Niagara Health System revealed as having the third highest mortality rate in Canada, yet the Liberals refused to call in the Ombudsman to investigate this situation. When the NHS (the Liberal–funded health monopoly) said they needed more money, (see St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007) the flippant Liberal recommendation was that the NHS should simply cease their spending free-for-all, as George Smitherman, the authoritarian Health minister put it.

Keep in mind that the health minister of Ontario is saying this to a hospital in his government-run monopoly, where there is nowhere else for a patient to go to in Ontario, unless it's to Buffalo. (But please, again, do not tell Michael Moore how great Ontario's government-run monopoly health system is!)

Jim Bradley, the Liberal Lord Of Niagara, has said nothing at all (since the CIHI report was released at the end of Nov. 07) of the untenable situation at the NHS, which is right in his own backyard. The Liberals cooked up a red-herring scheme to placate the locals saying there was a possibility that they might review the organizational structure of the Niagara Health System, but would not investigate the underlying causes of the system’s high mortality rates.

Dalton McGuinty, the Liberal Premier, was just recently the guest editorial-page writer in the St. Catharines Standard (Jan.19, 2008) where, in an entire column (titled: “Our future lies in skills and education”), NOT ONCE did McGuinty mention the phrase “Health Care” .

You voted for the Liberals in Niagara…now your Liberals are telling you to FLICK OFF and die. Are you concerned about health care in Niagara? Well, it’s such a high Liberal ‘priority’, that it’s not worth mentioning

The hole in liberal logic

Re: “Canadian, eh? The hole truth”, article in the Toronto Star, Jan.20, 2008

Christine Sismondo, apparently with all sincerity, wrote that one characteristic of “what makes us Canadian” is “a shared distain [sic] of our neighbours to the south.”

Firstly, did this writer mean ‘disdain’?

Secondly, which monolithic “us” does Sismondo refer to, who have such a laughably biased attitude? Does her mythical “us” mainly consist of like-minded boorish Toronto Star readers, to whom such an assertion would be a naturally accepted dogma?

Sorry, I don’t subscribe to Sismondo’s blanket contention that Canadians define themselves by denigrating Americans.

Mostly, that's the department of Canada's NDPeers and the Liberals. It's in their DNA, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Incredible Liberal Jim Bradley

Ian Urquhart predicted in “Best bets for a McGuinty cabinet team”, (Toronto Star, Sept.28, 2003), that Liberal Jim Bradley would be named McGuinty’s Energy minister. “Bradley (St. Catharines) will have credibility as he explains why the coal-fired plants are still spewing out pollution while the government searches for alternatives.”

Well, Bradley did not become Energy Minister, and Bradley did not have credibility when it came to his Liberal government’s energy policies. The same plants that were “spewing” then, as Ian Urqhuart writes, are still spewing five years and two elections later – while Bradley's Liberal government “searches for alternatives.”

Jim Bradley has done nothing about the pollution from his Liberal government’s coal plants. The Lakeview plant in Mississauga was closed, but that process was begun under the previous Conservatives, and would have occurred regardless.

Urquhart wrote in another story (Toronto Star, Jun.10, 2002), that Bradley was a member of an all-party Legislature select committee on alternative fuel sources, which was formed in 2001 by the Conservative government. One of the committee's recommendations, released in 2002, clearly called for the phasing out of all coal-fired generating stations in the province by the year 2015.

But in 2003, McGuinty and his Liberals during their election campaign were peddling the promised target of 2007, 'come hell or high water', knowing that it was impossible to do so, in the absence of equivalent alternatives, without calamitous results.

Maybe Urquhart can revisit his platitudes about Bradley’s credibility (still waiting, Ian). Bradley’s Liberals have wasted (they say invested) millions on marginally-performing wind projects, and on gas plants – which still produce greenhouse emissions. The Liberals haven’t bothered to put cleaner emission filters on the existing coal plants, or, invest in reliable clean coal technology.

Bradley’s Liberal ideologues lied through their teeth that they would shut down all of the coal plants by 2007.

Incredibly, Jim Bradley has NOT explained why his Liberal government's coal plants are still spewing out pollution.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Farming in a closed bubble

Kate-Andres-Toal wrote in “Support our farmers by buying local”, (St. Catharines Standard, Jan.17, 2008) that “we’re in serious trouble, folks”…there’s a food “crisis” a-comin’, where we’ll be “faced with empty fridges and dead communities.” This is because we don’t support local farmers: “Another farm gone, another development we don’t need built over rich soil we can’t afford to waste.”

This is the fearsome, alarmist tone for the rest of the article. What, hasn’t Toal heard of Jim Bradley’s Greenbelt? Is she saying that Liberal legislation is NOT working…or is she saying it’s weak?! The farmland, according to the Liberals, is 'protected’! But, the farmer and the actual farm…? That’s a story the Liberals should tell us more about.

“Without local farmers, there will be no local food, and that means no future for our communities”, Toal states. Oh, come on.

“Society is blind to it,” she quotes a farmer saying. “Every time we buy strawberries from California or cheap tomatoes from Mexico for the sake of convenience, we are intensifying the problem,” Toal preaches.

Wow: so "convenience" is not a satisfactory consumer choice for Toal? How about buying for the sake of taste, or quality, or variety, or price, or even plain availability, for that matter?

Locally grown bananas and oranges aren’t available in Niagara. [Unless Al Gore, David Suzuki and Stephane Dion (the Gorzukions), pick up the pace of their airline flights so as to speed up that man-made global warming of theirs]

If a Mexican tomato is well-priced and better tasting than a local cardboard tomato, should we forced to buy the tasteless one? (or vice-versa) We do have to compare, as they say, apples to apples: seasonality, availability, variety, etc. Then there is the perishability factor of fresh produce, vs. the value-added factor of processing and packaging such produce for sale at a later time, or in a different place. And of course, there’s always the whim of the local weather…

In 2007, when early California strawberries arrived at the stores, they were wonderful, very tasty, and well-packaged in a see-thru breathable closed clam shell. As the season wore on, the Ontario berries then also arrived, of course, mostly locally grown. The difference was amazing: the Ontario berries were paltry looking, many of them squished in their green cardboard open-top containers, which spilled all over the display and the floor, leaving them half-empty. The berries were also dirty-looking, unwashed, caked with field mud. And, most amazingly, the Ontario berries were MORE expensive than the imports from thousands of clicks away.
Toal asks that we redefine what is “necessary”: “do you really need strawberries in January?” .
Toal treads on totalitarian terrain, fielding fancies of food fascism.
If consumers want strawberries in winter - so what? Should we be forced to buy whatever bruised offerings get thrown our way? Should we be limited to eating only local products? The self-righteous and the indignant will have another Mother Earth cause to rally about on this...yet the debate has been going on for decades in Niagara.

I’ve seen people waste money buying supposedly “organic” local cherries only to discover that they had white worms. I’ve seen farmers who could not find, let alone afford, farm workers…work that’s utterly unthinkable and beneath respect for a snobbish Ontario majority. Imported labour does our work!
I knew a hobby farmer on a once-typical small Niagara fruit acreage of grapes, apples, plums and pears; a lot of work went into maintaining those vineyards and orchards. No-one but the closest family - and reluctantly at that - would bother to come help for the harvests as they occurred throughout the year.
Yet when the farmer visited friends in the city, they would always say 'oh did you happen to bring a bushel of pears with you'?! As if the fruit was gown, tended, and picked expressly to be transported to the city, brought to their door, and then given away!!
Though the fruit would have been free to any friends who bothered to come and spend several hours picking, even that was not an incentive. Not wanting to see the orchards and vineyard go wild, the hobby farmer maintained them for the pleasure and the stewardship; most of the fruit was never picked. It just wasn't worth it, even free.

Protectionism and profitability is a two-way street. When your goal is to ban/restrict/overly regulate imports by trade intervention - you might find that your exports are treated in kind – if not in one industry, then in another.
Has Toal considered the terrible toll of her touted tyranny?

Not every local person has a penchant for Niagara ice wine, for example, although it is top-notch. So should we limit - or better yet, outright ban - its export to other areas? We certainly can choose local products, and be loyal to a certain individual extent. It's not a new concept. We should have choice as consumers, in our marketshare. But we have to innovate and build on our strengths. So, we need to find successful export markets; sustainability based on this "locavore" fad is quaint, but unrealistic. How local is local? Why a hundred km radius? What happens when the government decrees it to be fifty km, then, eventually, you’ll be limited to eating the politically correct diet which grows only in summer just in your backyard, where you can't even trade with your neighbours?? You can’t have a healthy economy within a closed bubble.

We need competition, not protectionism. Much of the Greenbelt lands sit “protected”, yet under used. What is that worth?

The same day as Toal’s article came out, William Watson wrote (in “Close more farms!”, National Post, Jan.17, 2008) that “'Buy local' is just the latest bid for protection from our tiny, shrinking agricultural sector.” Watson wrote “In absolute terms, half a per cent of GDP [which is what farmers actually sell] is a lot of economic activity. But it’s hardly the economic cornerstone – the vital lynchpin – farming’s advocates so often proclaim it to be.”

Watson even lists seven reasons not to grow our own food.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ban the liberals, as well

In the Toronto Sun (Jan.16, 2008) Dalton McGuinty said: “I think we should ban handguns. We have an opportunity now to distance ourselves from our American cousins, to establish a different kind of gun culture here north of the border.”

Dalton does it again: a nice self-righteous Liberal poke at Americans, while huffing and puffing about a holier-than-thou ban (which we already have).

Of course, Toronto’s pathetic pinko Mayor David Miller parroted the line also, as he regularly does, to show that somehow his talking about guns will solve the gun violence in his city. The St. Catharines Standard (Jan.19, 2008), wrote “Toronto Mayor David Miller, who plans to talk to Ontario’s attorney general and U.S. ambassador David Wilkins about the gun issue, demanded to know why the federal Conservatives haven’t yet imposed a total ban on handguns or hired 2,500 new police officers, as promised.”

Hire new police officers?! This is rich indeed, coming from Miller, who in the 2003 mayoralty race repeatedly REFUSED TO HIRE MORE COPS FOR TORONTO! David Miller didn’t want to hire more police, saying it would be "incredibly expensive"! (Toronto Star, Nov.5, 2003)

What a hypocrite! How’s Miller’ s basketball-court-building and hug-a-thugging coming along? Miller had a choice to support, years ago, when it would have made a difference, calls for Toronto to budget for at least 400 new police officers. Miller refused on ideological grounds, couched in faux-fiscal concern. We have all seen the unrestrained city spending orgy that followed under Miller, where no pet lefty cause was left unfunded.

Add another doofus to the mix, and you get the Three-D’s (no, not dumb, dumber, and dumbest, but close): David, Dalton, and of course, Dion, Canada's own International Man of Embarrassment. (Liberal leader Stephane Dion, astoundingly, still naively parrots the old liberal pre-9-11 chestnut that terrorism is a matter for police, not the military. Frightening.)

Here’s what Lorne Gunter wrote in “Hollow symbols don’t reduce crime”, (National Post, Oct.29, 2007):

“There is probably nothing more tenacious than a liberal with a bad idea; witness Stephane Dion's reference to the firearms registry in his response to the Throne Speech.

"The work of our police officers and the safety of our citizens would be threatened by the absolute dismantling of the gun registry," Mr. Dion claimed after the Harper government had promised to once again seek the repeal of the national database of firearms.

Too bad for Mr. Dion the national homicide stats came out the same day and once again demonstrated just how useless the Liberals' registry has been at preventing gun murders.

Too bad for taxpayers and gun owners that not even proof of the registry's futility is likely to persuade Mr. Dion to end his support of it.

There were 605 murders in Canada last year, more (210) committed through stabbings than with guns (190).

That in and of itself may have no bearing on the registry's ability to stop crime, although it does beg the question: If supporters of the registry are motivated by a sincere desire to reduce crime -- and are not simply inspired by some irrational hatred of guns -- why are these busybodies not pushing equally hard for a knife/stiletto/ice pick/letter opener registry? Surely what's good for the Glock is equally good for the Henkel. (Of course, it could also be the reverse: what seems instantly preposterous to us for tableware should equally instantly be obviously ineffectual for guns.)

What does bear on the registry's lack of utility, though, are the figures on what guns are used to commit murder in Canada, who owns them and whether or not they are registered.
According to Statistics Canada "handguns accounted for 108, or over half, of the 190 victims killed by a firearm." Twenty-four more were killed with a sawed-off shotgun or rifle. Together, that's 70% of the total.

Why is that important? Because sawed-off guns are illegal and Canadians have been required to register their handguns since 1934. A registry will never prevent crimes committed by illegal guns since, by definition, illegal guns will never be registered. And, if registration were capable of lowering gun crime, the first place we would see the benefits is with handguns.

Yet even though handguns have had to be registered for the past 73 years, handguns have out murdered "long guns" since 1991 and, according to StatsCan, "the gap has continued to grow since."

Registration has done nothing to keep handguns from becoming the murderer's firearm of choice.

It is also important to note that most handguns used in crimes have never been registered because they are owned by criminals who pay smugglers to bring them into the country illegally. So even if some way could be found to help registration reduce crime, our registry would have little impact on the greatest source of gun murders --handguns.

Of the 48 guns recovered by police at murder scenes in 2006, just 18 (38%) were registered.
It is not hard to imagine, either, that most of the 142 murder guns not recovered were also not registered. Handguns are less likely to be left behind at the scene of the crime because they are easy to conceal while getting away, criminals favour handguns and most of criminals' handguns are never registered. So it is entirely likely that of all the firearms used in homicides the total percentage that were registered is far less than 38%.

If that is true, it adds even more credence to the claim that registration is not a crime-reduction tool.

Gun registration is one of those hollow symbols that liberals introduce when they want to claim to be doing something to stop crime but are ideologically opposed to doing what might actually work.

Mr. Dion and his Liberals have blocked Tory attempts to lock up three-time violent offenders longer, impose minimum sentences on criminals who use guns and make bail harder to win for persons accused of gun crimes.

Such real measures make Liberals cringe because they refuse to believe criminals have any responsibility for their actions and, thus, resist attempts to punish the convicted. Instead, to show their commitment to law and order, Liberals prefer to blame inanimate objects and harass those object's legal owners.”

*
Ban the gun. Hug the thug. Bail not jail. No time for crime...the 3-D bobble-heads all sing that tune.

Jim 'Bafflegab' Bradley's Liberal de-congestant

The St. Catharines Standard story, “GO unveils more powerful, fuel-efficient locomotives” (Jan.16, 2008), reported on Niagara’s Own Boy Jimbo Bradley, our Hon. Blusterer of Transportationmanship.

“Transportation Minister Jim Bradley said the new locomotives will help GO Transit increase ridership from its current level of about 30,000 passengers each weekday. “Up to 30,000 more passengers every day, once all 27 locomotives are in service” Bradley said.”

The famous Bradley Bafflegab can be seen in its blustery, disingenuous glory: not one of those trains will be picking passengers up in Niagara, though…right, Jim?

Bradley said: “This is a sound investment that will pay Ontarians back for generations to come by reducing congestion on our roads and improving the air that we breathe.”

It’s magic hearing the spin flow, like soothing anaesthetic, from Bradley’s mouth…it’s the same kind of Liberal crap Bradley and McGuinty were spewing in Niagara eight years ago, when they were doing their ‘we’ll bring GO trains to Niagara act”. The air will be cleaner!! The roads will be clearer!! We are your political de-congestant!! Vote now, vote often!!

Just prior to the last election in Oct. 07, Jim Bradley again teased St. Catharines that he would bring the GO train to Niagara. Barely a couple of weeks after he won (sadly) – suddenly his promise morphed into maybe a FLICKING GO bus; and who knows when, at that.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bumbledore Dion: 'terrorism is a police matter'

Some excerpts from Jason Cherniak on the blog Cherniak On Politics, Jan.17, 2008:

“It seems that the Conservative Party of Canada and their Conservative media friends are intent on creating an international incident by misquoting St├ęphane Dion. I suppose that when nothing is going right, the only thing these Conservatives know how to do is smear the opposition and hope to confuse enough people that Conservative problems are minimized.” and

“However, when dealing with international relations, the safety of Canadians overseas and the possible use of force in a nuclear state, our government officials have a duty to be extra careful. Peter MacKay and the Conservative Government should be ashamed for trying to create an international incident out of an unclear news report. What they are doing in this case defies all known tradition in Canadian politics. Their primary goal should be to reassure Pakistan that no Canadian political leader is actually proposing an invasion of Pakistan!”

*
It seems that the “Conservative media friends” [capital ‘C’, no less!] such as the Niagara Falls Review must also be part of this “smear” campaign against Dion. The Jan.17, 2008 Review purposefully published a Canadian Press story, which obviously must have 'mis-quoted' Dion, in their story headlined “NATO intervention in Pakistan could be necessary: Dion”.

The Review’s story quoted Stephane Dion saying: “The war against terrorism is mainly a police matter.”

Can you believe that anyone would purport that Stephane Dion would still use that line, so popular with the left pre-911, today?

How dare they put words in his mouth, when what Dion said was: “The war against terrorism is mainly a police matter.”

Honestly, who do you think is confused?? And this is from a Liberal leader who was at the front lines, with the army, several days ago!

It’s laughable to believe Cherniak's assertion that the Canadian government’s primary role is to reassure Pakistan that the fumbling Bumbledore leader of its Opposition party is or isn’t proposing an invasion of Pakistan.

One would think maybe Dion would have the ability to assess his priorities and consider their repercussions before supposedly-brilliant ideas pop out of his mouth.

How can anyone be 'reassured', when they can't anticipate, let alone understand, what it exactly is that Dion means to say?

As soon as the Great Liberal Savant Dion has another one of his Grand Utterances, apologists like Coderre or Cherniak have to leap up to 'interpret' for us lesser mortals what the Chosen One actually tried to say.

On the CBC National news (Jan.17, 2008), when Peter Mansbridge gave Dion a chance to explain his Pakistan-NATO-intervention notion, Dion simply stammered and looked stunned, eventually saying that in fact he had no solution, there was no magic bullet! It was an embarrassing interview, all the more so because Dion was exposed as trapped, with a lot of bluster but no answers, on that 'Conservative media friend', the CBC.

Does anyone remember the other knee-slapper of a CBC interview Dion had with Evan Solomon on Sunday Report, just after Dion was elected leader at the convention?...it was classic Dion mumbo-jumbo, which perfectly foreshadowed his consequent slide into irrelevance.

The primary goal of the Liberal Party, before they implode on another Dion-IED, is to reassure Canadians that their party elected a leader who is able to govern. And that would be one mighty magic trick to pull off.

Dion should explain himself, not only to other Canadians, but to the Pakistanis as well: Exactly how is the war on terrorism mainly a police matter? (Without using crib notes from Deputy Iggy “Nadia”-tieff)

But you know, there are more pressing issues at hand than wasting time listening to Dion’s Liberal nonsense.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Winds of change in Niagara

[click photo to enlarge]
Driving on the QEW Buffalo-bound through Niagara Falls this afternoon, Jan.17, 2008, you could see and smell the smoke coming off a construction site just before Montrose Rd. Turns out another housing development is going up, the land was being cleared of all the trees, and the brush was being burned in a couple of smouldering piles. Life goes on.

Liberal Stephane Dion's Top Secret Mission to Niagara revealed!

The Niagara Falls Review (Jan.17, 2008, pg.A10) carried a story headlined: “NATO intervention in Pakistan could be necessary: Dion.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion, who just returned from Afghanistan, where he was agitating for Canada’s troops to leave, suddenly announced that his answer to solving the NATO mission in Afghanistan is to start another NATO front within Pakistan.

Dion has truly outed himself as the fumbling ‘Bumbledore’ of the Liberal dynasty.

Dion also complained that the government revealed his schedule - while he was already in Afghanistan.

Did Dion read the Niagara Falls Review story, also on Jan.17, 2008, but earlier on page A5, where the Review ‘reveals’ that:

Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion will be in Niagara Saturday to meet with party members. Dion will address the crowd at 7:30 a.m. at the Quality Inn Parkway Hotel Convention Centre in St. Catharines. Tickets are $20.”

Got that…Saturday morning, Jan.19, hotel, St. Catharines, twenty bucks?

Will Dion complain about this ‘revelation’?

Why can’t the people of Afghanistan, whom Dion wants Canada to abandon, enjoy the same open privilege of peacefully attending a Dion rally as the people of Niagara?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Trouble ahead for Niagara's fruit industry?

Let's not picture this alternative for Niagara's fruit farms. [click photo to enlarge]

On Jan.12, 2008, the St. Catharines Standard carried a story about the announcement that the St. David’s, Ont., CanGro fruit processing plant (which makes Del Monte, Aylmer and Ideal brands), and which apparently is the only fruit processor in Canada east of the Rockies, is set to be closed, impacting “sixteen hundred acres of land.”

“Future of local fruit industry looks bleak”, the Standard’s pg. A4 headline read; the front page headline was “We need a plan”.

Jim Bradley didn't provide much of a solution, other than that another buyer should be found. Transitioning from fruit to grapes and setting up replant programs seems to be the government answer. The Standard wrote: “As for the replant program, Queen’s Park is waiting for Ottawa to make its move.”

The best that Liberal-run Queens Park, and Bradley, the so-called Champion of Niagara, can do…is wait ?! That’s the leadership Bradley brings to Niagara?

Not long ago, Bradley’s Liberals gave Ontario’s auto industry half a billion dollars - why doesn’t Bradley provide the cash to simply have the Ontario government buy the plant, and run a state-subsidized fruit processing and retailing facility?

Cloaked in some appropriate ‘GreenSpeak’ enviro-mumbo-jumbo, he could pull it off. Save the farmer – become the farmer. Save the plant – buy the plant.

The new “FRUITARIO” brand can exist as a ward under the auspices of at least a dozen different government ministries. They wouldn’t even notice the expense!

Having already halted farmland development by “protecting” it with the Greenbelt, the Liberals could now start to expropriate, at pennies on the dollar, of course, the supplier’s fruit farms, and hire the farmers as State workers on their former farms. The government can subsidize the labour, the marketing, the transportation, the equipment, the packaging and all the associated land stewardship, as only a government knows how. What, no?

Len Troup, the chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers marketing Board was dismal in his assessment of the situation. Wrote the Standard: “By removing tariffs on imported canned foods more than a decade ago, the government opened the floodgates to cheaper food from around the globe, Troup said”. Was Troup referring to the Liberal federal government of Chretien, or the previous federal Conservatives? Is that a poke at free trade? (Now re-packaged as “fair trade”)

Free trade was a great and arduous challenge for the grape industry in the late 1980’s, a challenge which the growers and wine makers rose to successfully meet. Liberals, under John Turner federally, and under premier David Peterson provincially, were against free trade, preferring protectionism instead.

Now, Liberals like Jim Bradley, a former Peterson cabinet minister, admit (kinda...as if they're surprised) free trade was good for the wine industry. “Jim recognized that the wine industry has responded well to Free Trade by improving the product and making the tourism component a priority”, wrote the Rotary Club of St. Catharines website, Jan.12, 2006. Jim said the wine industry responded well…but Jim didn’t say how his Liberals opposed and disparaged free trade. In effect…the wine industry did well - DESPITE Jim Bradley’s best efforts to interfere. Who knows what the alternative would have been had Bradley’s Liberals had their protectionist way in the 80’s.

A decade ago, here is how Bradley played it, bashing the Conservatives whenever possible. From the OLA Apr.28,1997:

“Mr. James J. Bradley (St. Catharines): Already reeling from the proposed implementation of a disastrous change in assessment of cottage wineries by the Harris government, people in the grape and wine industry will not welcome the news that the Conservative regime has taken another step towards widespread privatization of services for the people of the province, including the possible privatization of the LCBO.
With the reality of the impact of the Canada-US free trade agreement and the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the grape growers and wine producers of Niagara and southwestern Ontario need the LCBO more than ever to allow fair promotion of our product in their stores across Ontario, particularly when our wine faces stiff and often unfair competition from offshore producers.
The total sales value of wine from Ontario is $257 million. For every $10 million in wine sales, there's $14.8 million in economic activity in Ontario, according to a Deloitte and Touche study. Total wine industry related employment is 4,000; the value of grape purchases in 1996, $20 million; acreage for grapes in Ontario, 18,000; 200,000 visitors attracted to the Niagara wine region during special summer events.
There are dozens of reasons not to privatize the LCBO, and the future of our grape and wine industry, in which the government of Ontario in the 1980s invested tens of millions of dollars, is one of the most important.”

“Unfair competition”? Will Bradley be using that similar argument regarding CanGro now, in 2008, when his Liberals are in power?

Note to Jim: If only we had a Fruit Control Board of Ontario…yes, a FCBO…like with the LCBO; like with OHIP: we could form a monopoly and ban competition forever!! I remember the Liberals, under Peterson, saying they were going to allow beer and wine sales in corner stores. (Toronto Star, Oct.11, 1986) Instead, they “invested” millions into the LCBO retail monopoly, not in a competitive retail model.

Let’s look at Bradley’s performance in the OLA, regarding the grape and wine industry, May.6, 1997:

“Mr. James J. Bradley (St. Catharines): The grape and wine industry is of immense benefit to Ontario as a whole and to the Niagara region and southwestern Ontario in particular. That is why the repressive tax policy of the Conservative government of Mike Harris must be changed to provide our wineries with a fair opportunity to compete on a level playing field with producers around the world.
The news that the efforts of the Liberal caucus and representatives of Ontario wineries might be having an effect on the provincial government is encouraging, but the final details will be the proof required.
By making representations to the finance and economic affairs committee of the Ontario Legislature, the Ontario Wine Council has chosen an appropriate forum, consideration of Bill 106 on municipal assessment, to bring to the government's attention this lack of wisdom of assigning an industrial assessment category to our wineries. An amendment to Bill 106 may be the way to solve this dilemma, as long as it restores an agricultural designation for municipal taxation purposes.
I am again calling upon the Harris government to abandon this unwise and punitive measure affecting estate wineries in Ontario and to return to the farm assessment model, which is far more appropriate to estate wineries and consistent with similar operations across the province. The fate of our grape and wine industry is in the hands of the provincial government and only the abandonment of this disastrous taxation policy is acceptable.”

But isn’t the fate of the tender fruit industry also “in the hands of the provincial government” today…Bradley's Liberal government? And when Jim talks about “regressive” taxes, we need only look at what his Liberals have schemed up since 2003.

So what is Bradley going to do in 2008 (besides wait)?

The Standard wrote: “The province keeps making it more expensive for farmers to do business, with a spiking minimum wage and more stringent regulations, he [Troup] said.”

Did Bradley and his provincial Liberals not have anything to do with those issues also?!

The Standard wrote: “Many of our people will say if it’s wide open competition and if they have to compete with jurisdictions that have bad environmental and labour records, it’s going to be a major challenge for them to be able to compete on price,” Bradley said.”

Bad environmental” records…does Bradley mean his own Liberal’s bad environmental record, which Greenpeace called “laughable”? Does Bradley refer to Ontario’s coal-fired, pollution-spewing power plants, that his Liberals lied about closing? And which in the meantime, are not even being remediated by the Liberals with scrubbers? Is Bradley referring maybe to his Liberal government’s refusal to implement California-style emission caps in Ontario (as Quebec did, St. Catharines Standard, Dec.12, 2007)? Did Jim Bradley also not have direct bearing on those environmental policies, which are now creating “a major challenge” for growers to compete on price?

Isn’t it possible that a P3 arrangement can be implemented to float the plant for another growing season, under a receiver, while due diligence is made for eventual sale? The factory, though quite old, and the land it’s on, must be worth something, let alone the upside of future potential sales. If shares were offered, in some kind of limited-partnership (or co-op) type arrangement, I would be willing to buy into that.

There must be a profitable market out there for Niagara grown fruit. I believe that there are still more options which have not yet been explored.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Liar's Pledge?

[click on photo to enlarge]
Writing this in January of 2008, I thought back to the election campaign promises made by Dalton McGuinty and his Ontario Liberals. There were no health care problems in Liberal Ontario (apparently) in 2007, and all was quiet on the medicare front under the helm of General Stonewall Smitherman. Let's remember what the McGuinty Liberals were saying:

"McGuinty pledges not to raise taxes" was the headline in the National Post, June 4, 2007. Another headline in the St. Catharines Standard , September 7, 2007, read: " 'I need that money': premier, McGuinty again vows not to raise taxes ".

Another photo in the National Post (Sept.25, 2007, pg. A20) shows a smiling, opportunistic Dalton, prior to his first election, pen in hand, signing his taxpayer protection promise on Sept.11, 2003... a promise which he promptly broke upon gaining power: it was all Harris's fault, y'see! In the accompanying story, Kevin Gaudet wrote in "Dalton McGuinty, Taxoholic", (National Post, Sept.25, 2007): "When Mr. McGuinty and the Liberals came in to power, total tax revenue for 2004 was $49.1 billion in Ontario. Four years later, it has ballooned to $64.3 billion. In other words, total tax revenue has increased by 31% in four years - three times the rate of inlation." Gaudet noted: "Mr. McGuinty now refers to tax cuts as "trinkets and baubles."" Yet in Dec. of 2007, McGuinty announced a $1.1 billion tax-cut...while the Niagara Health System (with the third-highest death rate in Canada) pleaded publicly -to deaf Liberal ears - that it needed more money.

How do you think this movie sequel, the Great Lying McGuinty, Part Two, will end? Was McGuinty already fibbing about not raising taxes in Ontario, in advance of his re-election?

It's pretty much a foregone conclusion, isn't it? Remember these articles in a couple of years, when Ontarians will be saying 'I can't believe we believed him'.


Towns forced to find doctors while Liberals look away

The National Post wrote in “A boost in pay and the doctor will stay, MD recruitment” (Jan.14, 2008), of “towns offering money, homes to lure physicians”, due to Canada's doctor shortage. "It is estimated that as many as five million Canadians are without a family physician".

If Ontario towns are offering money or homes to physicians, why isn’t such municipal activity being challenged by Health Minister George Smitherman under his Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act?

Why should a mayor and council have the right to bribe doctors to their town with financial incentives, yet individual residents are forbidden by law to pay a doctor for their own medical care?

Why should municipalities be forced to cover for the Liberal’s mis-managed health-care policies?
What’s next…local city halls sourcing and paying for surgeries, while Smitherman looks the other way?

Talk about creeping, indirect taxation and the blurring of boundaries!

Premier Dalton McGuinty and George Smitherman are responsible for Ontario's health care monopoly.

They must be held to account.

Shuffling off to Buffalo in Jim Bradley's carpool

This is from the Ontario Legislative Assembly (Dec.23, 1999):

"Mr. James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. "Whereas patients requiring eye care in Niagara are faced with a shortage of ophthalmologists and as a result, are compelled to wait several weeks to secure an appointment with an ophthalmologist; "Whereas, while the shortage of ophthalmologists is in existence, the removal of the billing cap on these medical specialists provides a temporary but essential easing of the health care crisis; "Whereas the solution of the Ontario Ministry of Health removing the exemptions from the billing cap and forcing patients from Niagara to travel along the very busy Queen Elizabeth Highway to receive treatment in Hamilton is unacceptable; "Be it resolved that the Ontario Ministry of Health remove the cap on billing for ophthalmologists in Niagara until such time as Niagara is no longer an underserviced area." I affix my signature as I'm in complete agreement with this petition."

How interesting that healthcare in Bradley’s mind can simply be rationed by government tricks and intervention with legislation, 'temporarily' favouring one region, then, arbitrarily favouring another. This kind of manipulative, last-gasp, centralist, statist market interference is Bradley and his Liberal’s hallmark.

Bradley in this single petition essentially admits that billing caps are/were a failed government construct which contributed to the shortages that the caps were originally supposedly intended to prevent! So his cure is to revert to a pre-extra-billing solution, thereby making a hypocritical mockery of his own Liberal 'rationale' (if you want to be gracious and call it that) to impose caps in the first place! That pathetic Liberal attempt to postpone reality lasted only, what, ten years, before shortages and wait times grew?

The Liberals vilified, bashed and demonized the medical profession, especially during Bradley's stint with premier David Peterson. We're still suffering now, in 2008. Bradley is not just some aw, shucks bystander in this planned assault against the medical profession - he was a cabinet minister in the Liberal government. He was part of the problem.

Why doesn't Bradley re-submit his petition again in 2008, using his own example, re-worded to include all patients for all procedures in all of Ontario?! ie:

- Whereas patients, victims of medicare's state-run monopoly, requiring medical care in Ontario, are compelled to wait months for supposedly-insured services which our Liberal government cannot deliver on a medically-timely basis;
- Whereas Ontario's ombudsman has found Liberal-delivered healthcare a "cruel game";
- Whereas shuffling patients off to Buffalo down a busy QEW to receive treatment in the States, and not in Ontario, as ostensibly promised, is unacceptable;
- Be it resolved that the OHIP single-payer health monopoly shall be opened to competition, and that presently-banned private health insurance contracts be restored as a lawful choice to all Ontario citizens.

C'mon, Jim...or are you going to wait for the courts to decide for you?

With all those Sabres games Bradley supposedly attends, maybe he should be carpooling Ontario patients, who are waiting for health-care, along with him to Buffalo.

How about another hypocritical Bradley opposition petition, from the Ontario Legislature Assembly (Jun.12, 2001) :

"Mr James J. Bradley (St. Catharines): I have a petition that is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: "Whereas the nurses of Ontario are seeking relief from heavy workloads, which have contributed to unsafe conditions for patients and have increased the risk of injury to nurses; and "Whereas there is a chronic nursing shortage in Ontario; and "Whereas the Ontario government has failed to live up to its commitment to provide safe, high quality care for patients; "We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly as follows: "We demand the Ontario government take positive action to ensure that our communities have enough nursing staff to provide patients with the care they need. The Ontario government must: "Ensure wages and benefits are competitive and value all nurses for their dedication and commitment; ensure there are full-time and regular part-time jobs available for nurses in hospitals, nursing homes and the community; ensure government revenues fund health care, not tax cuts; and ensure front-line nurses play a key role in health reform decisions." I affix my signature, as I'm in complete agreement with this petition."

Does Jim Bradley really mean to say at the end there: 'I affix my signature as if I'm in complete agreement with this position'? Because the Liberal thing to do is pretend as if you are solving problems?

Will Jim Bradley stand up and issue this same petition in 2008, now that he and his Liberals are the government, and the nursing problems still have not been solved? Now that his own government has funded tax cuts, not health care?

The Dec.21, 2006 National Post reported that there was a 92% increase in wait times for cataract surgery in the Niagara Health System – and this in Bradley’s backyard. McGuinty also admitted: “The fact of the matter is cancer surgery wait times are up overall by 6.2%.”

Then a year later came the shocking NHS mortality rate revelations, yet Liberal MPP Jim Bradley… is missing in action.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Liberals ignore call for health-monopoly investigation

To the attention of St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley:

A Toronto Star story, “McGuinty seeks more cash” (Jan. 11, 2008) illustrates that even when sitting on a $2.5 billion surplus, Ontario’s Liberals always seem to demand more cash.

Interestingly, Premier Dalton McGuinty politicizes his demands for federal handouts saying: “Either the need is urgent or it is not…If it’s urgent, then you take all steps to ensure that the money flows unconditionally.”

Yet, when the Niagara Health System said it needed more money (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007), Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman all but accused the NHS of being profligate spenders who must live within their means. Why is this kind of Liberal health-care duplicity being applied to the NHS, which a Nov.2007 CIHI report revealed as having the third-worst mortality rate in Canada?

Is the health-care "need" not "urgent" in Niagara?

How many more patients must die before Ontario's Liberals finally take the situation in Niagara seriously?

If McGuinty believes federal funding should flow “unconditionally” to his Liberals, why aren't his Liberals “unconditionally” flowing funds to the NHS?

The NHS made it clear that it needs more money, yet did Smitherman “take all steps to ensure that the money flows unconditionally” to the NHS?

Smitherman lectured: "I do think the Niagara Health System likes to rely a little bit too much on the idea that it's all about money, and I think that's a fallacy. I think (that argument) can become a little too relied upon. What it kind of suggests is the only thing that's the answer to health-care woes is a fiscal free-for-all, spend whatever you want." (St. Catharines Standard, Dec. 7, 2007)

Smitherman does not specify where this alleged health care “fiscal free-for-all” is occurring in the NHS, nor does Smitherman specify or recommend exactly which programs the NHS should spend less on. The fact is: Patients are dying in the NHS at a rate 35% higher than the national average, yet Ontario’s health minister stonewalls and blames the institution, providing absolutely no answers himself.

Ontario’s health care system is a monopoly legislated by the Liberals whereby it is illegal for patients to pay for their care. Smitherman claims the NHS "likes to rely"' on money, disingenuously ignoring the fact that the NHS is forced "to rely" solely on his ministry's funding allocations. Smitherman has placed conditions on a system which his own Liberals have unconditionally rendered incapable of pursuing alternative options.

This hypocritical catch-22 demonstrates the severity of Liberal health-care demagoguery in Ontario, if not outright state health-care terrorism. What alternatives are available to the health system's individual institutions, let alone to the individual patients within, who are trapped like hostages in this no-choice Liberal labyrinthe?

I wrote the following letter to the editor, “Ombudsman should target health care next”, which appeared in the St. Catharines Standard, Jan.12, 2008:

“The Niagara Health System was recently the focus of two issues.

First, a report found the NHS to have abnormally high patient death rates.

Second, the Liberals announced they are considering a “review” of the NHS – not, as one would expect, of its high death rates, but about its organization structure.

St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley called this potential organizational review “routine stuff”, but astoundingly, said nothing of his health monopoly’s poor performance. The Liberals clearly pretended there was no link.

Bradley should have immediately called for an investigation to examine the abnormally high patient mortality rates. It was disingenuous and irresponsibly partisan of him to not have done so.

Remember in June 2001, when Bradley, in opposition, presented a petition in the legislature blustering mightily that he wants to ensure government revenues fund health services, not tax-cuts? Yet this past December, Bradley’s governing Liberals announced $1.1 billion in tax cuts. Will hypocrite Jim Bradley demand that his own government fund health care, not tax cuts today?

The NHS, in Bradley’s own riding, said “we need to have more money.” Yet, Bradley’s Liberals have not only raked in billions with their hated health tax, they’re also sitting on a $2.5 billion surplus. So where’s the health-tax money gone? How much longer will this Liberal health-care duplicity continue?

In December, the Ontario auditor uncovered a host of disturbing health-care problems – system wide. There is now a health-care charter challenge before the Ontario court. Ontarians have gone to the United States for care, because our monopoly couldn’t provide it here.
Given the above Liberal prevarication, and pursuant to the auditor’s recent findings, I make a public plea for Ontario’s ombudsman to immediately launch a sweeping investigation of our entire monopoly health-system.”

Mr. Bradley, I look forward to your comment or response to the issues raised in this letter, or any of my previous letters to which you have not bothered to respond.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pat on the back, or kick in the butt?

Fred Audibert wrote in “Health minister would be wise to initiate review of the NHS”, (St. Catharines Standard, Jan.10, 2007):

“Re: NHS review pondered, The Standard, Dec. 7

Give Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor a big pat on the back for requesting an organizational review of our Niagara Health System. Health Minister George Smitherman would be wise to heed Craitor's advice.

Health care is a serious issue that affects all of us at one time or another. With recent statistics showing that the St. Catharines General site of the NHS has a higher than average death rate over other Canadian hospitals, one would agree that an in-depth review of its operations would be more than appropriate. All residents of Niagara deserve much better.

If this much-needed inquiry of the NHS does take place, hopefully its outcomes will be based on what is witnessed in the trenches, and not based on what is discussed in the boardrooms of upper management.

Many important issues such as wait times for surgery, long lineups in emergency departments and no beds for admitted patients must be addressed. It's imperative that front-line staffing issues also be scrutinized. Perhaps this exercise will demonstrate that greater funding is required, and perhaps it won't. Maybe this review will show a need for management restructuring, then again, it may not. There might also be a need for more doctors and nurses.

These are all important questions that must be answered. It is hard to imagine what new concerns might be discovered.

One thing is for certain: All interested parties should take a step back, take a deep breath, exhale, then look in the mirror and ask themselves, "If I were the boss, would I hire me?"

In closing, I urge The Standard to keep up the good work in informing all residents of Niagara of any new developments in such an important issue.”

*
I agree with most of this letter, but I don’t know why Niagara Falls Liberal Kim Craitor deserves a “pat on the back” for suggesting a supposed ‘organizational review’ of the NHS, which his own Liberal colleague Jim Bradley said was “routine”, and which their own government’s Health Ministry spokeswoman, Laurel Ostfield, plainly said was NOT a direct response to the high NHS death rates! The Liberals obviously denied there was a link. Why praise Craitor for simply appearing to have done something, which substantially amounted to nothing?!

The Liberal government should have called an independent investigation by the Ombudsman’s office immediately after CIHI revealed its study at the end of November 2007. Any so-called review by the Health Ministry into the administration of its own health monopoly will yield results as phony as a three-dollar bill.

It’s too little, too late for mere bandages.

Why hasn't Liberal Jim Bradley called for an investigation into high Niagara hospital death-rate?

Roman Bobak wrote in Why hasn’t Bradley asked for death rate investigation?” (Niagara This Week, Jan.11, 2008):

    “Further to D.G. Smith's letter to the editor (What is Welland death rate?, Jan. 4) Smith might try obtaining a response to his valid questions by writing to: Welland's local MPP; George Smitherman, Ontario's health minister; and Ontario's Opposition health critic, Elizabeth Witmer.
    If, according to Smith, administrators knew their respective hospital mortality rate figures for a number of years and yet did not reveal them, then that issue raises further disturbing questions about how Dalton McGuinty's Liberals are running their health monopoly.
    After claiming that he "needed" his health tax, McGuinty then announced a $1.1-billion tax cut. Yet, the Niagara Health System just stated it needed more money. The Liberals now sit on a $2.5-billion surplus, after having collected billions since 2004 from their hated "health" tax. During the televised leaders debate (Sept. 20, prior to the last election) Premier McGuinty twice said that one-half of Ontario's spending goes just to one ministry: health.
    Is spending 50 per cent of the entire provincial budget on health care still not enough? Are these billions of dollars being effectively allocated by the government within its non-competitive system? Where has the health tax money gone? St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley, who in opposition petitioned in the Legislature to "ensure government revenues fund health services, not tax-cuts," didn't even bother to call for an investigation into the high mortality rates revealed within his own riding.
    Last month, the Ontario Auditor uncovered a host of severe health-care problems -- system wide. A health-care Charter challenge is also now before the Ontario court. Ontarians are going to the States for care because our monopoly can't provide it here.
    Given the above Liberal prevarication, and pursuant to the Auditor's recent findings, I make a public plea for Ontario's Ombudsman to immediately launch a sweeping investigation of our entire monopoly health system."
*
Has Liberal MPP Jim Bradley set his riding of St. Catharines on auto-pilot, and already retired to hibernate for the next three and a half years?
*

Canada "immediately" needs 26,000 doctors

R. Bobak wrote in "Re: Ontario is Losing The Battle For Doctors, Janice Willett, Nov.15", (National Post, Jan.10, 2008):

"The Post states that "approximately 1.5 million Canadians cannot find a family physician." Yet, the Ontario Medical Association's Janice Willett claimed in your paper back in November, 2007, that "Ontario is currently short 2,000 doctors, a shortfall that impacts one million adults and 130,000 children." Has the doctor shortage vastly improved in the last two months, or is one of these figures off?"

Given the above figures, and given that Ontario's population is approx. 13 million (within Canada' s total of about 32 million) then it would mean that in the rest of Canada (outside of Ontario) with a remaining population of about 19 million, only 370,000 people don't have a doctor. Does anyone get these figures? Is this an apples/oranges question, where I'm counting grapes, or what?

What's needed would be the per-capita ratio of existing doctors to existing population, for each province. Then, by province, we'd know how many doctors per-capita are still needed; that is, assuming that all provinces even have the same requirements!

The St. Catharines Standard, Jan.9, 2008, reported: "To bring Canada's medical workforce even up to minimum standards set up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the country would need to immediately add 26,000 doctors, [CMA president Brian] Day said from Vancouver."

We're short a minimum of 26,000 doctors?? Does this include other medical staff, or is this strictly just MDs??

Again, if Ontario (13 million people) is short 2,000 doctors (according to Willett above), then the rest of Canada (19 million people) must then be short 24,000 doctors! These comparative ratios don't make sense.

The St Catharines Standard (Jan.9, 2007) also wrote "An estimated four to five million Canadians do not have a family doctor."

In this case, if in Ontario (per Willett) 1.13 million (out of 13 million) don't have a doctor, then in the rest of Canada [based on 4.5 million national shortage, a compromise of Day's 4 to 5] it would mean that 3.87 million people (out of 19 million) don't have a doctor.

But these figures show a large gap in that 8.7% of 13 million Ontarians have no doctor; while 20.4% of 19 million in the rest of Canada have no doctor.

What's missing here?

Health-care: competition; Medicare: protectionism and monopoly

The National Post had a number of reader’s letters on Jan.10, 2007, regarding their Jan.8 editorial on Canada's doctor shortage.

In “What’s wrong with health care? Four MDs respond”, Dr. Graham Berlyne wrote:
The hypothesis in your editorial that what is condescendingly called “socialized medicine’ is somehow responsible for the physician shortage in Canada - and that by dismantlement will somehow cure this shortfall – is very difficult to believe."



Does this doc have a problem with dismantling a health monopoly that interferes with an individual’s right to choose how to pay for health services?
If Berlyne wants to work in a medicare-only system, he can stay in the public system. Others (patients and physicians) who don’t, can go to a private-parallel system. It’s Berlyne’s choice to do what he wants, but it isn’t Berlyne’s choice to stop others from choosing what they wish to do. Who is he to impose his superior morality on others? A public system must recognize the right of the individual, not subjugate the individual within a failing monopoly brimming with supposedly good-intentions.

Also, is Berlyne himself condescendingly intimating that Canadian medicare is NOT socialized? What, then, is a single-payer, government-run monopoly health system?!
I’m seeing more lefties starting to spout this deceptive meme, pretending that the socialized single-payer health care system which Canada has had for 40 years, was not really socialized health care, that it was something else!!
So now, they will logically say, if we only had real socialized health care, instead of the socialized healthcare which for the last 40 years we really didn’t have, then... ...  really, my head hurts at this Brave New world/Animal Farm style revisionism.

If Berlyne thinks the State - through its single-payer socialized control of health care - had no hand in the doctor shortage in the early 1990’s, he’s mistaken.
Berlyne only has to talk to then-NDP (now Liberal) Bob Rae, or Rae's then-Deputy Health Minister, Michael Decter. They cut med school enrolments, based on their facile interpretation of the Barer-Stoddart [BS] report. The State - the single-payer – suddenly felt it wanted to control health-care costs by getting rid of older doctors (early retirement), limiting billing hours on current MDs, and cutting back on new med school enrolments. They seriously thought that having too many doctors was actually a problem!

There are many newspaper articles in the 1991-1993 period chronicling and attesting to this state-instigated phenomenon in Ontario; for example:
“ ‘Drastic' steps pending to cut number of MDS in metro area” (Toronto Star, by Lisa Priest, Oct.24, 1992)
“Tough medicine: UT med school cuts enrolment” (The Hamilton Spectator, by Suzanne Morrison, Feb.19, 1993)
“Battered MDs now being told how many can practices” (Toronto Star, by Lisa Priest, Mar.3, 1993)
“Over-65 MDs blamed for cuts. Should retire official says” (The Hamilton Spectator, May 26, 1993)



Dr. Roy Eappen and Dr. Darryl D. LaBuick , who also wrote letters in the National Post, Jan.10, 2008, were correct when they said the CMA warned about the repercussions of these government-run-interventionist moves at that time.

Berlyne says “I would bet my Ontario Health Premium that privatization won’t help a jot.” A “jot”? Is that more, or less, than a lot? Given his handsome state-paid salary, why is Berlyne only betting $900.00 from his health TAX ? (Berlyne knows, doesn’t he, that it was not, as he says, a “premium” at all. That word was condescendingly used by Ontario’s Liberals to deceive the electorate.)
So, doc, use the proper definition of what it was: a Liberal-created health TAX. Cut your Liberal politically-correct DoubleSpeak.

Berlyne concludes that privatization won’t help a jot/lot - as if the Chaoulli court case never happened in Quebec (!)... but, what if did help a “BIT”?
What if it helped “SOME’?
Would that not be worth trying, Dr. Berlyne?
Or do we condescendingly dismiss the whole idea, regardless? Berlyne’s status–quo arguments remind me of the same kind of defense Ted Marmor used, without success, to defend Quebec’s health-care charter infringements in 2005’s Chaoulli case.

If you want health-care, you need competition. If you want medicare, you want protectionism and monopoly.
*

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Liberals ignore high Niagara hospital death-rates.

In the St. Catharines Standard (Sept.7, 2007), Keith Leslie wrote in a column about Liberal Dalton McGuinty headlined “ ‘I need the money’: premier”: “McGuinty said 40% of healthcare dollars are spent on people 65 and over, a group that is expected to double in size in the next few years, putting an even greater demand on the entire system.”

‘Putting an even greater demand’?? ‘Greater’ than what?? Didn’t McGuinty know the demographics of Ontario? A demand for health care from this 65+ demographic should be of no surprise to anyone…except Liberals. Maybe they can save costs in their single-payer health monopoly by not treating this demographic.

In the St. Catharines Standard (Dec.7, 2007), the Niagara Health System (which was found by CIHI to have the third-worst mortality rate in Canada, 35% higher than the national average, and is located in a region with a high seniors demographic) said they needed more money to run the hospital. It's now a month later, and the Liberals have done nothing. They also refused to launch an investigation into the high NHS death rates. What are they afraid of? Are the Liberals not funding the NHS adequately? Where is McGuinty’s “health” tax gone, which he claimed he ‘needed’ in the Standard’s story above?

During the Sept.20, 2007 televised leaders’ debate, McGuinty twice said that Ontario spends “one-half” of all its spending on health care. So: If two weeks earlier, McGuinty was saying that 40% of Ontario’s health care spending went to the 65+demographic, then everyone else under 65 years of age must be receiving their health care from the 60% of the remaining health care spending (which together make up 50% of all budget spending).

Is this correct? Was McGuinty citing accurate figures during the election? Could his Liberals be reallocating funding out of the seniors-heavy NHS to spend elsewhere?

The St. Catharines Standard, Oct.11, 2007, wrote: “In his victory speech delivered in his riding of Ottawa South, McGuinty named health care as a top priority under his new mandate.”

Health is a Liberal ‘top priority’?!?

Did anyone tell local Liberal MPP Jim Bradley?

Bradley has essentially ignored the issue. He’s barely said a word about the NHS mortality rates and the NHS statement that it needed more money.

Is this just sad, or is it criminal?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Smitherman's anti-American-style, unofficial health-care advisor

Carol Goar wrote in "Business principles for health care", (Toronto Star, Jan.7, 2008):

“The last thing Brian Golden wants to do is take doctors out of Canada's operating rooms. But he would like to show them how to spend more time saving lives and less time fighting to schedule surgery.
It would dismay the transplanted New Yorker to see American-style private health care come to Canada. But he would like to help his adopted country improve its underperforming public system.
He has no desire to reduce health spending. But he has plenty of ideas about how to do more with taxpayers' money.
Golden is a professor of organizational behaviour at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
He was recruited six years ago to apply the best business techniques to the health sector. His goal is to ensure that Canada's hospitals, nursing homes, community care agencies and regional health boards are run as well as the world's leading corporations.
Traditionally, MBA students have not been attracted to the health-care sector. Golden is determined to change that.
"These are great jobs," he says. "The work is exciting and fulfilling."
Health institutions are the most complex form of human organization, he contends. They face insatiable demand. They have limited resources. They bring together autonomous professionals - doctors, nurses, pharmacists, administrators - in a delicate balance of independence and teamwork. They deal with life-and-death issues.
In addition to these institutional challenges, Canada's next generation of health-care leaders will have to look beyond their own walls, Golden says. All of the provinces are shifting from hospital-based medicine to decentralized health care encompassing everything from home care to high-tech surgery. To make this approach work, all the key players will need a system-wide view.
The young professor's arrival coincided with the Ontario government's drive to transform its disjointed medical system into a coherent whole.
Golden has become an enthusiastic participant in the process. He spends several afternoons a week at the Ministry of Health. He acts as an unofficial adviser to Health Minister George Smitherman, whom he describes as "a bit of a bull in a china shop - but he's a quick study and he's not afraid to say what he thinks.
"I like the minister a great deal."
Working in collaboration with Queen's Park, Golden recently launched an advanced leadership program for senior health executives. The three-week course is designed to supplement their specific skills with a broad understanding of the health-care system. It seeks to build links between professions; get surgeons talking to budget chiefs, nurses talking to policy-makers, hospital administrators talking to social workers. And it offers participants the chance to test and adapt management tools from the corporate world.
"It's a safe environment to make mistakes," Golden says. "If you don't make mistakes, you can't learn."
The course, which began in November, has 40 openings. More than 200 applications poured in. The February session is already so oversubscribed that the school has stopped taking applications.
To Golden, this indicates an openness to new ways of delivering and co-ordinating health care. It also suggests that Smitherman's vision is gaining momentum.
Golden recognizes that, for many Ontarians, medicare remains incompatible with business principles. While understanding their apprehensions, he asks them to consider a few questions
Would they object to using engineering research to clear up blockages in the health-care system?
Do they oppose seeing patients treated like valued clients by health-care organizations?
Are they against providing specialized training for the chief executive of a $1-billion-a-year institution such as Toronto's University Health Network?
Does it make sense to leave the management of Ontario's health-care system - which consumes 40 cents out of every provincial dollar - in the hands of harried doctors and hidebound bureaucrats?
Canada already provides world-class clinical care, Golden says.
His job is to ensure that the talent and commitment of its medical professionals is matched by the training and dedication of its health sector managers."

*
Carol Goar’s story (Toronto Star, Jan.7, 2007) about Brian Golden, the young professor who would be dismayed to see American-style private health care come to Canada, and who has become an unofficial advisor to health Minister George Smitherman, is so charming.

By all means, let’s bring “business principles” into a legislated-monopoly, single-payer health model, and see how far that will go to postpone the inevitable realization that the government should have no right to dictate our health care payer and provider options.

I wonder, though, after 40 years of unbridled government control of the health monopoly, why haven’t improvements and efficiencies already been instituted as best practices? Is it that the business of health care is not ultimately compatible to the social experiment which is medicare? The Soviets employed many earnest young professors to streamline socialism as well.

Also, Goar writes that the health system consumes 40% of Ontario’s taxes; yet, Dalton McGuinty, during the Sept.20, 2007 televised leaders’ debate, twice stated that Ontario spends “one-half’ on health care.

Which is it? A 10% variance on a supposedly-$38 billion health budget is a big discrepancy, leaving a lot of room for mismanagement.

The good prof’s efforts at the feet of George Smitherman’s demagogic health monopoly are laudable to the extent that together, they can more efficiently align the deck chairs on the Titanic.