The Freeman's Burden:

To defend the principles of human liberty; to educate; to be vigilant against the ever expanding power of the state.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


The sacred Charter cat is among the holy health care pigeons

By: Rex Murphy

The sacred Charter cat is among the holy health care pigeons. The Supreme Court has just done something as radical in this country as any court here has done any time. It has more than nudged the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a document most dear to this country, towards a collision with the one social policy that many think defines this country, universal medicare. No private health care.

On a political front, the Quebec decision may have more impact than the various provincial court decisions on same-sex marriage. Expect the Liberals to leap to the defence of medicare as we know it with the eagerness of the nearly doomed reaching for the life raft. At last, something other than Gomery and Grewal.

It's also an interesting decision because this decision, if it's an example of the dreaded judicial activism, always a problematic term, is activism towards the right side of the spectrum. All of those who saw the enlightenment of court leadership on same-sex may have to limber up to find the flexibility to dam the reactionary impulse of this one. But it's what the court has said and what this decision implicitly acknowledges that is the real bundle of explosive here.

That the system that Canadians treasure, that has become our litmus and brand as a society, which cares for its members, the health care system has become, in practice, a turmoil, a frustration, and a disappointment on a daily basis for a very long time for just too many Canadians.

It has also said that leaving it alone to preserve the purity of it as an idea is not worth the cost of all the inconvenience, anxiety, and sometimes even danger that waiting lists and stretched out appointments and insensitivity to the particular suffering patient or family is not an option.

The decision has also called the bluff of the governments that have stalled real reform, done their endless commissions and reports, kept promising from at least Mulroney to Martin to fix what isn't in experience really working and exposed a fair bit of hypocrisy too.

That in Quebec already there is so-called private care. That those who can't afford for their health to wait are already being driven to go out of the country, and that the really well off and sometimes the well connected find a way around the lines and the waiting lists. That's not in the decision itself, but it is the open secret of our so much self-lauded system, that it is already broken, worked around or in emergency bypassed.

Finally, the initial response from the government that this is just Quebec and that the health care system across Canada is safe is platitude and poppycock. One decision, remember, in Ontario begat same-sex decisions in seven other provinces. The Charter is a bigger idea than the ideology of health care, and the Charter will trump whenever it is raised. This court decision may do what a million royal commissions haven't: force a real fix on the system as it is or open the system up to some mix that will deliver true health care to those people who need it when they need it. I can hear that sacred cat purring.


Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many.

10:52 AM  

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