Friday, August 28, 2015

Health Care - Not an Issue for Major Political Parties in Canada's Federal Election Campaigns

It's a somewhat surreal election campaign that is currently in full swing in Canada. It stays clear of issues of vital importance to Canada and Canadians. There we have a rapidly ageing population and really we need a national seniors strategy that accounts for that. One can nearly feel sorry for the Canadian Medical Association here. The association tried hard during the last few months to make this issue an issue in the current election campaign. It was rightly supported by sympathetic journalists such as the Globe and Mail's Andre Picard. Yet, for all those efforts, the issue gained no traction with any of the major parties. Our federal leaders' heads remain firmly planted deep in sand, with no effort made to look ahead and address major, dramatic challenges to our health care system. Instead we were treated to a good two weeks' worth of Mike Duffy and the usual corrupt shenanigans that are a hallmark of Prime Minister Harper's political operation.

I spoke yesterday to a journalist interviewing me on the state of federal and provincial planning with regard to the implementation of our Supreme Court's decision  on assisted dying. He asked why the political parties, in my estimation, haven't taken up this issue in their respective campaigns? He was puzzled that an issue that enjoys broad support among Canadians is ignored by the major political parties. What was I to say other than 'I don't get it either'. A new poll, released today, confirms what I told the journalist yesterday, it is not only the case that the vast majority of Canadians want to see the decriminalization of assisted dying, it is also the case that the vast majority of conservative party voters supports the decriminalization. 77% of Canadians generally support decriminalization and a whopping 67% of conservative party voters and 84% of NDP voters. This does beg the question why none of the mainstream parties have leveled with their supporters and the general voting public on how they would implement the Supreme Court judgment. I do still wonder why Prime Minister Harper appointed an advisory panel stacked with discredited anti-choice activists, given that the majority of his party's supporters is in favor of decriminalization. Why on earth would he stack his panel with folks known to be opposed to decriminalization? I sometimes wonder about the credit that is given to Mr Harper who is hailed as a master political tactician. His whole election campaign seems a shambles to me.

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