Entries from June 2005 ↓

The hidden agenda

Here it is – check it out.


Our demographic time bomb

I have no doubt that in this BBQ campaign about to be unleashed on Canadians, that the Liberals will play the health care card, saying Conservatives would dismantle the system by creating two tiers of care. Be very wary of leting anyone fall for this scare tactic, since there is not a single word in the Conservative policy platform about deconstructing our system of universal health care.

Having said that, everybody today also understands the system could work better. Waiting lists are too long. Often the latest innovations and the best technology are not available or too slow in coming. While nobody wants to import the American system of patchwork health care coverage, it would be foolish for us not to explore ways of making the system better, so long as it remains free. And that is the key – blending public and private care providers together to improve things – but making sure that every Canadian has access to everything, regardless of their ability to pay.

In fact, Conservatives understand that the challenges facing the health care system today could well pale compared with what’s coming.

Baby Boomers like me make up 32% of the entire Canadian population – that’s almost nine million people, who are now in their fifties. And while we are the fittest generation to ever be at this age, we are all getting older. Inevitably, Canada’s aging population will place even greater burdens on the health care system. So, if it going to meet that challenge, and stay affordable and universal, we had better find ways of making it more efficient. If anyone asks, here’s what the Conservative platform is on health care:

· Conservatives believe everybody should have reasonable access to timely, quality care, regardless of ability to pay.

· Provinces should have maximum flexibility on how to deliver care, within a universal system. Conservatives are committed to paying for this with stable and transparent funding.

· Provinces should be able to use a balance of public and private delivery options for health care. All services to remain publicly funded, but delivered to achieve the best quality and cost.

· Conservatives support having a Chief Public Health Officer in Canada who can help promote wellness and disease prevention – important elements of making the health system sustainable.

If politicians think health care is a giant issue tday, then it will be staggering to see the amount of attention it gets in 2015. At that time fully 40% of the population will over the age of 50 and less than 15% will be under the age of 12. As life expectancy pumps higher, we will be committed to caring for people who will routinely achieve 100 or 110 years of age. And, as we already know, over 90% of all the health care you get in your life comes in less than the last year of it.

Are we all preparing for the retirement crisis ahead – economically and medically? Hardly. But the Conservative approach shows the greatest promise.

Old-style politicians mouth words like “accessibility” and “universality.” Perhaps a modern politician will dare utter the word “collapse.”

House cleaning

Now that this rancorous session of Parliament is coming to a close, I am certain many folks on their doorsteps will be asking me what’s happened to the House of Commons.

Fair question. And what are Conservatives going to do about it?

Parliament has not exactly been a showplace lately. The allegations of corruption, bribes, kickbacks and plain stealing that the Gomery enquiry is turning up are shocking. The incident of a Conservative MP making secret tape recordings of the Liberals offering him a deal if he defected is bizarre.

Charges that the government times its votes so sick Conservative members will miss them are distasteful. And then there is all that yelling in Question Period! No wonder people refer to the House of Commons as a kindergarten.

Actually, I found it interesting to be on the floor of the House for the first time – the acoustics are so bad in there that it is impossible to hear what anyone else is saying. To get around that, there is a small microphone on every MP’s desk, and when he or she is recognized by the Speaker to talk, then a House of Commons engineer up in the gallery flicks a switch, activating that mic. The only way that other people can hear you then is to put their earpieces on.

However, the person speaking has to remove his or her earpiece, because it is distracting to have it buzzing while your talking . The downside is, all the surrounding noise is overwhelming, and people on their feet tend to START SHOUTING.

Anyway, that’s a side issue. The main things Canadians want are more principled Members of Parliament, more cooperation, less fighting, better results and ethical behaviour all round. The way to get this, of course, is to elect the best possible candidates. I just hope that all the negative media Parliament is getting (and probably deserves), does not drive off good people who would make excellent MPs.

You should probably know where the Conservatives stand on cleaning up Parliament:

· Conservatives will make sure that key people, like the Auditor General and the Ethics Commissioner are appointed by Parliament, instead of the prime minister’s office, and report to Parliament.

· Except for budget and financial votes, Conservatives will make sure that every vote in the House of Commons is a free vote, so MPs can finally represent their constituents, instead of just lining up for the party.

· Conservatives think the electoral system could be better. Today MPs and even governments are elected with less than a majority of the votes. Conservatives would consider finding a much better process.

· Conservatives have already put a lot of time and effort into finding the best possible candidates for election. Interested people have to provide a police background check, fill out an exhaustive questionnaire on their experiences, beliefs and education, and even go through an intensive personal interview. Then, of course, they have to win a nomination contest, securing the support of an absolute majority of party members in each area.

Democracy is messy. But it doesn’t need to be like this. After the next election, principled Conservative MPs will show the way.