Wednesday, November 24, 2004


A few more tidbits from yesterday's Alberta election:

- The NDP is officially a political non-entity outside of Edmonton - they came 5th, behind the Greens and the Alliance, in numerous ridings.

- The Alberta Separation Party garnered a whopping zero-point-something of the popular vote. OK, so maybe we're not THAT disenchanted with the federation.

- Cosh's post-election post on his website is titled "Fight to the Death". Why is this amusing? This is why:
The Progressive Conservatives have won their tenth consecutive majority government in Alberta tonight. They came in here the same year I did, and I suppose it's time to start wondering which of us will last longer...

Indeed. I would also observe that Ralph Klein's personal string of election successes began the same month the Calgary Flames played their first game. With the exception of a 3-year stint as a mere provincial cabinet minister, he has spent the entire 24+ years as a head of government. You can listen to his CBC Radio commentary here.

- In Cosh's commentary (and others have noted this as well) he makes the point that Ted Morton is probably the most significant new addition to the legislature. I hope he's right, but I have a feeling that, at least in the short-term, it will actually be this guy.

Which brings me to why I'm so disappointed about the PC election "campaign". They were going to win. Everyone knew they were going to win. They also know that structural reforms of some kind are required to be applied to the health care system. They also know, and have stated openly several times, that it is indefensible to restrict Albertans from spending their own money on their own health care.

It would have been so easy, and low-risk, to say that going forward, the government is going to focus on providing the best health care possible for those who want or need it. Private facilities? Whatever - we're not going to worry about people who don't want health care from us, we're going to devote our resources towards serving those who do. Private ownership of facilities providing publicly-insured services? Sure, why not - it would be arrogant of our government to assume that we're the only ones who know how to run a hospital, or even that we know the best way.

You know if the PCs had said any of these things, there would have been some scolding comments from federal politicians (Martin returning the favour to Ralph?) which as always would benefit Klein at the polls.

But the PCs didn't say any of this, excepting a few hints, supported half-heartedly. And so, instead of having a clear mandate to enact a few basic conceptual reforms to the system, they have a fuzzy mandate to destroy public health care, or something. Worse still, the provincial Liberals will be challenging any health reforms from a presumptively strong moral position. Witness three of the new Liberal MLAs:
  • Harry Chase (Calgary Varsity), former head of Friends of Medicare, an Alberta organization which opposes any policy not involving increased $$
  • Bridget Pastoor (Lethbridge East), former RN of 15+ years. (Sample campaign boilerplate: "as a nurse, I have an insider's understanding of the problems confronting the health care system, etc. etc.".)
  • Dr. David Swann (Calgary Mountain View) former medical officer of health for the Palliser Health Region, who I guarantee will continue to be a poster boy for the logical fallacies described here by the Monger.

I don't think it's stretching it to say that the PC "campaign" "strategy" set back health care reform in this country by 3 years. It just means the changes are going to be even more painful when they come.


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