It’s been just over a week now since the Olympics have wrapped up. I can’t say I tracked the event with any sort of commitment but do admit a love of speed skating of any sort and usually make an effort to watch these events plus women’s hockey whenever I can. I can certainly appreciate the national pride that swells when we Canadians see our athletes do well and compete with a strong ethic of sportspersonship. I saw many print media and social media headlines celebrating what makes us Canadian, in short, what defines us as a nation – the game of hockey.
I get swept up in the glow as well. I cheer, and fret when the game doesn’t go our way. But, while I was swept up and mesmerized by the glint of skate blades and while Canada was cheering for our hockey teams, I started to reflect on another important marker of our national identity – universal healthcare. I wondered if we would join together as a nation and cheer for our universal healthcare system the same way we cheer for our hockey teams and our other athletes. What if someone were threatening that humane (I’m not saying it’s perfect) system embedded into the fabric of our lives in this nation? Would we rise up and join together to protect it? Well, sadly, it is under threat…An insidious force is at work in our nation’s capital. A February 11th article by Michael McBane posted on the Canadian Health Coalition’s website and also published in the Hill Times on February 17th explains how the new Harper budget is that threat to our universal healthcare system:
Buried on page 279 of the 2014 federal budget is a measure that will make it next to impossible for provinces to provide health care services on equal terms and conditions. The purpose of this budget item is to strike a blow to the heart and soul of universal health care in Canada. (Budget 2014 triggers Harper’s plan to dismantle national healthcare)
Read more here posted on The Council of Canadians website on January 20th of this year. And, Halifax Chronicle Herald writers Lee Seymour and Angela Giles did into this further in a January 10th article, stating their read of the situation very clearly:
Unfortunately, the federal government under Stephen Harper is not committed to public health care, and some argue it is orchestrating its failure to ensure increased support for privatization or a two-tiered system. This past year, Harper cut funding for the Health Council of Canada, which led to its demise. (It was an independent, non-profit organization funded by Health Canada and mandated to monitor and report on the progress of health-care renewal in Canada.) (Ottawa to blame for health failings)
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Harper government has been systematically disintegrating systems, processes and protections that have been put into place through the passion, sweat and commitment of Canadians. It’s been difficult to see the pattern though as a series of small pieces loosely joined have been dismantled. For me, a common thread emerged in the debate surrounding the omnibus Bill C-38 in 2012. I started to see how these small pieces fit together to creating a broad sweeping epic of disregard for the foundations Canada is built on – universal healthcare, environment protections, refugee rights food safety laws, to name a few.)
I am concerned. As concerned as I am, I’m not certain what the best and most effective action I can take. Sure, I vote, but sadly the fact that popular vote was not won by the Conservatives in the last election did not make a difference to the outcome. The action taken by parliamentary page, Brigitte DePape was a brave one and drew our attention to the House of Commons where these tragedies are being penned by our elected officials.
Others have taken similar creative and courageous actions. Sean Devlin dressed as a server at a political event where Harper was speaking, to get close enough to the PM to hold up a handmade “Climate Justice Now” sign that was all over the media.
source: National Post
Perhaps it’s these creative actions, that grab attention and headlines, that will help get us moving and motivated to care for these issues that are core to our identity as a nation.