Passing the Liberal baton

I just had one of those big birthdays. You know the one, when all of those investment ads say that you should be retiring. (Did any of those retirees have children?) At any rate, to commemorate my birthday Jean Chrétien gave up on being prime minister for life and passed the torch to Paul Martin. A Liberal for a Liberal (sigh). When I was a kid living on a farm in southern Ontario, all of the farmers voted Conservative. My father, a staunch Liberal, was aghast at this. “They vote Tory because they have always voted Tory. Don’t they know those guys are a bunch of crooks?” I have always had enormous respect for my father and he always seemed to know a lot about politics, but I believe that he would have been truly dismayed by this most recent crop of Liberals who have raised cynicism to an art form. A failed businessman stiffs the government for $500000 in taxes and then gets a cushy government job as privacy commissioner, where he proceeds to go berserk with the company Visa card; immigration judges in Quebec are appointed despite being under investigation for criminal wrongdoing and disbarment from the Quebec Law Society; a Small Investments minister blows $1 billion of taxpayers’ money; and a gun control registry so far off the rails that $1 billion looks like chicken feed. The outgoing Liberal government began to tell the “big lie.” Paul Martin’s incoming Liberal government seems keen. They have started to look at immigration, and instead of patronage appointments are perhaps looking at a more appropriate method of choosing immigration judges.

Hopefully Mr Martin will realize that there are folks living west of the Lakehead, and perhaps he will see that skimming all of the money from road taxes means that the western provinces have poor roads. (Have you ever driven the Kicking Horse Highway?) Perhaps they will take a realistic look at health care and perhaps the Minister of Health will acknowledge that universal health care also means timely health care. Perhaps they will understand that a treatment cannot be “medically necessary” if you can wait 2 years for that treatment. Then, they have the cheek to deny you the right to purchase that treatment yourself. That is not only not fair, it’s dumb.

This editorial was written some months ago when Mr Chrétien and Mr Martin exchanged the baton. We are now in a run-up to a federal election, and it will be interesting to see the planks in the Liberal platform with respect to health care and western involvement in the governing of Canada. It is unlikely that the combined Tories and Alliance will give the Liberals much to worry about.

Personally, I am hoping that my dad’s party under Mr Martin will have created realistic methods of dealing with health care and the federal governing of Western Canada going into the 21st century, because personally I was pretty fed up with the last bunch.


Anthony J. Salvian, MD. Passing the Liberal baton. BCMJ, Vol. 46, No. 1, January, February, 2004, Page(s) 6 - Editorials.

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