Another country

Ever since Danny Williams was revealed to have been seeking treatment for a heart ailment across the border, the media have been observing a strange and uncomfortable silence about the matter.

On one hand, this reticence is commendable. Williams’s preference in health care is nobody’s business, and should remain, as far as possible, a private matter between him and his God. Though some claim this is a lifestyle choice, it’s far more likely that it is a result of something beyond his control. As such, it is not a fit matter for public commentary.

But once the story has, by one means or another, entered the public domain, that puts a different colour on it. At that point, the media are not just declining to report on something: they are actively colluding in a fiction. The issue is no longer Williams’s medical inclination. It’s the media’s refusal to acknowledge reality.

It’s not as if this were twenty or thirty years ago, when the mere knowledge that someone had a preference for American health care might have been enough to end his political career, or to bring social censure and humiliation upon him. In this more enlightened age, most people are more likely to react with a yawn. It is no longer unusual to see people who openly “go south,” from captains of industry to sports stars. Many Canadians have discovered they know someone like that — perhaps even a member of their own family. All that we are accomplishing by suppressing discussion of Williams’s case is to suggest that there is something embarrassing or shameful about it. Far from erasing a stigma, we are reinforcing it.

I’m not suggesting we should go around unmasking politicians who use American health care, but who prefer not to discuss it. But this taboo on reporting things that are already public knowledge is contrary to our natural urges as a profession, and as such strikes me as unhealthy.

SIGH: For readers who are puzzled by the first paragraph, Rob Silver’s comment below is well worth reading.




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Another country

  1. This silence of which you speak ….. I'm sorry, I can't hear you.

    • I wasn't aware of any silence, given the coverage it has already received. Google News shows 99 related articles, and it attracted a fair amount of interest on blogs.

      How much national media attention does a story like this one really deserve?

  2. I wasn't aware of any silence, given the coverage it has already received. Google News shows 99 related articles, and it attracted a fair amount of interest on blogs.

    How much national media attention does a story like this one really deserve?

    • 99 is not much. There has been more reporting in the US than here, as far as I've seen.

      The word "prorogue" gets 1730 hits.
      "ignatieff child care" gets 190.

    • I wouldn't call it silence, but I agree with Andrew that coverage has been very light. There has been very few details, nor has there been any insight into the issue. I think the media, who largely favour socialized medicine, would rather write the millionth story about prorogue.

      • He was being gently satirical here. Unlike a lot of other Canadian pundits, when Coyne writes something as absurd as "the media have been observing a strange and uncomfortable silence about the matter", it's usually intentional.

        • This one was too subtle though for an online text presentation I think. Like you, I thought he was being serious as well, and I don't think that's an indictment of my sense of humour.

          • we need to devise a form of textual cunning grin or literary wink and a smile that Coyne can use to tip of the reader when he wants to employ his repartee.

          • I've said before, he needs to use the tags. However, since he was serious in this instance, maybe he is.

          • Yeah, it was too oblique and blandly presented to be great satire. I don't think it's clear that the use of American health care has a huge stigma attached to it these days, or that it's all so much worse than it was in the past. Really, it's just that the blogosphere has amplified coverage of such stories.

          • Granted, it doesn't have the stigma it once did, but the fact is that people still look askance at someone who uses American health care. Particularly on sports teams, I'm told, when a teenager discovers they have an inclination toward the American health system they often feel compelled to keep it to themselves for fear of mockery.

          • It's a personal lifestyle choice, really. Thank goodness most Canadians no longer see someone's inclination toward American health care as immorality or deviancy.

          • Sorry but here in Universal-loving health care country — the OHIP belt – we believe leaving Canada for treatment is an affront to real Canadian values.

          • Indeed – after all it is only one's actions, not one's inclinations, for which one is responsible.
            And just because someone wants to use American health care, doesn't mean they have to do so. There many who, much as they would prefer to go south, instead stay with the Canadian system out of a sense of principle.

      • Yesterday's top headline on the top of the front page of the Toronto Star: DANNY MILLIONS HEADS SOUTH.

        There was nothing on the front page about prorogation.

        • C'mon guys …. it is just alright … but maybe more apparent and appealing to a
          Maritime sensibility than to that of dull,staid Calgary … oops!

        • Did the Star print a special section? No, right?
          They're burying this.

          • Paul Wells Joke FAIL !
            Three part series begins Saturday.

      • I didn't know the media had a collective position on healthcare.

    • It came as a surprise to me too ….. I mean that Mr. Coyne is showing signs of an
      evolving, if still ephemeral, sense of humour. Look hard. You'll see it.

      • I see it now. Man, that's dry.

        I think the story received about as much media attention as it warranted. I don't think it was over-covered or under-covered.

  3. Danny Williams, that's one thing.

    Here is another dirty little secret. I have relatives in the States. For the longest time my father served as a surrogate pharmacy for his sister and her husband in Washington State because they simply could not afford the prices there.

    If there is to be a debate on the issue of health care, I'm relatively certain Tommy Douglas will still win it.

    • I disagree. We would not have as many drugs if it were not for the ability for pharma companies to recoup their costs. There's a reason all the drug discoveries happen in the same country these days.

      • There's a reason all the drug discoveries happen in the same country these days.

        Yes, but isn't that the same reason that there are nine different pharmaceutical drugs used for treating "Restless Legs Syndrome"?

        • I see, so you're saying that there should be only one drug for anything. One cancer drug. One heart drug. And one restless legs syndrome drug (even though there is no cure the syndrome). Strangely, I see 100 treatments for a cold in the pharmacy, but I never thought of that as a bad thing.

          • Actually, that there are 100 treatments for the cold is a stunning indictment that none of them are superior to each other (or to nothing at all).

          • I believe you find those in the placebo section of the drug store.

        • I read the other day that a connection has been found between restless leg sydrome and erectile dysfunction so there may be more drug resources on the way. Also restless wife syndrome.

      • Pfizer Global earned 20 billion United States Dollars in 2006 and $8 billion in 2008 during an economic meltdown. Your overarching point has merit – but to assume that the pricing scheme in the United States is in balance and other countries who are more restrictive is wrong is unfounded.

  4. I have nothing but the biggest thumbs up for our health care system, I was in need of it a while back, and they were amazing, perhaps a little bit of a waiting period but I got the best treatment…

    • I too received the best of care. I'm a Stage IV cancer survivor. When I was diagnosed 7 years ago, I was operated on within 2 weeks. I just had a PET/CT scan the other day, within 2 weeks of my Onc. requesting it. I have belonged to an ACOR website since I was first diagnosed. From what many posters in the US have said on ACOR, I'm glad that I live in Canada. I've gone through 2 rounds of chemo over the years and would never trade our system for that of the US. Thankfully, and I don't know why, my Onc. told me the other day she expects me to around for some time. She was ready to send me to see a world renowned Dr. in Quebec City (yes on my dime re travel, etc.) . It might happen eventually, but not now. :-)

      • Novagardener, best of luck , I hope you are doing great!

        My son got H1N1 in Washington DC, thankfully he is great now…but will be paying for that bill for the rest of our lives…not quite, but they were horrible, even with private insurance!

    • agreed. as a individual with a relatively benign but nonetheless at times painful chronic condition (psoriatic arthritis) I am incredibly thankful for our system and that it has allowed me to get truly great care without having to contemplate severely sacrificing my quality of life by choosing between excellent care or financial stability.

  5. This post does strike me as having a bit of a "why is no one talking about the thing that everyone's talking about" vibe to it.

    I'd be more convinced that "the media have been observing a strange and uncomfortable silence about the matter" if it weren't for the literally dozens and dozens of stories I've seen in the media about the matter. Even now it's the number two story on the G&M website (until just recently it was number one with a full colour picture of the Premier). It's also a top story at the National Post (#2), the Toronto Star (#4, but there's big pic of a Mississauga arson suspect ), CBC.ca (#2) CTV.ca (#2 with a pic).

    This is the #2 story on the websites of 4 of the country's top 5 news organizations. Were you hoping for an on camera interview with Williams about his procedure? An Interview with the doctor? Videotape of the surgery?

    • Agreed…I thought he was being serious too but it doesn't square with the coverage that its getting.

      Ordinarily I would agree that a person's health care is his own private business…but when you are a provincial premier who is on the public record criticizing Stephen Harper for what he might do to Tommy Douglas' wonderful public health care system, and accountable for the performance of your own provincial system, I'm sorry but I think you have to sacrifice some of that privacy if you want to get your healthcare somewhere else.

      I'm perfectly willing to believe that Williams could not be treated in Newfoundland…but I think he owes it to Newfoundlanders to offer some proof that he really needed to get treatment down south.

      • I think he owes it to Newfoundlanders to offer some proof that he really needed to get treatment down south.

        I certainly take your point, and it's a valid position to take, but I still think that it's none of anybody else's God d@mned business.

  6. Hey, do Maclean’s employees use the services of Scienta Health? That company is more American than Canadian. There. I’ve put this matter in the public domain. End the silence!

  7. There's something wrong about the fact that you have to get on a plane to get the best care in the world. Our supposedly egalitarian system is the most inegalitarian of them all. For the best treatment you must be able to afford international travel.

    • Yes, because the fact that one Canadian went to the US for an unspecified procedure totally proves your sweeping indictment of Canada's entire medical system.

      • You know, this is not a canadian issue, people from all over the world travel to different parts of the world for treatment, where they can find the right specialists or hospitals…

    • I had a comment on this some time back … if I can find the articles again I'll link them …
      but basically they point out that in California (roughly similar population to Canada) more
      people seek medical care in Mexico than Canadians do in the US.

      • That would be the Mexicans.

        • Nope. Most of them were people seeking cheaper surgery or alternative therapies not approved
          in the US. Most illegals avoid the health care system for obvious reasons. Naturalized Mexicans
          with insurance have no reason to go to Mexico. Illegals don't go back for health care. If absolutely
          necessary they go to the local ER and take a chance on being sent back.

          • The study included dental work and prescription drug purchases. Therefore your comparison is meaningless.

            "dental care was the most common service obtained by immigrants"

            Secondly, like I said before, half the migrants are Mexicans living in California.

            And thirdly, "•Immigrants who travel to Mexico for health services are not necessarily the poorest. One explanation: The cost of travel may offset any financial savings, creating a disincentive for the very poor to travel"

      • I believe this Krugman column gets you to two studies, one of them being the one you are thinking about….

    • Actually, s_c_f, for the best treatment you can often take a subway or a bus. Unless you count having to go through Greektown and Chinatown as international travel, your "fact" is actually an opinion, one not backed up by facts.

      There are a few cardiac procedures done in the states we don't do here, mostly because we don't have the population base to build up the level of experience needed for rare cases. Most provinces will quite happily, with prior approval, allow you to go south for these procedures, and pay for them when needed. But since we don't know what Danny is up to, making a judgment on a whole system based upon partial information of a single case is unwise.

      • I see, so you need more than 30 million people to get rare cases. Malarkey.

        • Okay. Here's some medical stuff. Why is it that, in a country the size of Canada, there are only two hospitals that do a particular type of organ transplant?

          Why? Because in an average year, they might do 10 or 20. Or, you can have 30 hospitals that do it, and do maybe one a year. Would you prefer a guy operating on you to have almost no experience, or a lot? That's what i'm talking about.

          Not sure why you're mentioning american medical tourists…

    • "There's something wrong about the fact that you have to get on a plane to get the best care in the world."

      Why? If you live in Newfoundland, population 600 000 or so, wouldn't you expect to need to leave the island for some kinds of care? People in Ontario are flown around the province all the time for care, even routine care. And if you need advanced or specialised care, that's likely to be best provided in only a few centres around the continent — maybe it's in Ottawa, or Edmonton, but if it's in Boston, or Pheonix (or if a US centre is closer by than the nearest Canadian one) I don't see the problem in crossing the border. (In fact, it's stupid that people are flown from NW Ontario to Toronto when their care needs could be met by out-of-province hospitals much, much closer by in Manitoba or the US. But that's another story.)

      Anyway, we don't know why Williams left. If it was simple queue jumping it's a little hypocritical, but it's an option available to anyone with the money, and we might debate that. But if it was because the hospitals in St John's can't provide the necessary treatment it shouldn't be an issue at all. (And it's no shame to St John's hospitals, either, depending on the treatment needed, considering the relatively small populations they serve.)

      • I see. So if you get the same condition, you'll be perfectly capable of handing over the 5 grand in plane fare, and the 30 grand for the operation, as well as whatever additional expenses are incurred. In fact, every one of us Canadians, including the guy living in the box on the street corner, will be perfectly capable of hopping on the plane to the US. OK.

    • "There's something wrong about the fact that you have to get on a plane to get the best care in the world"

      CORRECTION:
      There's something wrong about the fact that you have to get on a plane to get the best care in the world THAT MONEY CAN BUY.

      scf, if you don't have the money TO BUY IT, it is the WORSE care in the world.

      • Yes, well, if you can't get the care at all, I'd say that's even worse.

        Instead of a system favouring the rich, we have a system that is crappy for everyone, and the rich using the system of a foreign country.

        All you people are so blind.

        • Crappy for everyone?

          The singularly dumbest thing you've ever typed. Indefensible.

          • Best part about that survey? The U.S is ranked #37.

            Wakka wakka wakka….

          • And you think that's a good thing? Race to the bottom? Wonderful.

            Like I said, the primary reason the US ranked that low is because the ranking places a premium on universal coverage.

          • They are denied access. Not for emergency care, but for other conditions, they absolutely are denied access.

          • Same as Canada.

          • Exactly what I said – all essential treatments are provided, all you need to do is go to the ER. And of course, Canadians with no doctor are also denied access, as well as Canadians trying to get access to MRIs and any number of other services.

        • "Yes, well, if you can't get the care at all, I'd say that's even worse."

          Can't get care at all? scf, silence as opposed to ignorant statements is also an option, you know?

          • Silence? The ignoramus is you, and you wish to remain ignorant, so be it.

            People in Canada routinely walk out of ERs and clinics without treatment because the wait is so long. People in Canada routinely go long periods without care, which can extend into years, because of the waits. You're the ignorant one, if you don't even realize that, because it's nothing new, it's been that way for many years now, and it continues to worsen, every day.

          • You say stuff like "people in Canada routinely….." as if it's a fact. Is this personal observation? What people? Four people you know who routinely do this? My friends? My family? Behavioural analysis? Statistical data?

            See, you can't base a factual argument on stuff that ain't facts. I'm still waiting for the backup to your "crappy for everyone" statement.

          • The extreme shortage of pretty well everything medical in Canada has been well documented, whether it's hospital beds, doctors, diagnostic machines, access to specialists, you name it. Denying this is like denying that the sky is blue. If you've ever been to an ER you know the average wait time is hours, and if you haven't it's common knowledge: http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2009/05/03/
            The shortage of diagnostics and doctors is in the news all the time as well.
            Are you living under a rock?

          • "Routine cases require an average of 4.6 hours, and many busy hospitals leave patients cooling their heels for much longer periods of time"

            "In Toronto, emergency room waits for minor conditions range from five to six hours and for serious conditions from 11 to 22 hours"

            This story is the same across Canada.

        • I haven't heard any complaints about cardiac care in Canada. Maybe you could enlighten us as to the problems.

    • Our health care may not be the very best of the very best in the world, but we're up there. And the thing is you *don't* have to get on a plane. You have chosen to, and that's on you. You are welcome to do so, and as this particular issue shows, most people are willing to not comment on your personal decision. (Even if you are directly responsible for the care available, which I do think is a tiny bit over the top.) Or would you rather pay all that much more for other people's health care, and include your own? I'm sure other Newfoundlanders would have been thrilled if Danny had tried that!

      But no, apparently you are willing to watch your province-mates in preventable pain or dying, while you jet off to healthier climes. Nice neighbour!

    • I don't have to get on a plane — I just have to get in a taxi or on the subway. Most of it's right over there on Unviersity Avenue.

      And if you think someone living in Billings, Montana doesn't have to get on a plane to get the "best" treatment, think again.

  8. That's been my experience as well, which no doubt is mirrored across the country. You have to wait, and wait but the care is top notch, once you get it.

    • Mine too. But I still think there's something to be said for the US system, where you don't have to wait and then still get the best treatment.

  9. In related news, the New England Confectionery Company has announced a special edition run of Sweethearts candies for the NL Valentines season.

    Replacing "Fax Me" will be "Text Me" , replacing "ABC" will be "XOX", and replacing "Triage Me" will be "Tier Me".

    "Club Me", however, will still remain a favourite, and will not be replaced with "Pie Me", contrary to widespread media speculation.

    • For the truly frisky there is Rogue Me Like A Pro !

  10. In Ontario OHIP policies favour sending patients out of country (rather than to another Canadian province) when a service is not available or not available in a timely manner.

    • "in a timely manner": more than 10 years away. 9 years is OK.

      • My doc told me it was about 2-3 months for a non-serious MRI — but if you do a little work (calling to get put on cancellation lists etc) it would be within a week or so.

        However, I agree 2-3 months is unacceptably long.

    • Now that I've realised what Andrew is talking about I realise that my comment is totally lame and would give myself a thumbsdown if it were possible.

      Anyways, John Baird, old news. He's not the only out of the closet yet unreported gay man in the House either… If this were the U.S. it would have been picked up years ago as a headline story.

  11. What makes the “Danny Williams” story particularly interesting is that it was someone from his own team that let the info of his affinity for American healthcare slip, and then it was quickly ignored by the media (as opposed to an opposition member of parliament or a reporter playing gotcha). Have also been surprised that bloggers (for the most part) have joined in on the conspiracy of silence about Danny’s love of American healthcare. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    • Now that the surgery has been completed, and he is in recovery, the floodgates I suspect will soon open further.

    • Are you being satirical too?

      Again, this has to be the loudest conspiracy of silence in the history of silent conspiracies. The story's still in the top five stories of every major news outlet's webpage, and I know it was number one on the Globe site for a good long while yesterday, with a big colour photo of the Premier front and center. It also made the front page of the print edition of the National Post on Wednesday, and "Danny Millions Heads South" was the TOP HEADLINE on the front page of the print edition of the Toronto Star.

      If you're not being tongue in cheek, did you expect our news outlets to one by one phone each person in the country and inform them about this story personally?

    • Exactly, Rob. After all, it's not as if Danny's preference was a big secret. He's been quite open about it.

      • Rob, next time, remember your audience, and engage the "type in red" sarcasm filter. Save a lot of hassle…

      • Let's just say this. The difference between American reporting and Canadian reporting is that the health of public figures seems to be a reportable and it is somewhat shocking that it is.

        In Canada, we've stayed away from such reporting because it's a smaller circle of folks that live and work together. We've all got health issues and perhaps we realize that we're all real people at the end of the day.

        The hush over one's choice in healthcare delivery isn't a suppressed stigma, it's a realization that not everything is in the public interest.

        If you choose Canadian healthcare, it's not as if this is news, but it still wouldn't be kosher to name your attending physician and a list of what ails you. The same thing applies for those that prefer to go down South, it's nobody else's business.

      • The man has a heart condition and needs surgery, and you expect him to rush to the microphones first?

        And, I don't know anymore if I should be snarky here. Does a double-inward reverse form of snark with a half-pike still count as snark, or has it all washed out and now we're being serious again?

      • It was my understanding that Williams headed south to have the procedure done on the advice of his physicians.

        On that note, while his preferences for private care or US care or whatever non-Tommy-Douglas-inspired medicare may be reportable, trying to make his heart surgery some kind of metonym for a strong distrust in public care on his part just doesn't make a whole lot of sense at this point, because it ignores any medical factors that may have played into the decision.

      • If what you're saying is true about the circumstances being out of Williams' control, then the real story (from a socialist's stand point at least) would be why the surgery couldn't be done in Canada.

        Could it be that the goal of having William's staffer release information of William's clandestine operation is create media outrage over our inadequate healthcare system.

      • He's probably not the first Canadian politican either. I've heard rumours that Trudeau went for care on either side of the border.

    • Rob – you are suggesting that "his own team" and the "media" are two different things.
      You should probably spend more time reading Newfoundland media.

    • I have visited a hospital in Florida that had valet parking. it was great. Seriously. The nicest hospital I've ever been in, however, was in Mumbai, in India. You were treated like a king.

      A lot of wealthy people in Canada get pissed off because in other countries, as a wealthy person, they get preferential treatment. In Canada, in contrast, you have to wait in emerg alongisde taxi drivers and high school teachers and other middle class people like journalists. Many of them are dressed incredible badly. The unfortunate fact is that many middle class Canadians dress as if they are Soviet-era Russians who are pretending to be Americans.

      Canada needs to learn how to treat it's rich people better.

      • Perhaps a dress code for emergency visits…

    • Did a media scan on a library compooter this evening.

      In all of January, the infobase in question came up with about 250 stories that mentioned "Danny Williams" or "Premier Williams".

      In the past five days alone, it came up with nearly 800.

      If the media are ignoring it, they are doing it wrong.

  12. Sort of like the daily revelations about the imploding of the IPCC (the latest is India pulling out altogether) Michael Mann's investigation, and the continuing fallout from climategate,

    all of which recieves a near media blackout.

    Forbidden to be covered, as not part of the correct meme.

    • Again, top front page headline of yesterday's Toronto Star: DANNY MILLIONS HEADS SOUTH. It made the front page of the National Post as well, and was the number 1 story on the websites of CBC News, CTV News, the Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star at one time or another yesterday.

      Current Google News results for the search <"danny williams" and surgery>, limiting the search to just stories from the last day: 803 hits.

      I know some people are being satirical and I've missed the nuance online, but I have a feeling you're being serious, 'cause you're biff. If making the front page of two of the nation's three largest newspapers, and spending most of yesterday as the number one story on the websites of our five biggest news outlets is a "media blackout", just what type of coverage were you expecting?

      • Except you've provided no examples of media coverage on MY POINT.

        You haven't because you can't.

        That is, my point vis. climate fallout recieving a media blackout, is absolutely correct. A few articles from the British press, and a smattering here and there. Otherwise nothing, except on the (mostly conservative) blogs, in which case its everywhere, and detailed laden.

        Of course the details are startling and continue to cast so much doubt that it's near impossible to give AGW much credibitily – which is precisely why the MSM has dutifully avoided reporting on it.

        • Well, I don't entirely agree with your characterizations, but even if I did, the point your were making was that the Danny Williams is "like" that. Even if I agree that there's been a conspiracy of silence wrt climate change skepticism, how is this surgery story "like" that?

          • No, he's angry that a story about a Canadian celebrity/Premier is outnewsing a story about leaked emails from a bunch of scientists, emails which prove nothing more than said scientists are as nasty and immature as everyone else. In England. Last month.

  13. Reading Mr. Coyne's post, I can't help but draw a parallel to the recent outing of Minister Baird on CBC radio by the P.C. candidate in Toronto Centre.
    _____
    "But once the story has, by one means or another, entered the public domain, that puts a different colour on it. At that point, the media are not just declining to report on something: they are actively colluding in a fiction."

    "All that we are accomplishing by suppressing discussion of Williams's case is to suggest that there is something embarrassing or shameful about it. Far from erasing a stigma, we are reinforcing it."

  14. Congratulations Danny Williams on your successful penis enhancement surgery.

    • They did say it was cardiovascular.

  15. I got hungry waiting in line so I ate all my SWEETHEARTS. I ate my “Tweetheart”s first. Then I ate all my “Tiers”. Then I ate my stale “Be Mine”s and when I was near the front of the que I ate my “I’m Fine”s and went home.

  16. "… contrary to our natural urges as a profession, and as such strikes me as unhealthy."

    SODLMFAO (slumped over the desk laughing etc.)

    This is the best piece I've ever seen on Macleans. <<< wipes away tears…. gasps for breath >>>

    • OK, I admit, THAT line should have clued me in.

      LOL

      • Personally, I think that Those Who Go South for medical care should be allowed to marry, or at least enter into civil unions. This is no longer the era of 20 or 30 years ago when such things could have ended a person's career.

        Seriously, you weren't sure until the final line?

        • I guess I'm too used to dueling with fellow commenters, and I'd forgotten that Mr. Coyne is both sane and rational. The fact that other intelligent commenters like CR also thought he was serious gives me comfort. And it's not like we were wrong to think there are Canadians who would seriously think this way. Look at how many comments there are here saying "Yeah, Coyne's right!!! Why is the socialist MSM burying this story??? I guess it doesn't fit into their "communism is great!" meme. MAN THE BARRICADES!!!"

          • Yes, I admit the comments were almost as funny as the original piece. Almost. I was laughing so hard I started to cry. Or maybe it was the other way round.

          • You're not correct about the piece.

          • Stop, you're killing me!

          • If confusing your readers is the goal, then you have succeeded.

          • Well, if people want to Go South together, who am I to stop them? I do insist though, that the government not ratify this sort of behavior by licensing it at citizens' expense. It may not be my business what Williams does in the privacy of his own clinic, but that doesn't mean I should have to publicly approve of it!

            Also, I think there is a disturbing trend in the "Go South" movement of trying to silence opponents in this debate by labeling them "Southophobes".

  17. …as long as you're fully insured.

    • Incorrect, friend, and I know this from personal experience. If you need treatment, they treat you. They sort out the insurance problem later.

      • Hmm. So the whole transplant thing I have would be fully funded up front, and I could just pay later? Cuz I like, really NEEDED treatment.

        That's funny, because my surgeon was a recent U.S. émigré, and said he was enjoying working in a system where his patients didn't need to submit a payment plan for anti-rejection meds before the hospital board would approve a transplant. Guess he was just lying to me, then.

        • Let me clarify: if you need treatment immediately, they treat you and sort out the payment issues later.

          In my case, while an undergrad I once had to be rushed to hospital by a friend. Being Canadian I had no US insurance plan, but I did have a travel plan…however no one knew about this except me and my family – my friends taking me in did not. The hospital asked for insurance, was told that I didn't seem to have any, and then treated me. We sorted the whole thing out when I recovered later on.

          Interestingly enough I had the opposite experience in Canada later on. I was accompanying a fellow Canadian to hospital for emergency treatment (she was in labour). There was a problem with her health card – it was out of date and the new one had not arrived yet. The hospital refused to provide treatment unless she could either pay up front or provide the new health card info. In the end, while she was in hard labour, we were able to get the new health code over the phone from someone at Health Canada and go ahead with the birth…otherwise she'd have had to pay approx $10K up front.

          I kid you not. This chest-beating about what a great system we have compared to the soulless Americans makes me laugh every time.

      • Yes, but the "sort it out later" is putting you into receivership if you aren't insured!

  18. Danny's a brave fellow. How many people do you know that go to Cleveland this time of year; especially when they don't need to?

  19. In some provinces if services are not available there and you go through the right hoops (board review) they will send you to the US and pay the cost of treatment and the flights, the patient still has to pay for room and food.

  20. There's something wrong about the fact that you have to get on a plane to get the best care in the world

    Yeah, must be awful for all those rural Canadians who have to fly into one of our major urban centres for treatment.

    More seriously, the reality is that medical discoveries happen world wide, because of the way we expect people to learn them and they be tested they do not propagate quickly, and sometimes the newest and "best" solution is only available at a single location for a long period of time. Public or Private – neither system changes that fact.

    At the same time, the general reason people go south is not "better" in terms of quality but "quicker" in terms of time and that's entirely their own decision and their money to spend. That being said, no one's ever been able to give me a good argument why someone with money should be able to jump ahead of me in the queue to my detriment for that reason alone.

    • No one's ever been able to give me a good argument why someone with money should be able to jump ahead of me in the queue to my detriment for that reason alone.

      People with more money than you are more important than you. It's not rocket science.

    • Hey dave, interesting how you feel you're so importand that instead of hitting the reply button you need to be down here.

      Anyway,,,

      Here's a thought: if you think it's ok for someone to jump the queue, then why are you forcing him to hop on a plane to do it? Is the plane ride the penalty fare? Is the fact that you end up so far from home your penance? Do queue jumpers owe a fee to Air Canada? Queue jumping is OK if it is twice as expensive as it needs to be? Why is it legal for Danny to fly down there, but it's illegal for Danny to fly the doctor up here?

    • The question is wrong.

      Why is there a queue?

      Why do waiting lists save money?

      Derek

      • Waiting lists save the single-payer health care system money when people give up or die. The cost to society as a whole is incalculable.

  21. Williams's preference in health care is nobody's business, and should remain, as far as possible, a private matter between him and his God.

    But He is His god.

    • so, no problem then.

    • Jack, "He" and "His" should have been capitalized there; it's Danny Williams you're talking about.

  22. I don't understand why the media is so bent out of shape. Couldn't they wait to find out why and be sure he got through it okay before pouncing on the man?

    I understand Williams does not take a salary or donates his salary.

    My brother-in-law (has a condo they stay in every winter) had a heart attack on the golf course. He has all the insurance bobbles and was operated in Florida because there was no time for him to come home. He said the hospital was great but no better than in Canada.

    The insurace company (as soon as he was ready – only a few days) flew him home and had an ambulance waiting to take him directly to a heart doctor (arranged by his family doctor) to continue his care – why? It was cheaper for the insurance company to do that than keep in the Florida hospital.

    • "Cheaper" becuase it's "free" in Canada right?

      Rather because we already paid for his healthcare in Canada via taxes and they were shipping him back to recoup it.

      You get what you pay for. There is no free ride. I've been to US hospitals, and only the state ones are comparible to ours. Their private hospitals, which most Americans use, are far, far superior. "Hallway medicine" just doesn't exist there.

      Here, old or sick folks lining hallways in humiliating fashion, is the norm.

      • Oh Biff, get over yourself. Did you not read that my brother-in-law PAID for all the extra insurance bobbles? He does every year in case. He spends the winter in Florida.

        He was sent in for emergency quadruple by-pass – if he tried to get home he would have died.

        You truly are a fool.

      • Private Insurance companies still pay for care in Canada biff. Just aren't the primary insurer.

    • Well, you understand wrong. Williams does take a salary. If he gives it away, which he purports to do via his own limelight-seeking charity, he does so for the very same reason he goes to the USA.

      He is rich and can afford it.

  23. Like others, I note the media has actually been covering this, and that it's unlikely to be satire because then it undermines the main point of the article. I do think it "broke" a little late however, but they may have been trying to get more info on the nature of the surgery? Is it even known what it is yet? Apparently the press who haven't been covering it have talked to a doctor who says there's almost nothing that can be done in the states that can't be done in Canada. Or is he getting some non-essential perks or faster service in the U.S.?

    Is it possible that Mr. Williams is so nationalistic towards Newfoundland that he would rather go to the U.S. than another Canadian province?

    • My hypothesis is that it was worse politically for DW to have surgery in Toronto than in the US but likely a wash medically. NFLD is too bloody small to have its own healthcare system — all the scandals they have had is evidence of that — and DW going to another province would be far worse than going to the US. It would be much easier to admit that the Heart Institute (or whatever) at MIT is superior to NFLD care than to admit that Toronto General is.

  24. I suspect the many left leaning commenters here would be much more content with the media covering such important stories as a pooping puffin, or whether harper ate a wafer (both of which attracted more media attention than this startling revelation).

    The meme, portrayed quite accurately (from a leftist point of view, not accurately in the sense that it was honest) by Moore in "Sicko" – that Canada's health system (and Cuba's) is far superior to the US, is a central the statists world view,

    and so it is no surpirse that Andrew is recieving condemnation from the statists for describing the elephant in the room.

  25. That elephant being that wealthy Canadians routinely go to the US for treatment.

    And, contrary to the Star Reporter's blathering defence on Fox's Greta Van Sustern the other night,

    the fact that they so go speaks for itself. If you want "the best" in many areas, or if you don't want to wait months or years for more mundane surgery, say to alleviate pain via hip replacement, you drop a few thousand dollars and go to the US and have it done immediately.

    • ..and if you don't have those $1,000 you're SOL.

    • You watch Fox news. This explains a lot.

  26. Our excellent, superior system in Canada (I'm physically holding my nose up in the air as I type this for added condescention and narcissism effect),

    allows me to spend ten thousand dollars on booze or gambling, or just buying ten grand worth of bubble gum,

    But makes it a crime to pay a doctor ten thousand dollars to have my poor suffering mother have her hip replaced (we must, after all, suffer equally together, it is the only Canadian thing to do).

    So we fly to the US, going to the "inferior" system.

  27. Farrah Fawcett, an American, hopped on a plane to German seeking the best care in the world for colon cancer. A former colleague of mine, a Canadian, also did go to Germany to seek treatment for the same cancer.
    They didn't care about statist v private medicine – they wanted the best available out there and they could pay for it.

    There is no such thing as a system that produces only the best – there's a lot of crappy doctors in the US and in Canada and in Germany. But a system cannot be devised to produce ten Einsteins per country. Same goes for medicine.

    If Danny Williams was seeking treatment for colon cancer instead and had elected to go to Germany, would Andrew Coyne write a column praising the merits of the German state healthcare system?

  28. It is a sad state of affairs if the person ultimately responsible for the level of health care offered in his Province is the one to say trough this act something like:"Our health care is good enough for you, but I am entitled to a better level. Sorry that you all have to pay for it;- it's the way the ball bounces." And that from the Premier of the Province whose cancer-care is the worst in Canada according to a nation-wide newspaper ! It's one thing to seek medical help outside your Province at your own expense; – but quite another to do so on taxpayers money ! Would it not be nice to have a regulation that says: " You legislated it ,you live with it ! And no exceptions !" But then again, I almost forgot, we live in Canada.

    • Danny Williams has worked hard enough and made enough money to seek the best treatment in the world. That is the lesson that we should understand from his seeking treatment in the US. If you want the best treatment in the world, get rich.

      You may have a disease one day for which you will be free and wealthy enough to seek the best treatment in the world – which could be found in the US or in a country with a statist healthcare, as in the Farrah Fawcett example.

  29. Coyne, sometimes you are just the biggest disappointment, If one chooses to enter the public arena especially as a Politician then surely your choices, when they are made in light of major Public Policies(and is anything more MAJOR in Canada than Health Care) are on the table and open for debate and comment. Politicians are not like you and me they are elected to lead and that includes by example Williams deserves to be roasted and roundly so for this adventure. For me it highlights clearly just how superior he feels and I cannot understand why he isn't being openly pilloried for it; I find it hard to believe that either Harper or Ignatieff would be treated so gently.

    • " I cannot understand why he isn't being openly pilloried for it"

      Let me help you understand……Danny is a ally when it comes to our lamestream media. He attacks Harper at every turn, so fights the good fight. That is ALL you need to know!

  30. What I don't understand is that it is a well known fact in the medical community that we have some of the best cardiology facilities in the world. In fact, the Institut de Cardiologie de Montreal ranked rather high in Forbes' world ranking list.

    I'm sure that Williams had his reasons but if he was under the impression that Canada couldn't offer him the care that he needed, that's just plain ignorance on his part.

  31. Also, I have no idea how Andrew Coyne thinks that the media is ignoring this issue. I have heard nothing but Danny Williams on the news for the last 4 days.

  32. Would it blow all of your minds if I told you that Andrew's post had absolutely nothing to do with Danny Williams?

    • Turn out the lights, put on "Dark Side of the Moon" and read this blog post.

      THAT will blow your mind.

    • I'm pretty sure nobody would even notice at this point. I'd have been entirely oblivious if I didn't have Twitter.

    • I first read this post last night and I had impression Coyne was trying to tell us something without being explicit what his point was. We were supposed to read through lines.

      Silver – you wrote earlier "What makes the "Danny Williams" story particularly interesting is that it was someone from his own team that let the info of his affinity for American healthcare slip, and then it was quickly ignored by the media (as opposed to an opposition member of parliament or a reporter playing gotcha)."

      So you and Coyne are saying msm knew about this earlier and did not report on it?

    • To some extent I think it's unfair for a guy to use subtle humour when he so often fails to laugh at my jokes.

        • This is giving me a headache. But really, Andrew, do you think we should be outing "Danny," now that it's out there? To what end?

          • And if you DO think we should, why didn't YOU?

          • I just think it's creepy for the whole media to be collectively pretending something is not public knowledge when it is. It made sense twenty years ago, and I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to report it, but neither does it make much sense to take such elaborate pains to avoid mentioning it. It struck me that the best way to point out how strange this omerta is was to abide by it.

          • I know you're no coward — it takes a brave man to wear some of those skinny ties I've seen you in on TV — but that seems like a bit of a weaselly way to break code, ie by not breaking it. Anyway, what kind of "elaborate pains" have we taken to avoid talking about it? we never write about whom MPs are dating — um, I mean, what kind of health care premiers prefer — unless they date celebrities or bring them to cabinet swearings-in (sorry, I can't figure out a Danny Williams analogy for that last bit). so why should it come up now?

  33. The reality that Andrew Coyne should address here is that when you are wealthy you can make choices that you would not be able to make if you were poor. In healthcare. In the type of car you drive. In the home you live in. On your vacation destination, etc…

  34. Why is this being framed as a ‘preference' for American health care?

    From what I understand the surgery he needs isn't available in Newfoundland. If so, it's not a preference, his choice to go out-of-province is a necessity. (Though, why he chose to go to Boston rather than Halifax or Montreal would be an interesting question).

    Newfoundland has 500,000 people. Canada has 30 million. The US has more than 300 mil. As well, the US economy is the world's biggest economy (outside of the EU – though comparing the two is apples to oranges). Even if we turned our health care system into the libertarian paradise some demand, people would still be traveling to the US for Health Care.

    The different provincial health plans do occasionally send people out-of-province, including to the US. There are always going to be procedures and treatments that are more readily available there.

    I also don't understand why the Canadian system is considered to have failed because rich people cannot jump the queue here.

  35. If only Canada was a mature enough country to have a sensible discussion about enabling a second tier of medical care within our own borders. Since it will not, that second tier will remain outside our borders.

    • Having that discussion is the political equivalent of throwing yourself in front of a bus. Williams deserves the best care he can afford, wherever he can afford it. That said, he still pays lip service to medicare and invokes Tommy Douglas when it's politically convenient. The hypocrisy should be the story, not that fact he was having surgery in the US.

      • Like I said, if only Canada was a mature enough country…

    • Baby steps myl. Let's get past the private provision of services within a single payer system first (I know that's happening now of course, in many contexts, but I mean let's get to the point where it is widely understood and excepted, and not confined to a relatively few very specific examples). Then we can move on to a debate about tiers (which I think is legitimately a much more complicated debate).

      • Right, then, so a portion of our economic output will continue to support the health care industry in the USA. Sort of like a reverse (perverse) form of protectionism. No! You are prohibited by law from consuming private health care here. Go do it over there instead. Brilliant.

        • Yes, exactly. You can jump the queue, but only with a plane flight. So you can only jump it from 10 000 feet. But then, it's prefectly OK. My head spins that people seem to think this is a good way to be doing things.

          • Good news, scf. A substantial number of Canadians live within an hour's drive of the border. So the second tier is only slightly less inaccessible than you suggest.

            Assuming we are permitted to discuss the Canadian health care system in a Coyne post that mentions the Canadian health care system when it actually isn't about the Canadian health care system.

          • Assuming we are permitted to discuss the Canadian health care system in a Coyne post that mentions the Canadian health care system when it actually isn't about the Canadian health care system.

            I'd say that horse is WAAAAY out of the barn. (Or is it a jacket out of the closet?)

          • LOL, I've just been barging on and talking about the health system, despite the fact we are so off-topic :-)

          • My own point s_c_f is simply that you should be careful what you wish for when attempting to convince the nation to rectify the silly little bit of cognitive dissonance that you quite rightly point out.

            When you write "You can jump the queue, but only with a plane flight. So you can only jump it from 10 000 feet and you must land on the other side of the border. But if you do that, it's perfectly OK." I understand the problem you're trying to address, but I simply fear that if you try to get the country to address it in one move, the argument that may win is "s_c_f's right! It shouldn't be 'OK' for rich people to jump the queue by using their money to fly outside of our borders. We need to find a way to make that illegal!!!"

          • I agree, and you are correct that there are two ways to approach that problem, one of them being the method employed by the former Communist bloc.
            I would hope that people who impose an ideology on others would eventually relinquish their zeal when exposed to the cognitive dissonance, rather then doubling down.

          • I do think we need to acknowledge that people who are uncomfortable with tiers have a legitimate point as well. It's not just a concern about the second tier being better, it's about the diversion of resources from one tier to another possibly making the first tier much, much worse.

            There are people on the extremes of course, but those of us in the mushy middle probably don't have much of a problem at all with rich people being able to get absolutely the best world-beating treatment that money can buy, the concern is that this unfettered ability could have the unintended consequence of poor people receiving ENTIRELY INADEQUATE healthcare, and dying as a result. We'd all love to have a system that can provide the broad spectrum of world class care that's available in the U.S. if you can afford it, but there's a dark side to the U.S. system as well that needs to be acknowledged, and I don't think it's unreasonable for us to have a debate which attempts to find a balance between people being able to get absolutely the best care they can afford, and people having to declare bankruptcy in order to get the care that they need.

          • I don't like the diversion of resources argument. We have no shortage of dentists, nor a shortage of veterinarians. Yet we have a shortage of doctors.

            And in fact it does take just a day for a dog to get an MRI, while a human must wait months.

            The single tier single payer system is what actually creates the lack of resources. This has been the case time and time again in all socialist systems everywhere.

            Also, replicating the US system is not the argument I would make. However, there is something to be said for the one system in the world that attracts those who wish to get the best care in the world. When it comes to innovation and quality, the US has no peer. However, there are many health systems in the OECD that are clearly superior to ours. Ours is the only system in the world that prevents individuals from paying for services. I've heard good things about the system in France, the system in Japan. The fact that people refuse to acknowledge this is detrimental, and is simply a blind adherence to ideology and nationalism.

          • You don't like the argument? Tough – it's entirely valid. The old canard about "two-tiered" systems in Europe would be more relevant if public funding were not even higher there. Only about 70% of health care spending in Canada comes from the public purse, at least 10% lower than most countries in Western Europe. While the US has many fine hospitals, there is nothing about the "system" that attracts anyone. Few Americans have access to the Cleveland Clinic.

          • You don't like the argument? Tough – it's entirely valid. The old canard about "two-tiered" systems in Europe would be more relevant if public funding were not even higher there. Only about 70% of health care spending in Canada comes from the public purse, at least 10% lower than most countries in Western Europe. While the US has many fine hospitals, there is nothing about the "system" that attracts anyone. Few Americans have access to the Cleveland Clinic.

        • For the record, I don't necessarily disagree with your point, and it's CERTAINLY a debate we need to have, I just mean to point out that, for Pete's sake, the private provision of healthcare WITHIN A SINGLE PAYER SYSTEM is still controversial, and would appear to still not have majority support (mostly because people don't understand the issue, I suspect). My point is simply that, as frustrating as it may be, I don't think you're ever going to get the country where you want us to be by trying to get the country to just jump right to where you want us to be.

          Frankly, as silly as it is, you're more likely to get people arguing "Yeah, myl's right! We need to figure out a way to make it illegal for rich people to leave the country and pay to skip the queue by scurrying outside of our borders!!!"

          • You have a dimmer of view of this country's population than I do. You really think we would have an easier time pushing us even CLOSER to Cuba and North Korea than we already are, healthcare-system-wise? Shudder…

    • I don;t get this mature country thing? Name me one country capable of having a mature national discussion about anything.

      Britain? In the middle of the worst recession since electricity, the UK is busying itself by humiliating Tony Blair at an apparently endless series of public hearings.

      The United States? In the summer guys were showing up armed to town hall meetings on health care, I guess to demonstrate their willingness to die for the right to be charged 800$ for an ambulance ride.

      France hasn't had a mature disscussion about anything since Louis IX declared himself King of the sun.

      China is arguably the most mature country of all and it has outlawed all discussion, mature or not.

  36. The health system here forbids us from paying for it. Hence, rich people like Danny skirt that issue by flying south. The rest of us languish, unable to hop on a jet plane. Some of us are more equal than others.

  37. Hoping for some answers from the believers to these questions:

    If you think it's ok for someone to jump the queue, then why are you forcing him to hop on a plane to do it? Is the plane ride the penalty fare? Is the fact that you go under the knife so far from home your penance? To get visits from friends you need to pay for their flights as well? Do queue jumpers owe a fee to Air Canada? Queue jumping is OK if it is twice as expensive as it needs to be?

    Especially:
    Why is it legal for Danny to fly down there, but it's illegal for Danny to fly the doctor up here?

    • Why is it legal for Danny to fly down there, but it's illegal for Danny to fly the doctor up here?

      As above s_c_f, I think you need to be careful here. There are doubtless many Canadians who would agree that this scenario makes no sense… and that we need to figure out a way to make it illegal for Danny to fly down there for this purpose.

  38. I think you're saying that Williams should not need a license to do this? I certainly agree with that.

  39. Why bother working hard and getting rich if you cannot lord it over people. It's natural that rich children should receive better health care than poor children. The Canadian system represents a perversion of nature.

    If your parents work hard enough to send you to private schools and teach you how to appreciate the finer things like which utensil to use during desert, then you deserve preferential treatment. Rich children should be much, much healthier than poor children. If poor people want fancy medical treatment for their sickly, undernourished children, they should get rich.

    People are poor for a reason. It's a lifestyle choice.

    The rich should not have to use the same services as poor people.

    Why should a rich guy's kid who, for example, has blown his knee out skiing, have to queue up beside, for example, the son of a taxi driver? They should never even come into contact with each other.

    Poor people are disgusting.

    • now that , is snide.

      • And quite accurate!

  40. I’m slowly catching on. This is entirely too subtle, though.

  41. Everyone leave. The pundits want to talk to each other, privately.

    *rolls eyes*

  42. Thanks, I live in Ottawa and this was the first I've heard about Baird's "outing".

  43. Lord, I'm slow. Rob Silver is not. And, in fairness, this point about Danny Williams hasn't exactly been all over the news.

    On the other hand, was Danny's preference a secret? How much of a revelation can it be? As Mr. Coyne says, it's not of much interest in itself, though I suppose it must affect his public stance on healthcare issues and serve to moderate his party's attitude. Frankly I hope he embraces it: there are still a good number of people out there who don't think big, loud, obnoxious, aggressive men can be in favour of outsourcing healthcare, and a glance at Danny will serve to correct their prejudice in that regard.

    • Danny's affinity for American health care wasn't really a revelation to most people in the political bubble, I should think. He himself has been quite open about his American-style preference for years now, and he regularly consults with like-minded individuals at various parties and events. I always thought it was pretty cool that the media never tried to ambush him about his views on health care.

      • Yeah, I hope this doesn't serve to define him in any way. If there's one man who works overtime to define himself in ways that have nothing to do with health care, it's Danny Williams.

        • Good Lord people (lol), while I've finally caught on myself (thank you Chris Selley) can we at least put Danny Williams in quotation marks when our comments are using him as a stand-in for the topic about which this post actually pertains? As everyone HAS heard of the Williams story, and many people (myself included) had NOT heard of the story the post is actually about, these two comments just add to their poor ignorant confusion (and I hasten to add, OF COURSE I knew about the substance of the story everyone's talking about without talking about it – EVERYBODY knows that, even if it's not always acknowledged – I hadn't heard of the latest episode to make that substance more public, which is why the parallel established by the post flew right over my head).

          I feel relieved that I'm not as obtuse as I was beginning to think I might be! I don't think I can be expected to understand that a blog post ostensibly about story X is really about story Y if I haven't heard about story Y.

          • I'm also with you. I heard about John, considered the news completely uninteresting, and forgot about it, and frankly, I think there are things about the Danny story that reporters have avoided, and I also think there is almost nothing to report about John, so I don't consider myself obtuse for missing the "joke".

          • I'm with you, LKO. I hadn't even heard of Story Y (the radio "outing") when I read Coyne's piece the first time. Subtle insider humour – but very funny, once you're in on the joke.

  44. I understand the basic point, AC – Danny's choice shouldn't be a big deal. But by dressing him up in borrowed clothes, aren't you really acknowledging that – for better or worse – it is? Or at least that it's ultimately up to Danny to decide how big a deal it is, and what to do about it? And yet if you recognize that much, why dress him up in such a way that at least some folks – most folks, as it turned out – wouldn't recognize him, leading other folks to undress him entirely? With the result that you've made his choice for him, no?

  45. This post obfuscates, rather than clarifies the issue. Couldn't you (Coyne) just come out and say that it's weird no one reported that Baird is gay instead of dancing around the issue like a fairy? Just kidding with the "like a fairy" part — that was gratuitous.

  46. I just figured this one out. Heck of a wink-wink-nudge-nudge, and it's brilliant. I've oft wondered about this cone of silence. Who was maintaining it, "Danny Williams", orders from a higher (political) power or the media? As was pointed out, quite correctly, he's doesn't go to very great pains to hide it.

  47. Hmmm …. The best way to rebel against stifling conformity is to conform?

    That's just crazy enough to work!

    Someone should have told the hippies, though. We would have been spared the drum circles and organic food.

  48. I don't think it's weird at all.

    Has anyone reported that Stephen Harper spits when he eats? Because he does. If you sit across the table from him you have to wear a facemask.

    Also: his hair isn't real, that's a wig he's wearing.

    Where are the stories on that?

    • And word has it, Harper goes commando, unless it's Friday when"Danny" is delivering the Whiskas.

      • The public needs to know.

    • Has anyone reported that Stephen Harper spits when he eats? Because he does. If you sit across the table from him you have to wear a facemask.

      I tend to agree with the broader point you're making, but I know that there are people out there who will argue (in some ways correctly I think) that the difference is that Stephen Harper's government doesn't simultaneously take the policy position that people who spit when they eat shouldn't have the same rights as people who don't.

  49. Perhaps some federal cabinet minister from Ontario could be asked about Danny Williams's preference. Maybe one of the younger ones?

    • Are you making a snide comment?

      Because that is not nice.

  50. Well, you and Coyne should hook up and head to the bars and lauch your arses off all day long.

  51. A very clever piece, Andrew. It is a debate worth having. Too bad it is so in-the-closet that most people reading your post will have no idea what you are referring to. I would point out that this is a question that affects a number of politicians from a number of different political parties — not just the one you are referring to.

    • For my part, I was ENTIRELY aware of the substance of what the post (it turns out) is about (and everyone I know knows this, and I didn't even think it was really a matter people discussed, not because it shouldn't be discussed, but because EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS it) but I too had no idea what Mr. Coyne was talking about because I hadn't heard the story about the CBC radio incident (and I do follow politics pretty closely, as everyone here does).

      I do agree that most people reading the post had no idea what the post was referring to (including several journalists and pundits apparently – Chris Sulley referred to it as "quite possibly the most inscrutable blog post in the history of the Canadian media") but not because people are unaware of the substance of the story that's the actual basis for the post, but simply because they hadn't heard about what happened on CBC radio (due to the media not really talking about it), and so why on EARTH would their minds connect the Danny Williams story to that story if they hadn't heard the other story?

      • It's ok LKO. Really, we don't think you're slow just because you missed this one for a while.

  52. About a year ago, my husband subscribed to a private clinic here in Vancouver. The clinic bills the provincial medical services plan the same rate for services that all doctors in BC are allowed to bill. But subscribers pay an annual membership fee on top of the rates billed under the public health insurance scheme.

    The quality of the care that my husband receives from the private clinic is much, much superior to that which he received from his GP and the system before he joined the clinic.

    A doctor at his clinic tells me that every Liberal and Conservative MP and MLA that lives in Vancouver is a subscriber to one of the two major private clinics in town. I do not have direct access to the facts and I would guess that the word "every" might be an exaggeration. But I would also guess that the word "most" might not.

    By definition, fedearl and provincial elected officials are among the top 10% of Canadian income-earners.

    So we clearly already have two-tier medicine in Canada. Those who can pay get better service. Elected officials are in the "can and do pay" category.

    • Not in Ontario.

      Extra-billing (what the Vancouver clinics are doing) is illegal here.

    • Extra-billing is also illegal in BC and it's debatable whether such clinics will be allowed to operate under that scheme for much longer (in short, it is illegal to charge specifically for access).

  53. Are all of you completely dense? You're clearly not getting all the hints in this article and on the comment pages, so why don't I spell it out for you:

    'Danny Williams' is a euphenism for John Baird. This article is about John Baird being outed on CBC by PC Candidate Pam Taylor, and how the media has been silent on the matter.

    Jesus.

    • You're a homophobe for mentioning it.

    • Why do you hate our troops?

      • That has to be the best comment on the thread.

  54. Chris Selley – Nat Post

    "On his Maclean's blog, Andrew Coyne suggests it's a little strange how nobody at the major media outlets seems to be paying much attention to the, uh, personal information about John Baird recently mentioned by an Ontario Progressive Conservative candidate on CBC Radio — especially considering how much attention they have devoted to Mr. Williams. (At least we think that's what he's doing. It is quite possibly the most inscrutable blog post in the history of the Canadian media, and we'll freely admit to having consulted some colleagues for guidance on the matter.) "

    • As for Baird, it seems to me the MSM don't want to talk about Baird because this reduces their ability to play the "Conservatives are homophobes" card which is a part of their favourite old scary hidden agenda card, where abortions will be outlawed, gays will be thrown in prison, CBC employees will be tortured, and we will all be forced to attend bible class.

      http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Harpers_new_sp

      • “If our system is the best, why are you going elsewhere? If the answer is that you need to jump the queue because you're really sick, and Canadian law makes it impossible here, aren't you admitting we've established a system particularly favourable to the very wealthy?”

        I agree 100% with Robson and was one of the reasons why I was confused about Coyne's post. Williams story received lots of msm attention but few talked about issue like Robson did. I thought Coyne's elephant in the room was same as Robson – that no one is talking about how our health care system works. I also didn't get Coyne's point because the msm maintains a baffling silence on many topics, not just Baird.

        I think msm is more worried about privacy issues or have convinced themselves the hoi polloi can't handle truth because we are a bunch of rubes or somesuch. Teneycke writes below – "this is a question that affects a number of politicians from a number of different political parties" – other MPs in similar situation.

        • “If our system is the best, why are you going elsewhere? If the answer is that you need to jump the queue because you're really sick, and Canadian law makes it impossible here, aren't you admitting we've established a system particularly favourable to the very wealthy?”

          Exactly.

          Yes, the one part of that line that lefties will jump on is the "you need to jump the queue because you're really sick". That's where they will say that the doctors know best, that they'll put you at the front of the queue if you're really sick, and that you have right to question their decision. If you have a painful and degenerative hip, or a non-fatal growth in the brain, and the doctor says that you must live with it, then you have no recourse.

          So, once again, that's the part where we are painted as a bunch of rubes that should hand over control of our own health to our superiors and betters, the doctors and the politicians. If they say we must live with the pain and/or uncertainty, well, that's that.

          And yes, I am on the exact same page as you about Williiams. That is exactly that I said in an earlier comment, that many have reported on Williams, but most that did seem to accept the Williams decision as nothing but an anecdote to report on, and that there was nothing else to talk about. It's like it's simply become part of the landscape, that rich people in Canada fly to the US for their treatment when they have a serious condition. When it comes to the many senseless aspects of our health system, most people want to ignore them and simply remain silent, blindly adhering to an ideology.

          I also agree 100% that the media maintains a self-imposed silence on any number of issues, and that it's nothing unusual at all.

        • One more thing about
          “If our system is the best, why are you going elsewhere? If the answer is that you need to jump the queue because you're really sick, and Canadian law makes it impossible here, aren't you admitting we've established a system particularly favourable to the very wealthy?”

          This is always the end result of socialist systems. The end result is always a system far more unfair and far less egalitarian than the original free market. Socialism always results in scarcity, and always results in a system where the powerful have more rights than everyone else. You always end up with a system where people need to make connections and pull strings, where the only way to get favourable treatment is to know the right people and to be in the right social circles, or to simply have a pile of cash to fall back on, like Williams.

          • I am on way out of door so don't have time to type much but I just finished reading Lords of Finance – awesome book – and it got me thinking how capitalism has paid for the fascists to take our freedoms away from us.

            Democracies won WWII but fascists dominated the next seventy years. Communists, socialists, social dems have nothing to complain about – State controls business, health, education and many other sectors. Left wing types are more about envy – want to take peoples money – rather than anything to do with actually helping people.

  55. Are we talking about Pierre Pettigrew and his chauffeur?

    Are we talking about Stephen Harper and his stylist?

  56. Duh, I'm very slow as well. And I remember blagging about this, accidentally helping to set off a s*** storm on Coyne's old blog back when the Tories were first elected in '06! So, it seems the media will retain a cone of silence as long as said MP(s) don't vote in a "hypocritical" way, and it seems so far that no MP(s) did, when it came to SSM for instance. Someone like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist however is fair game.

  57. Every man try too get comfort according to his own choice,same is the case with Williams,he should choose US treatment for quick health.

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