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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Showdown He Asked For

Paul Martin's exploitation of Alberta's promised health reforms was the singularly most divisive tactic the Liberals used in the campaign. From the Toronto Star coverage;

The Prime Minister has been daring Klein to make his plans public and has accused the Conservative Alberta premier of cloaking his medicare-threat proposal in a bid to help his "silent partner," Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. Martin has been saying it was ominous that Klein, whom the Liberals described last week as a "public health menace," was proposing to release his plan on June 30, just two days after the federal election.

Klein finally responded, his Health minster stating that the new proposals amounted to little more than increased spending. But it had put Harper on the defensive at a time when the attack ad campaign was in full swing.

Well, congratulations Mr. Martin. It worked. You won. And now you get to back up your challenge that Harper wouldn't defend the Canada Health Act, and you get to back it up by taking on Alberta, just two days after your victory, and with your words fresh in the minds of the electorate.

This morning Ralph Klein unveiled the Alberta health reforms. There are some pretty drastic changes, including a user pay scheme and a 50% cut to health spending growth.

He accused
the federal Liberals of cutting the public system on one hand, while delivering empty promises on how to sustain it.

"They keep saying they'll save medicare but they don't say how," he said as he rolled his eyes."The bottom line is we still need substantive system reform, and we need to know where the federal government stands."

Klein says nothing will be implemented unti the fall, after Albertans have had the opportunity to give the input.

After making the sanctity of public health care front and center in his campaign, what bigger political landmine than to face parliament at war with Alberta over the Canada Health Act, but unable to directly engage Klein about it (consultation period, Mr. Martin) - with the BQ on the side of defending provincial rights to control of health delivery and the NDP demanding he put the hammer down?

Balls in your court, Martin. Let's see what you're made of.

You know, if this were the US, and these were Republicans I'd almost be thinking a Rove rope-a-dope here.


Crossposted at SDA

Posted by Kate McMillan on June 30, 2004 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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Same old hassle every night
All we do is fuss and fight
Ain't no use in talking
Might as well start walking
Walking out into the night

You get your gun, I'll get mine
We can do it just one time...

-J.J. Cale, Really (1972),
"Everything Will Be Alright"

Who knew that Cale was speaking prophetically about the impending affray over medicare, soon to be followed by numerous other issues? He does outline our choices, though: leave; fight; or the unstated, truly Canadian alternative, capitulate and collaborate. Martin's obviously counting on the third, or at least that the fighting will remain purely political. I think this time he has miscalculated badly.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2004-07-01 10:17:53 AM

I've updated this post at my own blog.


I'd do it here, too, but the posts stale off the front page so fast, it's already dated.

Posted by: Kate | 2004-07-01 10:57:26 AM

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