Northern Reflections: Praise For Philpott

Jane Philpott has been getting a lot of blow back for a ride she recently took in a supporter’s limousine. It cost, admittedly, much more than public transportation. But Gerry Caplan has come to her defence:

Jane Philpott is exactly the kind of citizen we should want in Parliament: a doctor of medicine, with a masters degree in public health; doctored in Niger, one of the world’s very poorest countries, for a full decade; chief of the department of family medicine at her hospital; central to a Canada-Ethiopia collaboration to develop a training program for family medicine in Ethiopia.
Beyond any formal credentials, she is known among all who work or deal with her for her decency, integrity and deep devotion to her community. She is what the “honourable” in “The Honourable Member” should mean.
And, unlike the former medical minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet, Philpott is trying to do something on the asbestos file:
This month something quite wonderful changed, as Kathleen Ruff has now enthusiastically reported on her website RightOnCanada. She was “extremely encouraged” to learn that Jane Philpott is actively involved with her cabinet colleagues in setting a new policy on asbestos for Canada.
“I was glad to receive a phone call from a policy adviser for Minister Philpott and had a constructive and positive dialogue. I am extremely hopeful that in the next session of Parliament the government will announce its plans to ban asbestos, take measures to protect Canadians from asbestos harm and play a leadership role at the UN in support of the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Convention.”
This is a very big deal after a decade of irresponsibility by the Harper government (including its well-known doctor, Kellie Leitch), and I, too, happily congratulate Dr. Philpott for living up to expectations.
So, yes, the ride in the limo was a mistake. But, Caplan writes, let’s keep things in perspective:
With all the contrived indignation they could muster, opposition critics were swift to leap down her throat, automatic media attention being guaranteed. Canadian Press now immortalizes the entire issue as an “expensive mistake,” referring to “the thousands” Philpott spent “to be chauffeured around in a luxury vehicle owned by a Liberal volunteer.” The actual figure seems to be about $6,500. This says more about Ottawa’s obnoxious political culture than it does about our Minister of Health.
These days, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. 
Image: thechronicleherald.ca
 
Continue reading

Montreal Simon: The Con Media’s Disgusting Attack on the Trudeau Government

Yesterday I wrote about how Rona Ambrose and her Cons were going after the decent Health Minister Jane Philpott for having rented a limo Lexus to travel around the Greater Toronto Area.

Instead of taking a taxi or a bus.

As well as going after the equally decent Environment Minister Katherine McKenna, for the “crime” of having spent about $6,000 on photographs at the Paris climate summit.

Even though the Harper regime spent millions doing the same thing.

But what makes this grotesque assault even more disgusting is the way the Con media are trying to make it look like a major scandal.
Read more »

Continue reading

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– David Dayen wonders whether the Obama administration’s decision to end the use of private prisons might represent the needed start of a movement away from relying on poor corporate services as a substitute for public action:

Private prisons experienced more safety and security incidents. They had higher rates of assaults, inadequate medical checkups and compliance, eight times as many incidents of contraband cell-phone smuggling, and often housed new inmates in solitary confinement units, seemingly for lack of space. The report also detailed several grisly incidents since 2008: three riots in one Reeves County, Texas facility in two months; the death of a corrections officer in a riot in Natchez, Mississippi; and the closure of the Willacy County (Texas) Correctional Center, after inmates burned it to the ground.

It’s not hard to figure out why this happens. Private companies win contracts to manage federal prisons by undercutting the Bureau of Prisons’ operational costs. Unlike the government, private prison companies must also take their profit margins out of their budgets. The only way to make that work is to massively drop labor costs, corresponding to a severe degradation of the quality of prison management.

That reflects the problem with privatization as a whole. Private companies must carry out a government function—be it water, parking meters, mass transit, or K-12 schools—at a lower cost than the government can provide it, while taking their profit off the top. Time and again, the results reveal that to be impossible, at least if you want to provide the same quality of service. Yet we keep privatizing. Whether it’s Republicans expanding Medicaid or cash-strapped cities handing over bus service to Uber and Lyft, eventually costs shift from taxpayers to the users of the services, oversight becomes impotent as officials grow reliant on outsourcing contracts, and attempts to maximize profits lead to service breakdowns.

– But CBC reports that the worst is yet to come in Saskatchewan as Brad Wall has publicly put SaskTel up for corporate raiding.

– Jacki Andre discusses the hidden costs of living with a disability – which make it particularly unconscionable for Wall’s Saskatchewan Party to be trying to squeeze pennies out of people who rely on already-inadequate disability benefits.

– Floyd Perras highlights the multiple factors that contribute to (and exacerbate) homelessness. And Rocca Perla comments on the need to include social determinants of health within medical treatment of patients.

– Pat Rich describes the Canadian Medical Association’s rude awakening in finding out that Lib Health Minister Jane Philpott has no interest in its key priorities for improved care. And Alison points out how the Libs are conspicuously trying to wriggle out of their promise to end the unfairness of first-past-the-post politics.

– Finally, Anna MacDonald makes the case for stronger transparency as a means of limiting the harm of global arms dealing. But if there was any doubt that the Trudeau Libs are firmly on the side of weapons proliferation, Helene Laverdiere points out their inexplicable decision to stand against nuclear disarmament.

Continue reading