Saturday, 15 March 2008

Thank God for Tommy Douglas

What do you do if you don't have the resources or will to flee Ottawa during March Break? And snow and slush is piled to record levels? And younger daughter has a barking cough which makes her sound more like a Great Dane than a relatively small person should?

This week we rented 3 movies that we've been meaning to see for ages. (Two of them we really wanted to see before the Oscars, but let that pass.) The first was Miss Potter with Renée Zellwegger and Ewan McGregor which was a lovely little confection and I'm rather glad I didn't spend money to see it in a cinema. The second was Michael Clayton with George Clooney, an absorbing thriller which made me realize how pointless the Academy Awards are. (I mean, Atonement, Juno, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood and this? That's like getting an apple, orange, banana, fig, and tomato together and saying: "Right, which is the best fruit?")

Finally, Sicko. Now, I like Michael Moore. He's manipulative and opinionated, but I think on the whole he's on the side of the angels. Bowling for Columbine was an inspired bit of propaganda, and mostly true. Except about Toronto. Believe me, people do lock their doors in Toronto and probably always have. Sicko wasn't telling me anything I didn't already know about the American healthcare system; it just sort of re-horrified me.

Once again, in Sicko, Michael Moore has a bit of a starry-eyed notion about the situation in Canada. Short waits in Emergency? Oh, come on! Just this past week, there was a piece in the paper about a Canadian woman who went to the States for life-saving surgery because she couldn't get the clearance for it up here. My mother has been waiting for cataract surgery for months, and it's really detrimental to her quality of life. Others wait years for hip replacements, and other kinds of so-called "elective surgery".

However, Michael Moore is right in this respect: if I or my loved ones need medical care, we don't have to clear it with an insurance company. What we get may not be perfect (the nightmarish time I spent driving around Ottawa in a cab in search of an arm sling to support a broken clavicle with my daughter vomiting from the pain [the hospital didn't provide slings] springs to mind), but we don't end up in debt up to our eyeballs or being refused care altogether.

The above picture is one I took last October from the vantage point of Tommy Douglas's tomb in Beechwood Cemetery which is about a twenty-minute trot from my front door. Tommy Douglas is considered the father of socialized medicine in Canada, and he was just voted "The Greatest Canadian" in a CBC special last year. I just may make the stroll up to the cemetery again. With a very large bouquet of flowers.

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