When the leader of the official opposition, Michael Ignatieff, pledges a billion dollars for a new plank in his Liberal party’s election platform, does anyone find it somewhat curious that he chooses an extension to our publicly funded healthcare program? Well I do.
Has Mr. Ignatieff’s decades of living abroad dulled his memory of our constitution and its clearly defined separation of areas of legislative authority? Unlike his former home, The United Kingdom, Canada is a federation in which provinces are primarily responsible for health and social services. Perhaps the fact the United Kingdom is more of a unitary state confused Mr. Ignatieff when he acceded to the idea of the federal government appropriating provincial authority over healthcare.
Yet, perhaps we shouldn’t be too critical. The premier of our largest province, Dalton McGuinty seems quite happy to hear a federal politician speak about launching healthcare initiatives. In fact, the only provinces who ever seem to give a damn about provincial rights are Quebec and Alberta. The others seem satisfied to see power concentrated in Ottawa—far from most who are governed by it—and allow provincial powers—nearest to those governed—to atrophy.
If Ottawa is to be responsible for everything and can intervene at will in provincial jurisdictions, why then have an apparently redundant provincial layer of government and the massive costs that entails?
And where are the conservative voices on this matter? Of the many dozens of conservative MPs and MPPs across the country, only Maxime Bernier and the Bloc seem to care about protecting provincial powers.
As for the MSM, they’re so predominantly progressive in their views, they don’t care who taxes whom so long as as much tax as possible gets spent on social programs. Don’t look to that quarter for support of provincial rights.
Do Canadians need or want a billion dollars spent on homecare. Perhaps. But that’s a debate to be held at the local and provincial levels where it can be integrated into already existing healthcare programs. If we add more homecare, perhaps we can save money elsewhere. That something for local and provincial authorities to decide, not some far-off politician or bureaucrat in Ottawa to dictate.
If Mr. Ignatieff really wanted to help, he could campaign for “tax room” to be conceded by Ottawa and offered to the provinces so that provinces can raise their own funding for homecare, should they decide to do so. In other words, lower the federal income tax rate so that provinces can raise theirs by the same amount, if they wish.
And while he’s at it, Mr. Ignatieff should be advocating that the feds get out of healthcare entirely and stop meddling in other areas that they have no constitutional authority to be in. Do we or don’t we want a federal system of government?