What kind of week has it been? Round 2

Once again, our esteemed federal government has handed us a veritable flood of exciting politics news. This isn’t the kind of excitement that I usually get happy about – it’s the type that makes the adage “may you live in interesting times” a curse rather than a blessing. We’ll skip my usual preamble and just get right to the good stuff.

Mom without medicare gives birth in hotel

A Scottish woman married to a Canadian wound up having their baby in a hotel room — across the street from a Vancouver hospital — after she couldn’t get provincial health-care coverage. “Luckily it all went OK and I was able to cope with the pain,” said Lynne Aitchison, who delivered baby Ziggy in the hotel bathtub, without medication or complications.


However, the province told her she couldn’t have any medical coverage because she couldn’t get a letter from the federal Immigration Department verifying her application. She said Citizenship and Immigration refused to give her anything in writing because her application was sitting in a pile with thousands of others, unopened.

So first of all, I need to state unequivocally that I am opposed to naming your child ‘Ziggy’. No child, no matter how untimely, deserves to be stuck with that name. That being said, obviously the greater crime is that someone who, for the want of a letter from the government, was refused medical coverage and had to deliver Ziggy in the bathtub of a hotel overlooking the hospital. Perhaps all of the relevant information is contained within this graph:

Graph of immigration backlog

Now if I am interested in being fair (and I usually am), I will have to take Jason Kenney’s word that the problem is that the immigration system is antiquated and needs to be modernized. Even granting that statement as true, there are two things to keep in mind: 1) it has been a problem that started getting worse in 2005 (gee, when did Stephen Harper take power again?) and 2) it has been getting worse, not better, over time. Considering how vital immigration is to Canada’s civic health (and that the economic downturn didn’t seem to affect the backlog), one needs to ask where the government’s priorities have been, that they let the situation deteriorate to this level. Were they asleep?

Why does Tory MP Rob Anders keep falling asleep on the job?

Jim Lowther, president of Veterans Emergency Transition Services, said he was dumbfounded when Calgary MP Rob Anders slept through the group’s presentation on supporting homeless veterans Tuesday in Halifax.

“He was out like a light for about five minutes,” Mr. Lowther said. “He came in late, didn’t ask any questions and then fell asleep. Wow … I couldn’t believe my eyes.” Mr. Anders – the same MP caught falling asleep during Question Period in November in a video that went viral – rubbished Mr. Lowther’s claims.

So this is only funny if you’re particularly cynical. Disrespecting veterans is no laughing matter, especially to a party that has traditionally cast itself as the ‘pro-military’ group. Canada is currently engaged in a war, and as long as politicians are scoring points on the backs of its soldiers, it would be nice if those politicians could at least keep their eyes open long enough to pretend as though they cared. Mr. Anders’ appalling level of disrespect is not funny.

This is:

Instead of explaining his behaviour, Mr. Anders accused the veterans advocates of being “in the pocket” of NDP MP Peter Stoffer. “They praised Vladimir Putin, at one point, for the way he deals with veterans, and then he just went on and on praising Peter Stoffer,” Mr. Anders said. “[Mr. Lowther] is the same guy who tried to crash one of the Prime Minister’s rallies and is on NDP press releases.”

It was all the NDP’s fault! They screwed Rob Anders again by being so boring that he fell asleep, and then they cleverly acted reasonably offended in order to trap the totally innocent MP in his cleverly-orchestrated gaffe. Once again, in the name of fairness, Mr. Anders claims that his narcolepsy is a symptom of a car accident. That may very well be true, and it is certainly not his fault if he has a medical condition. However, unless ‘being an asshole’ is also a symptom of the accident, the disrespect charge sticks.

CSIS OK’d to share data despite torture risk

The federal government has given Canada’s spy service the go-ahead to provide information to foreign agencies even when there is a “substantial risk” it will lead to torture, a newly released document shows. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews outlines instructions for sharing information in such cases in a four-page directive to Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Dick Fadden. A copy of the July 2011 directive — secret until now — was released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

So there are very few Conservative cabinet members that I can actually stand as human beings. Most of them, based on all the information I have about how they think and how they behave in public, are despicable. But there’s a special place in my heart for Vic “torture is a Canadian value now” Toews. Above and beyond the arch hypocrisy and eagerness to deflect by way of bullying he displayed during the now-notorious “Vikileaks” issue (where publicly-available details about the despicable circumstances leading up to his divorce were released via a Twitter account that was linked to a Liberal party staffer), he seems to have absolutely no shame or sense of human decency when it comes to whether or not it’s okay to torture people.

I would love to have to scour the net for these kinds of stories. There are people who meticulously comb through the news outlets and secret releases and a whole host of other things to expose scandals like this. Any one of these, in a sane universe, would be enough to take these politicians down. But, when filtered through the reality of the apathy of the Canadian electorate, these (and others) don’t even crack their support a little. We don’t live in a sane world – and thus we are cursed to live in interesting times.

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  1. ischemgeek says

    I’m horribly ashamed to admit that in my younger, more-brainwashed, and more sheltered days, I thought parties like the Reform-Alliance-Conservative party had the right of things.

    Then I grew up, went into the real world and realized that 1) the world wasn’t as brightly shiny ideal as I was thinking it was. Inequality, prejudice, racism, homophobia and other bigotry exist, they are a big fucking problem and pretending we’re beyond them will only make them worse. 2) you can’t honestly hold the position that helping out those weaker than you is a good thing while thinking that welfare and social health care should be abolished, and 3) stuff like freedom of speech, equality, and freedom of religion are more important than my desire to plink away at cans with pistols when I visit my dad back home. Therefore, given my choice between supporting a party that has an at-best bad track record on human rights and supporting a party that tends to want to eliminate a fun hobby for me, I’ll take the hit on my hobby. I know many people who whom hobby is somehow held in higher esteem than whether or not their elections are fixed, how much money goes to science programs that the current government disagrees with, and the fact that our current prime minister has ammassed more power to his office than any before him in the history of this country.

    And the funny thing is that around here, it’s the conservatives accusing people who support other parties of childishness.

  2. dianne says

    That’s one disadvantage of universal health insurance, I suppose: no obvious need for laws mandating care for people who can’t pay and require immediate assistance. In the US, the woman in question could have delivered in the hospital first, asked financial questions later. (Yes, they would send a bill. No, they don’t expect you to actually pay it. No one does. It’ll get written off. Just go get your epidural and monitoring already.)

    So, does Canada need a law mandating emergency care for people without paperwork for a stopgap measure until this backlog is taken care of? Also, google tells me that Canada’s unemployment rate is 7.6%. Hire some of the unemployed to take care of your backlog already.

  3. says

    Vic “torture” Toews is almost as good as Laurie “Red Dawn” Yawn (who warned of a Russian threat during the 2012 Olympics). Look up the history of Rob Anders – he refused unanimous consent to a motion recognizing Nelson Mandela, who he considers a terrorist. He’s so awful the residents of his Calgary riding tried to boot him from a nomination but the Party stepped in, screwed over the local constituency association and ensured he would remain MP – proving you can paint a pig blue and it will get elected in Calgary (no offense intended to pigs).

  4. says

    Anyone can go to a Canadian hospital and get a bill (like in the US). This woman likely didn’t want to continue dealing with bureaucracy.

  5. dianne says

    Ah, thanks. So maybe the simpler maneuver would be to give people who are in the backlog a pending status where they didn’t have to pay or bother with the bureaucracy until a decision on their case was made and then either they or the NHS gets a bill, depending on what the answer was.

  6. Richard Simons says

    My experience with Citizenship and Immigration (through trying to help a friend immigrate) is that they are dreadful. The web site is poorly planned and gives contradictory information and the single phone number is always busy, with no queuing system (the only time I was put on hold was when they had already closed for the weekend). Written communication from them has been extremely ill-mannered and frequently contradicted information given on the web site.

    My friend had to get documentation from a third-world country that had gone through a civil war, with the application being voided if she did not meet their deadline which required a faster response than they themselves say they will meet.

    While I was living in Namibia, a bag was stolen containing my British passport (I have dual citizenship). It was replaced in two weeks, together with an apology for it taking so long as the original had been issued by the consulate in Ottawa so three agencies were involved. At about the same time, my wife had a routine renewal of her Canadian passport. It took six weeks.

    BTW, during my struggles with C&I, I found a questionnaire, ‘We want to hear your views.’ I went through the whole thing, answering questions about my age, where I lived, etc, but at no point did they actually ask for my views. I consider the whole system to be riddled with self-satisfied incompetence.

  7. says

    Prince Edward Island is a small place; the population here is only about 140,000. We elect 27 provincial MLAs and 4 federal MPS. We also have 4 appointed senators. PEI is also a region that has a very static population, with connections by blood, school attendance, work places, etc bring a Bacon number of about 2 to most islanders.

    This means that a large percentage of the population has a personal or 1-2 person removed relationship with your local politician. We are fully aware of all of the foibles of our elected and potentially elected officials.

    If a contract is given out to a family member or business partner, the whole Island is aware of it. Sleeping around? Probably with the sister of a co-worker of a friend. There are no secrets.

    Still we have managed to elect a high proportion of incompetent officials. My view of politicians on a larger scale has been strongly coloured by my personal experience.

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