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Thursday, 16 August, 2007

Nurses host SiCKO junket, drawing senior Grits, but no Tories

A group of senior federal and Ontario Liberal politicians were by the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO).

Federal opposition leader Stéphane Dion (left), Ontario deputy premier/health minister Mr Smitherman (right) and former Ontario MPP Gerard Kennedy got free tickets to the film from the nurses' association and then sat down to discuss Michael Moore's controversial project.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal health minister Tony Clement - also on the invite list - were no-shows, RNAO executive director Doris Greenspun told the Toronto Sun.

The Toronto Sun :

Dion was careful to stay quiet during the wait-time segment and sat with perfect posture for Sicko's duration, but afterwards mentioned it when asked if he had any criticisms.
"We know that we have awful wait times in this country," Dion said. He said the system in Canada still needs work, even if it looks good against the U.S. model. [...]
Provincial Health Minister George Smitherman, watching in the row behind, laughed at some points before leaving halfway for other business.
Also in attendance was former Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy, who afterwards called the movie "effective propaganda" but, like Dion, said he enjoyed it.
The nurses hosted the screening and debate to remind politicians about the importance of protecting universal health care, but the Liberal Party's PR department put : "Mr. Dion's participation in the roundtable was aimed at soliciting the views of nurses on how best to address the challenges facing Canada's health care system."

calling the event an "unusual political stunt" and quoted Mr Dion saying the film's laudatory depiction of Canada's hospitals was "a bit rosy." "There are strong lobbies that would like to take us there," Mr Dion declared, "but they won't have the ear of the Liberal party."

The CP report dug deeper into Mr Dion's proclamation, however, asking whether Dr Brian Day's privatization-solves-wait-times-problems theory holds water:
Dion acknowledged that the private system must have a role in delivering some services - an opinion reinforced by a 2005 Supreme Court decision granting a Quebec doctor the right to provide private for some patients.

"We have to make sure people have speedy access to services while protecting universality (of coverage)," he said.
We hosted our own roundtable discussion of SiCKO in NRM .

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