rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The kraken awakes, again: The secret Conservative health privatization agenda resurfaces

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Image of Government Slideshow

Just when it looked like we might finally have a slow day on the Alberta health care front, the PowerPoint Fairy intervened yesterday to keep the adrenalin pumping with a slideshow that seems to set out the Conservative secret agenda to privatize health care.

The Dot-PPT Fairy -- in the guise of a "concerned citizen" -- leaked the "internal" presentation to the Alberta Liberals.

Readers will recall that when we all went home Friday afternoon at the end of a raucous week in Alberta that saw the Conservative Parliamentary Assistant for health care and the CEO of the province's health "super board" both fired, Alberta Health Services Board members quitting right and left, and all manner of salacious accusations flying, everyone expected Monday to see more of the same.

After all, three Board members had quit to protest the firing by the government of the man whose fate they were supposed to control, Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett, who greased his own skids with his now-infamous Cookie Walk last Thursday. And, indeed, another one quit Monday to protest the same thing.

Professional legislative pundits were quick to the microphone with the explanation that the remaining 10 AHS Board members were only sticking around out of a sense of responsibility lest the health care system fall apart without them -- which is, as they say, a likely story.

Even better, New Democrat Brian Mason had vowed to rise on a point of personal privilege and accuse Edmonton-Rutherford Conservative MLA Fred Horne, the new Parliamentary Assistant for health care, of trying to intimidate Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Dr. Raj Sherman, the loquacious former Parliamentary Assistant for health care who last week found himself consigned to the lonely life of an Independent on the Opposition benches for his sins.

For reasons unspoken (but reliably reported to have been a personal plea to the NDP leader from Sherman), Mason announced yesterday morning he was dropping his plan to go after the usually mild-mannered Horne.

What discussions Sherman had over the weekend, and with whom, remain a mystery. Perhaps someone’s "better angels" prevailed, an outcome at least one commentator pleaded for Monday morning. More likely, one suspects, it was something more devilish. Regardless, only time will tell, and perhaps not even that.

But with Mason's plans withdrawn, the dull day that might have resulted did not when the aforementioned concerned citizen leaked the 27-page slide show to the Alberta Liberals.

The presentation provides evidence that suggests, just as Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann says, the Conservatives have a hidden agenda to privatize health care after the next election.

The internal Alberta Health and Wellness department presentation sets out how the government would de-list medical some procedures now covered by health insurance, make private insurance coverage legal and let physicians double dip in the public and private system at the same time.

Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky denied all, but the talkative Sherman, in the words of the Edmonton Journal, "confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document." And Sherman was, after all, until a week ago Zwozdesky's assistant.

The slideshow -- called "Alberta's Health Legislation: Moving Forward" -- describes the first phase of the government's sneak privatization plan as "Building Public Confidence," though it might more accurately be entitled "Fooling the Public," and outlines changes included in the so-called Alberta Health Act that is now before the Legislature.

The second part of the show, called "Legislation," but which more aptly might be called "Screwing the Public," explains how the plan will really work when it’s too late do anything about it.

"If the Premier follows the agenda outlined in this document, it's the end of public health care in Alberta and possibly Canada itself," Swann said in a news release. "This is one of the most serious issues Albertans have ever faced -- a back-door, middle of the night attempt by a deceitful government to move to two-tiered, American-style health care."

Alert readers will recall how the PowerPoint Fairy also put in an appearance in December 2009, when she revealed that Alberta Health services was "quickly going broke."

That presentation -- cooked up by three of the now departed Duckett's senior executives -- was called "The Great Alberta Experiment," which, as was observed in this space at that time, got one thing right. "The creation of AHS was an experiment -- an ill-though-out political experiment that has gone seriously awry with consequences it will take a long time and lot of money to fix."

More true now than ever, I'd say.

Given yesterday's development, it's hard to see why conservative Albertans fed up with Mr. Stelmach’s far-right government but unable to bring themselves to vote Liberal or NDP wouldn’t support the Wildrose Alliance.

After all, except for their ritual repetition of the phrase "publicly funded," at least the Alliance says pretty much right out that they're going to screw us on health care and presents us with a reasonably honest explanation of how they propose to do it.

As for the rest of us, the arguments are more compelling than ever not to vote for Stelmach's party, which not only can't run health care properly, but can’t even seem to manage a competent wrecking job!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.