Cornwall ON – According to media reports, Max Bernier will be speaking out today on the need to reform how health care is delivered and paid for in Canada. He will have an interesting message, namely get the Feds out of health care and do away with the cost of social transfers altogether and transfer this $40 billion cost to the provinces. Ideally Ottawa would free up some tax points for the provinces at the same time.
It’s not a new idea, this devolution of one government’s costs to another has happened before, both federal to provincial and from provincial governments to municipal governments. Unfortunately there is only one taxpayer.
Does he propose that this be a unilateral move by the federal government? If yes, then that would make for an interesting federal-provincial relationship over the next few years. Max would also leave it up to each province to decide what to spend on health care and they could then decide what items to fund and provinces would be free to implement two tier health care delivery if they so wished. The downside being that you end up with 10 completely different health care systems. Some folks might support that especially if they live in the richer provinces, but what if you happen to live in one of the poorer provinces? Certainly he offers a simplistic solution at the federal level in that you get to move this debate away from Ottawa and out to 10 different provincial capitals.
The big question though is how or why Bernier is being allowed to do this? Can you see any other Conservative MP being allowed to speak his mind on such a controversial subject, especially if his opinions don’t match the official PMO lines? I think most would agree that PMO does not normally allow loose cannons out there on the public speaking circuit.
Is Bernier being used then to send up trial balloons? That is always a possibility and of course he offers hope to the right wing of the party that their views are being heard and articulated in public. In that sense he serves a purpose for PMO who of course will always say he is representing his own views and not speaking on behalf of the government. Then again, wasn’t Garry Breitkreuz doing that as well when he got into so much trouble for his views on the long gun registry?
Max and his views may not represent the official party line, but he does offer the opposition an opportunity both now and in a future election to focus their attack on a Conservative “hidden agenda”. We spent years shutting down that line of attack, why open ourselves up to it again?