(Jim Clark) – I just finished a visit to our neighbor on the northern border, Canada, and spent some time delving into how a country that had, in the past, plunged headlong into a European style socialist democracy, was dealing with the resulting damages now that the Conservatives have been in power since February 2006. This should be useful information in the event that the GOP recaptures the White House and Senate this November and tries to figure out how to undo the damage caused by the Obama administration.
The Canadian Parliament follows the British model consisting of a House of Commons and a Senate (the Brits call it the House of Lords). The Canadian Senate functions pretty much like the British House of Lords, which is to say hardly at all. The power is centered in the House of Commons, which elects the prime minister. Currently, of the 306 MPs in the House of Commons, 164 are Tory, 102 New Democrats, 35 Liberal, 4 Quebecois and 1 Green. The Tory plurality elected Stephen Harper Prime Minister, and he in turn appointed all the ministers who constitute the Canadian cabinet (equivalent to the Executive in the United States).
Since the Tories wield all the power, at least until the next election in 2015, what do they stand for? The following, according to the party website, is the Conservative platform: balanced budgets; no new taxes; elimination of a registry for rifles, an end to the budget deficit by 2014-15, creation of jobs; support for small business; economic growth; and continued support for a universal access health system.
This all sounds pretty Republican until you get to the last one, illustrating Ronald Reagan’s point that the hardest thing to kill is a government entitlement program. Just as in Britain when Churchill regained power, and later, when Maggie Thatcher became prime minister, there was no public will to end socialized medicine.
From what I could find out, the Canadian healthcare system works, sort of, if the patient is not impatient for medical care. The current wait for a hip replacement is 6 months. There is no competition for excellence amongst physicians and health providers because there is no reward for being excellent. Providers get paid the same either way. Affluent Canadians still go to the US for other than routine medical procedures.
What Canada has going for itself is a positive economy. About 760,000 jobs have been created since July 2009 in a country with a population of 35 million. A one-bedroom condominium in Vancouver sells for $500,000, as does a 3 bedroom house in Ottawa, whereas right across the border in Minnesota, the same house sells for $200,000 (the real estate market is buoyed by demand from Hong Kong, which was part of the British Commonwealth). The Canadian oil sands projects can’t find enough qualified workers as US energy demands provide a ready market. For most of my lifetime, you could buy a Canadian dollar for eighty cents, but now it’s even-steven with the American buck, so I guess they’re doing something right.
So back home here, the question remains if we elect Mitt Romney, keep a GOP majority in the House and take back the Senate, will our leadership have the votes and the stomach to repeal Obamacare?
If our Commonwealth allies are any example, the prospects are dim.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates and has served on the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)