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Lester Bowles Pearson.   Today is his 116th birthday.   With no control over Parliament and in just over four years, Pearson introduced universal health care, universal pensions, the national student loan program, bilingualism and the first free trade agreement - the Auto Pact - between Canada and the United States.   He gave us our flag, too and was tenacious in fighting separatism - with persuasion, and sometimes, with muscle.

He fostered closer links with the U.S. and was famously friendly with JFK, even though their tenures tragically overlapped for only seven months.

How did Pearson do it?  By spending five years in the electoral wilderness, building a policy program and a political team that deserved support.  And building coalitions in the House, to get things done.   That's how.

Oh and, he also won the Nobel Peace Prize.  But that was before he got elected.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Let's be fair to the Canadian people (20+ / 0-)

    who kept voting for Mr Pearson and his coalition.  And to Tommy Douglas, the architect of the single-payer system, who keeps getting voted Best Canadian Ever, long after his death.

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 08:38:36 AM PDT

  •  Are they really so liberal? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's a convenient meme, but there is much evidence to the contrary.

    Such as:

    Celine Dion
    Tar sands
    Baby seal meat
    Stephen Harper'
    Their culture, namely this:Derek Boogaard: A Boy Learns to Brawl

    do you want me to go on, don't test me, I will!!

    •  what is a celine dion? (0+ / 0-)

      The other stuff I recognize.

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:04:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Canada IS liberal. LOOK at Election results: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, Gooserock, ichibon, SilentBrook

      Conservative party:  39,62%
      New Democratic Party:  30,63%
      Liberal party: 18,91%
      Bloc Québécois : 6,04%%
      Green:  3,91%

      So you have conservatives at 40% and non-conservatives at 60%.

      Steven Harper and his conservative party were able to obtain a parliamentary majority only because all conservative forces were regrouped within one major party, while the non-conservatives ( centrists and leftists) were divided between four parties.

      Note: The Liberal party is more of a centrist party ( well it would be considered pretty left in the USA but that's another story). The Liberal party in 2011 was still suffering the aftermath of a big scandal from a few years before, and the leader was not an effective politician. Some people made a temporary move towards the conservative party and some others voted for the more leftist party, the NDP.

      I doubt the situation will be the same in the next elections. The Liberal party is recovering and is polling well right now.

      Oh, and Canada's mainstream media is much more functional than in the USA. And since the truth as a liberal bias...

      •  I'm mostly familiar with the Liberal Party (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in British Columbia, where for all intents and purposes they are anything but "Liberal"

        And, interestingly enough, BC residents have to pay the full cost of pharmaceuticals, despite the oft repeated truism that Canada has "single payer" health care.

        Just saying, many things aren't as they appear on the surface.

        •  completely disagree (5+ / 0-)

          I'm an American who has lived in Toronto the past few years, and thus I am particularly well positioned to make this judgment. Sure, Canada isn't paradise, but wow, the systems couldn't be more different.

          Case in point: my wife and I are expecting. We are seeing a midwife every month now, and will see her every week prior to the birth. When my wife goes into early labour, the midwife will come to my house, pick us up, hang out with us until the time is close, then she will drive us to the hospital, where she will join a team of an ob-gyn, two nurses, and various specialists if neeeded (anaesthesiologist) in assisting the delivery. For six weeks after the birth, the midwife will visit us every week offering help with nursing, post-partum mood issues, etc.

          Guess how much this all costs us? Zip. Zilch. Nada. Of course, all working people in Canada work together to fund this system as tax-payers. But I would far rather my taxes work for this than for waging unnecessary wars.

          •  maybe that's why people out west have so (0+ / 0-)

            much venom towards "central" Canada.

            You get all the benefits from the resources out there, while at the same time can sit back and dis em big time.

            That aside, back to BC, I have a extended relative in rural BC who had breast cancer.

            Upon inquiring about her health, I asked a few simple questions she was unable to answer.  A few weeks later she contacted me and told me she asked her physician the same questions, which he wasn't able to answer. To his credit (I suppose) he apparently looked into things and changed her treatment regimen and she ended up doing much better.

            In another case, another extended family member asked me about a medication that would cost about $100 /month (a considerable financial burden) and asked me if I thought she should go ahead and fill the prescription.  I emphasized that I have no medical training, but was able to evaluate the primary scientific literature and told her that it looked to be all on the up and up.  So she went ahead and got the medication - which costs $1,200 a year.  It's not really clear if it is helpful or not - even at that expense.

            Bottom line - medical care in Canada is not "free"

          •  OK, I should have gone straight to Wikipedia (0+ / 0-)
            In 2009, the government funded about 70% of Canadians' health care costs. This is slightly below the OECD average of public health spending.[22] This covered most hospital and physician cost while the dental and pharmaceutical costs were primarily paid for by individuals.[22]
            Yeah, better than we have in the USA, but it's definitely not "single payer" either!!
            •  Coverage varies from province to province, too (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              "labor is superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration,"... Theodore Roosevelt

              by HugoDog on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 10:23:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  not perfect (0+ / 0-)

              but pretty good. What percentage does the US cover?

              It's all about what you compare it to, I suppose. As an American who spent a life time making huge co-pays for everything medical, I have really enjoyed the "not-quite-single-payer-but-much-much-better-than-the-US" healthcare. Perhaps if I were Swedish I would be less thrilled.

              About the standard of care -- I assume this is a function of expertise. This certainly is not unique to Canada. I had good care when I visited the top docs in Palo Alto and Los Angeles. I had shitty health care when I lived in rural Georgia.

              PS. As an outsider, I have never understood the venom thing. Toronto is huge, clean, safe, good public transit, etc. Sure, we have an embarassing mayor, but man, I love it here.

              •  Really, you ought to get out to rural (0+ / 0-)

                western Canada to get some perspective.

                I have extended family members in each of northern BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan and to a person they all loathe Toronto (to the extend that the old timers are big time Canadiens fans - e.g., before there were any NHL teams out there).

                The perception is that you get the "huge, clean, safe, good public transit" at their expense.  Plus, as you were just crowing about, completely free health care, which they don't get.

                •  Not sure what I "ought" to do (0+ / 0-)

                  but I would encourage any of your sad family members to try living in the rural US and then see how sad they are...

                  •  Yes, go ahead and dis the rural poor! (0+ / 0-)

                    I will point them to this interchange and see if their view of Torontonians changes any.

                    I suspect that it be reinforced, if anything.

                    •  yup, I'm "dissing" them alright... (0+ / 0-)

                      oh wait, it's not 1995.

                      Alas, no one can accuse me of being a 'Torontonian.' I grew up in south Georgia.

                      Not sure why you are so sad. I hope your day turns around. I'm having a great day!

                      •  I'm not sad, I'm just gaining new insights (0+ / 0-)

                        into my relatives mindset.

                        I used to defend Toronto and it's residents.   I'd tell my relatives - heck, I've been there - it's a nice city and the people seemed to be totally cromulent and friendly.

                        But now I can see where they're coming from just a little bit more.

                        •  I also am gaining some new insights. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          I meet lots of people on the internet who believe that "not perfect" = "bad." I'm glad that I (usually) don't have to deal with such people in real life.

                          •  Yes, I'm sure you are (0+ / 0-)

                            you seem to be somebody who totally enjoys being completely ensconced in a bubble of privilege and not having to deal with your less fortunate country-mates.

                            And yes, about the internet vs. real life thing - in Toronto the people I met seemed really nice in real life - but deep down inside I now realize that was probably all just a facade that could not withstand the semi-anonymous, passive-aggressive nature of the internet. . .. .

                          •  yep, you got me (0+ / 0-)

                            and Torontonians, and "people esconced in bubbles" and your "less fortunate country-mates," etc. all figured out, don't you? Congrats!

                            When I have exchanged a few lines of text with an anonymous poster I never met, I assume that I know nothing about them. But I think I am pretty normal that way.

                          •  Perhaps an important nuance is that (0+ / 0-)

                            you actually are American (from Georgia, to boot) and not Canadian.

                            Because your posts really do go against even the most hackneyed, stereotypical Torontonian POV (e.g., that Canadians are nice people and not total assholes)

                            Namely, you sit there in the wealthiest city in Canada having your health care paid for in full, calling me a liar when I point out from personal experience that other people in poorer parts of Canada actually suffer financial deprivation from being asked to pay for the 30% of national health care costs that have to come out of pocket from them (which is the figure from Wikipedia but that also jives with personal experience).    And since that is a national figure, and since YOU don't to pay ANYTHING in Toronto, that probably skews the figure even higher for those in remote regions.

                            OK, enjoy your privileged existence - I'm sure you've earned it!  If nothing else, you certainly seem to think you have!!

                          •  I love how you (0+ / 0-)

                            have it all figured out, roadie! Except that you don't. I pay 45% of my salary in taxes to support this healthcare. I am happy to do so.

                            If you are unhappy about the old 'haves' vs the 'have-nots' disparities between provinces, you can have that argument with someone else. As I understand it, Ontario was a net contributor for decades, and only recently became a net receiver. But as a non-Canadian, I'll let others figure that out.

                            What I know -- I pay lots in taxes (and am happy to) and I get good healthcare in return. Why does that make you so very sad?

        •  BC Liberals are the Conservatives nationally (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          there's various odd skewing of provincial politics in BC due to the former influence of the Social Credit Party, long since dead but the political structure around it still alive and in place.

          Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

          by ActivistGuy on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 10:23:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah yes, the Social Credit party (0+ / 0-)

            I looked them up in the early days of the internet and IIRC they were a very weird hybrid of far right and populist idealogies.

            I'm assuming that if your point is that the BC Liberals have inherited the Social Credit legacy, they've pretty much ditched the populist aspects and stuck with the far right policies?

            In any event, perusing the internet looks likes they're likely to get their asses kicked in BC's upcoming provincial election . ..

  •  Pearson cannot compare to our current (0+ / 0-)

    soaring political crass.

    Sarah Palin
    Michelle Bachmann
    Mike Hucksterbee
    Mitt Romney
    Mitch McConnell
    Eric Cantor

    Poor Lester cannot compare his meager, short-sighted and temporary accomplishments, not when you compare his minor works with the soaring rhetoric of Sarah, the brilliant incisive analysis and almost genius strategy of Michelle, or the incredibly  humble "Deeds, not Words!" program silently starring Huck, or the truly Shakespearean, down to earth, riveting communications skills of Mitt, or the shining light of integrity, honesty, and ethics that glows like an angelic aura from Mitch, or, yes, the truly deep, convincing, and awe-inspiring thoughts of Eric - the master of public policy and the most effective future works for the poor and unprivileged.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:03:56 AM PDT

  •  Poor Lester Pearson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    When you're followed by Trudeau, you end up looking hopelessly square.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 10:18:50 AM PDT

  •  Don't forget . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    abolition of most Capital Crimes in Canada in 1967.

    Also immigration reform, he instituted the Points based system which made the system fair for everyone.

    He was added by a number of capable Cabinet Members. Including the Minister of Justice Pierre Trudeau.  Parliamentary Secretary Jean Chretien, and John Turner.

    All of whom would become Prime Minister, though one would serve a brief term than the others.

    and my personal favourite:

    Later became chancellor of Carleton University until his death. Later the Graduate Student Bar there(Mike's Place) was named for him.

  •  roadkill (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

     okay, listen up everybody... roadbed has the goods on us pseudo-Liberal Canucks, having personally debunked our progressive bonafides through his extensive network of Toronto-hating, pharmaceutical-deprived rural extendeds... we're busted... we give up...  

    •  And where do you live, exactly? (0+ / 0-)

      The good news is that anybody can go and fix Wikipedia - if they are incorrect about 30% of Canadian health care costs having to be paid out-of-pocket (as compared to the oft-repeated "single payer" meme) why don't you go fix that?

      Or are you also ensconced in the privileged Toronto area bubble where apparently 100% is covered?

      Seriously, you don't give a fuck, either, about the rural poor in your country?

    •  Also, what have I said that is factually (0+ / 0-)


      Wouldn't that add just a bit of credibility to your mocking?

  •   roadkill (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

       I confess to living in the Centre of the Universe as of now, having moved here from beautiful, rural  B.C. (where the right-wing Liberals are about to be replaced by the more progressive NDP) , and have lived in every region of our beautiful Dominion, y inclus le Quebec, the Prairies (born and bed country boy), the jaw-dropping North, and the bucolic splendour of the Maritimes....

         not sure that gentle ribbing amounts to mocking....

    •  Have you fixed Wikipedia yet? (0+ / 0-)

      Just saying - I just hit the "update" function on two different browsers and the apparently incorrect information that only 70% of Canadians' health costs are paid by the government is still there.

      And, out of curiousity, when you lived in BC, were * your * prescription drug costs covered?

      If so - don't be shy about chiming in and debunking that  - Ive already forwarded this thread to my relatives who claim otherwise - please don't be shy about calling them out as liars!

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