Tag Archives: Ted Flemming

Politicians say the darndest things

If only fatheads could float far away

If only fatheads could float far away

They don’t really mean the nonsense that, so often, trips off their tongues. They just libel can’t help themselves. Theirs is less an affliction than an occupational hazard. It comes with the territory upon which the politician must trod, oh so publicly, every day.

We shan’t soon forget this beauty, courtesy of former U.S. President George W. Bush, circa 2004:

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Nor can we let current U.S. President Barack Obama off the hook for this campaign trail blooper some years ago: “I’ve now been in 57 states – I think I have one left to go.”

There’s the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan on the environment: “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”

There’s U.S. Congressman Joe Barton on wind energy:

“Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up?

There’s former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on being gay: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country.”

There’s former U.S. Representative Todd Akin on pregnancy resulting from sexual assault: “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

There’s Canada’s former Minister of Public Safety on an opposition MP who criticized new government legislation designed to fight online pedophilia: “We are proposing measures to bring our laws into the 21st century and to provide the police with the lawful tools that they need. . .He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”

Now we witness Toronto Mayor (in name only) Rob Ford throw his hat into the arena with what is clearly a litigious attack on Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, who has returned fire with a libel notice.

Mr. Ford’s remark in an interview with Conrad Black on The Zoomer TV show earlier this month was, verbatim: “Daniel Dale in my backyard taking pictures. I have little kids. When a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say the word, but you start thinking, you know, what’s this guy all about?”

To which Mr. Dale’s lawyers responded, “This is a vicious libel of Mr. Dale. In its plain and ordinary meaning, Rob Ford is calling Mr. Dale a pedophile. . .This letter shall constitute notice under section 5(1) of Ontario’s Libel and Slander Act. . .ZoomerMedia and Rob Ford should immediately retract the false and defamatory statements in their entirety, and apologize to Mr. Dale – publicly, abjectly, unreservedly and completely – if they wish to even begin to undo the harm caused by the broadcast of Mr. Ford’s outrageous statements.”

Yeah, good luck with that.

Methinks Mr. Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine and being outrageously drunk in public and, yet, remains technically in office, believes his skin in made of teflon. And maybe it is.

Maybe that is the secret of public office: Regularly say the the most ludicrous things you can imagine and, pretty soon, people become inured to your absurdity.

Conversely, when a smart, articulate guy says something just a wee bit silly, the remark stands out.

Here’s New Brunswick Liberal MLA Don Arseneault critiquing the new Tory drug plan for the province last week: “If a single mother or anybody in New Brunswick misses a payment – maybe because of being out of the country or being in the hospital or just not being able to make ends meet – the government is going to multiply that fine by the number of days and the person can be fined up to $5,200. . .Do you think that is right?”

To which Health Minister Ted Flemming replied, “Any person who is in need is not going to be paying under this plan. . .To suggest that New Brusnwickers are a bunch of people who are not going to p[ay their bills is an insult. . .and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

Careful, fellows. . .You are heading dangerously close to Rob Ford territory, where nonsense is a way of life.

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New Brunswick gets it right on drug plan

Maybe it, like health, will recover

Maybe it, like health, will recover

Three years ago, David Alward made catastrophic drug coverage one of the linchpins of his election campaign. The other was capping the Harmonized Sales Tax at 13 per cent. Thus began, perhaps, the premier’s complicated relationship with what economists term “inputs and outputs.”

Specifically, one actually needs to raise revenue before one increases spending or one tends to go broke pretty darn quickly.

Most householders in New Brunswick get this simple arithmetic. A $500-million annual deficit and a $11-billion long-term debt against the province’s accounts suggest that our elected lawmakers are not as perspicacious as the people they represent.

Still, every so often, a case can be made for a spending program in the absence of a new and ready source of revenue to cover its costs – especially when the administration of such a program will likely prevent the state’s extensive financial hemorrhaging in the future.

Indeed, such a case can be made for the Tory government’s comprehensive drug plan, announced last week, and its specific codicils for catastrophic prescription coverage. Apart from opposition Liberals in the legislature, most interested groups in the province seem sanguine about what they observe in the fine print, which splits the cost of the $50-million (per annum) plan almost evenly between consumers and the Province.

“We’re pleased to see this happening – it’s a moment in history for New Brunswick health care,” Anne McTiernan, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society in New Brunswick, told the Telegraph-Journal last week. “It will make a huge difference on a go-forward basis for New Brunswickers. It will address both the financial barriers for people accessing important drugs.”

Added Barbara MacKinnon, president and CEO of the New Brunswick Lung Association, for the same piece: “This is an excellent plan. Although it is going to cost, it is really going to keep people out of the hospital. . .If you can get the right diagnosis, the right prescription drug plan, then you are not going to have a stroke.”

In fact, this plan is not likely to financially hobble anyone – not the province which is, arguably, already on skid row, or individuals whose premiums have been scaled to their incomes.

According to the Department of Health, “For individuals earning a gross income of $26,360 or less and families earning a gross income of $49,389 or less, the premium will be approximately $67 per month per adult ($800 per year). For individuals earning a gross income between $26,361 and $50,000 and families earning a gross income of between $49,390 and $75,000, the premium will be approximately $117 per month per adult ($1,400 per year). For individuals earning a gross income between $50,001 and $75,000 and families earning a gross income of between $75,001 and $100,000, the premium will be $133 per month per adult ($1,600 per year). For individuals earning a gross income of more than $75,001 and families earning a gross income of more than $100,001, the premium will be $167 per month per adult ($2,000 per year).”

Meanwhile, “Children 18 and younger will not pay premiums but a parent will have to be enrolled in the plan.  All plan members will be required to pay a 30-per-cent co-pay at the pharmacy up to $30 per prescription.”

There’s even a bone or two tossed to the approximately 80 per cent of New Brusnwickers who hold private drug coverage, to wit: “From May 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015, some New Brunswickers who have private drug plans but still incur high drug costs or need access to a drug covered under the new plan but not through their private plan may join the New Brunswick Drug Plan.”

After that, the province mandates that all private group drug plans “must be at least as comprehensive as the New Brunswick Drug Plan.” That means they must provide comparable coverage in terms of prescriptions and costs.

It has taken three years to craft a program that make sense. But, as Health Minister Ted Flemming points out, if it’s the right plan, it’s worth the wait.

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