National Day of Action to Stop Bill C-51 ~ March 14th, 2015

It's Time To STOP BILL C-51

There have been many complaints against legislation the Harper Government has pushed through since gaining it’s “majority*” in the House of Commons. Our antiquated inequitable electoral system allows any government that achieves a “majority” to do pretty much whatever it likes.

But Bill C-51 is a game changer.

Law Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach (at the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto respectively) have been raising the alarm in articles like“Bill C-51: the Good, the Bad . . . and the Truly Ugly” which outline many of the very disturbing elements of Bill C-51.  They’ve created a website where they have shared their findings about Bill C-51 in detail

Possibly the single most disturbing element for me is something Mr. Forcese says in one of his information videos:

…the whole thing is covert.

We just have never seen anything like this in Canada before. Personally I would expect judges to consider all this unconstitutional and they could never let CSIS breach the constitution. But you and I may never know because, as I’ve said, this legal question would likely be decided as part of secret proceedings.

— Craig Forcese, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

Fast Tracked

Although Bill C-51 makes sweeping changes to Canadian law (and life) the Harper Government is pushing this bill through at break neck speed.  Instead of thoroughly investigating every element carefully, only 9 witnesses will be allowed to speak at the hearings, which are scheduled to be wrapped up by March 31, 2015.

The thing is, a majority government can pass any law it wants to pass.  So why not give such a law a proper hearing, why not examine it to ensure there will be no unexpected consequences.  After all, shouldn’t every law within a democratic nation receive proper scrutiny?

On Saturday (that’s March 14, 2015) Canadians across the country will to join a scheduled National Day of Action to protest Bill C-51.

Many organisations and a whole lot of people from Privacy Commissioners to former Prime Ministers have spoken out against Bill C-51 because they believe its provisions should be of concern to all Canadians.  If Bill C-51 becomes law, it will clearly allow for the violation of our Charter Rights, destroy personal privacy and facilitate spying on innocent Canadians while it creates a new secret police force with little oversight or accountability.

Canadians need to tell our MPs how we feel about this.

You can write a letter and/or sign Leadnow’s Petition:

Tell them that attacks on civil liberties including the sweeping expansion of spy powers, criminalization of speech, and preventative arrest for those who have committed no crime are not acceptable.

Find out where a local Stop Bill C-51 rally may be taking place on Facebook or Twitter, or visit LeadNow’s webpage where they are trying to co-ordinate the whole thing. If there isn’t one scheduled in your neighbourhood, you can start your own, by setting up a Facebook Event and inviting your friends or by announcing it on Twitter.

In my own Waterloo Region we have three groups (so far) coming together to stand up for Canadian civil rights.

Waterloo Region National Day of Action Bill C-51 Events

11:00AM Waterloo Walk against Bill C-51

I love the idea of a protest march where the marchers pass out information.  The march will begin at the University of Waterloo, in the Davis Centre Quad

(the big ‘green’ space between Davis Centre, Mathematics/Computer and Chemisty buildings). Then we’ll walk down University Avenue, past Laurier, down King Street until Victoria Park and City Hall. There will already be a rally in progress at city hall, so if you want to stay at the rally you can meet up there and talk to some cool people. Otherwise, you can bus back or something.

NOON Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action Against Bill C-51STOP

has merged with Julian Ichim’s Info Picket against Bill C 51 to create a single event at Kitchener City Hall.

Folks are welcome to meet up at Kitchener City Hall on March 14th at 12pm, 200 King St W. Federal Green party candidate Richard Walsh will be giving a short speech.

I have been told this is not a partisan event; Richard Walsh won’t be the only Federal Candidate for the 2015 Election slated to speak. I would certainly like to hear from candidates from all major Parties in Waterloo Region and sitting MPs on this very important subject.a

The weather is supposed to be lousy, but if they pass Bill C-51 this may be the last time anyone can attend a protest rally without risking 5 years in jail.

Stop Bill C-51

*”Majority” government in Canada does not mean a majority (which would be 50+%) it is a “plurality” — the winner only needs to get more votes than any other, not a majority of votes. Which means that a government that wins a majority of the seats in Parliament with only 39% of the vote (like Mr. Harper has) actually gains 100% of the power, which is effectively a dictatorship, not democracy.


Waterloo Region Walk-In Clinics (Ontario)

Today a friend asked me if I knew of more walk-in clinics in Waterloo Region.

I have the dubious distinction of being an expert on this issue, having spent far too many years without a family doctor in this land of supposed universal health care. When you don’t have an MD, there are only two options: Walk-In Clinics, or Emergency Rooms.

It isn’t an issue if you’re healthy; and so, by and large, most people don’t really understand, because it doesn’t directly affect them. But it is a terrible thing when you’re ill; but it is far far worse when your child is sick.

This issue is destined to become much worse, very soon. Even if you have a family doctor, ask yourself when your MD will be retiring. Presently the largest demographic of MDs is the same as it is in every other part of society: most of Ontario’s doctors are baby boomers.

waiting list blues

When I moved here the waiting list I wanted to sign with was a year.  They had 2.5 doctors, with the “half” doctor practising half the time here, and half in another municipality.  But he was getting tired of commuting, and so gave both clinics the option of employing him full time.  Our clinic lost.  And after 10 years on the waiting list, they called to ask if I wanted to remain on it.

When I first moved to Waterloo Region more than a decade ago, it wasn’t that big a deal. We could go to the walk-in clinic near Fairview Mall.  They had a really cool set up of plexiglass display cases where model trains would chug along the tracks between the waiting room and though the examination rooms.  Back then, they were open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.  These days the hours have been cut back.  If you arrive after 1:00pm on a weekend, chances are they will have closed the day’s intake.  Not because they want to, but because they don’t have enough doctors.   Oh, and sad to say, I haven’t seen the trains run in years, either.

In Canada,  Health Care is a provincial responsibility, but the money comes from the federal government.  Federal funding was cut dramatically several governments ago, and although the funding has since increased,  I suspect levels are still well below where they were.

Flying against a blue sky with a few wisps of coud.

doctor shortage: bad to worse

Doctors all over are retiring much faster than they can be replaced.  It used to be hospitals had waiting lists for family doctors. Not any more.   You can search the Ontario College of Physicians Website, but if you find an MD anywhere close, chances are they have stopped accepting patients by the time you call.

Over the years I’ve watched  our once great health system get starved into the shell we have today.  The example of Canada’s health care success has long been a thorn in the side of the private insurance lobby in the United States… and look what damage that caused.  Now the American Government has had to step in and implement their own public system.   The big insurance companies don’t like government meddling,  because they only get a fraction of the profit they do with private health care.  Canada’s health care system – covering every citizen – costs less per capita than the American system that only covered a small fraction of their population.

Canadians only got universal health care due to minority government horse trading.  My theory is that the ruling parties (and their corporate backers) don’t actually want universal health care, but they know citizens do,  so they don’t dare dismantle it.  Instead of attacking it head on, they have let it waste away.

Some years ago Ontario capped the amount of money any single doctor could make from OHIP in a year.  From a budgetary standpoint, that limits the amount of money the province has to pay to doctors.   Doctors near the US border have been known to go south after they hit their Ontario cap.  In under serviced areas, some doctors have even been known to tend patients without OHIP remuneration.   Other doctors have taken to charging patients for things not covered by OHIP.   And many stay on past the time when they would have retired because there is no one to take over their patient load.

We have a serious doctor shortage right now, but only a trickle of new doctors coming in.  I think this is because the government prefers it this way.  If there were enough doctors, the total amount of money the Provincial Government would be paying out would increase dramatically.

In the meantime, if you don’t have a family doctor, chances are good you don’t see a doctor until you’re good and sick, and probably have been for a long time. Sitting for hours in ER or a clinic is a last resort. Of course, this means there’s less chance of catching things early. And prevention? Forget it. Which means that many of us are less productive, and when we do go in, the procedures often cost much more.

Since so many of us are without an MD, we have no choice but to go to a walk-in clinic. Finding a walk-in clinic in the very under serviced Waterloo Region can be a challenge. And when you need one, you need one NOW.

Yet the yellow pages aren’t a big help, nor is the government website Walk-In Clinics – The Ministry of Health Can Help You: Find The Closest Walk In Clinic that popped up at the top of the Google Search.

The most comprehensive list of walk-in clinics is from the Region of Waterloo Public Health department:

Walk-in Clinics

Cambridge Walk-in Clinic
980 Franklin Blvd.

The Doctor’s Office
170 University Ave West

Weber Street Medical Centre
5A-1400 Weber Street East

Laurentian Walk-in Clinic
750 Ottawa Street South

Canadian Medical Clinic
100 The Boardwalk

Urgent Care Clinic
385 Fairway Road S.

Urgent Care Clinic
751 Victoria Street S.

This is the list today, 13 March, 2012.  For the most current version check the Public Health Department’s page.

[note: edited for clarity.]