Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Canada makes the debate

A couple of mentions of Canada last night in the US Presidential debate.

First off, FINALLY someone (and unfortunately it was McCain) recognized that America gets a great deal of its oil from Canada. All this rhetoric about eliminating the dependence on oil from foreign countries that don’t like America conveniently forgets that Canada is the top foreign supplier of oil to the US. Believe me, despite being an Albertan, I’m all for dramatically reducing North America’s reliance on oil. Let’s just be clear, though, that the US’s number one trading partner has the second-largest oil reserves in the world and it’s a friendly place.

The other time Canada came up in a way that really jumped out at me was in McCain’s denigration of the Canadian healthcare system. Here’s what he said:

Sen. Obama wants to set up health care bureaucracies, take over the health care of America through — as he said, his object is a single payer system. If you like that, you’ll love Canada and England. So the point is…”

Ummm… so the point is that you don’t want to be like a country where everyone has access to healthcare, where employers are not burdened with huge health insurance costs that drive up the cost of production and make them less competitive, where no one will go bankrupt due to medical bills, where drug prices are lower, where people live longer on average than Americans, where the rate of patient satisfaction is HIGHER than the United States, where people still can chose their own doctor and wait times for non-elective surgery are comparable to what they are in the US, where there are no co-pays, and where people can change careers or start their own businesses without ever having to worry about losing their health coverage to do so?

I’m glad McCain clearly knows something about Canada, but he’s got a lot to learn about Canada and the rest of the world if he thinks that a single-payer system is inferior to either his proposal or Obama’s. Canada’s healthcare system needs to be improved, and any Canadian will tell you that. The main problem in Canada, however, that our government only invests about half of what the US government already pays per capita for health care.

Sara Robinson’s two-part article on Mythbusting Canadian Healthcare (Part 2 is here) is worth reading for anyone who wants a second opinion on this. For those of us who’ve seen and lived both sides of the coin, we cannot understand how things could continue to be this bad for so many people in the United States. From my perspective, neither of these candidates has gone far enough in their proposals to make a huge difference in the lives of average Americans. This is something that could be solved for all Americans with the right leadership and vision.


1 russell { 10.16.08 at 3:41 pm }

What I think is more interesting is where Canada SHOULD HAVE made the debate but didn’t. I wish Obama had had the facts in front of him when McCain described Colombia as the US’s “largest agricultural importer of our products.” Nope, it’s our friends to the North. caught this one. See the second-to-last bullet point here:

2 Paul Martin { 10.16.08 at 3:57 pm }

You’re right! When I heard him say that, I thought “hey, I thought that was us!” Thanks for catching that. You would think that these are basic facts about the US economy that these leaders should know.

3 Marlon { 10.17.08 at 8:19 pm }

Speaking of oil, if people believe that drilling will lead to energy independence, they’re fooling themselves. The oil companies are multinational organizations with one goal in mind – to control the world’s oil supply. When you hear “drill, baby, drill” be aware that once this US oil is found, you can bet the house that if China or India needs it, the oil companies will sell it to them!

4 Vector { 10.23.08 at 5:37 am }

Great comments there PW, though I think the ” dependence on foreign oil” , is a cloaked message for the middle east , and is a vague reference to the involuntary but forcible transfer of huge funds to enemy? powers ,so though we need their oil , we do not want to provide them with the funds that terrorise us! Or am I wrong?
I am sure that the moves to reduce dependence on foreign supplies would only go as far as excluding the unfriendlies , and the US would be more than happy to trade with the Canada , Iceland , and Uk suppliers.
As for healthcare, I live in the UK , so everyones health service seems better than ours! or is that a case of “the grass is greener…”
Keep posting , always a good read.

5 Shannon { 11.04.08 at 4:30 pm }

First-time commenter and a fellow Canadian living in the states. Really appreciated your comments here. What surprised me is the derogatory tone McCain took when talking about Canada’s healthcare system. Maclean’s magazine published an article in their July 7th, 2008 magazine called “Canadians vs. Americans” in which they indicate that public and private healthcare spending per person each year is more than double for Americans than for Canadians ($3, 326 USD in Canada and $6401 USD in the USA) while Canadians live an average of 2.5 years longer than Americans! Those are statistics you can take to the debates! If Obama’s healthcare plan actually DOES resemble Canada’s, he has nothing to be ashamed of!