What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Canada, Honest Broker

I’ve made it a point in the past to blog on medicine since I’ve spent forty years submerged in medical practice and medical politics. I recognize that international politics is a very complicated field and that I rely almost totally on various news media for my information (a very precarious position at best). The fact remains that all of us have a point of endurance that we cannot tolerate; and if we do, our reactions may well not be termed a “measured response”. Well, I have reached that point, and indeed, this may not be a measured response. You could probably call it a rant.
Could someone please tell me what an “honest broker” is? One definition I found was: “a mediator in international, industrial, etc. disputes. This definition does not seem to include the vital parts of the definition of “honest”------“held in respect, credible, truthful, will not lie or cheat, be free of deceit, genuine, etc”. “Broker” in the older dictionaries is defined as one who “is paid a fee or commission for acting as an agent in making contracts or sales”. I suppose then that Mr. Maurice Strong could be called a broker in the “food for oil” disaster (Iraq/UN) but I’m not sure Canada wants to be identified with that adventure. Some more modern dictionaries define “broker” as a “mediator”, during negotiations. Fair enough, let’s go with the definition, as meant by the opposition parties (and the MSNM) pertaining to Canada’s position internationally to mean: “A credible, respected, truthful, mediator in international affairs. They claim that has been our traditional role.
Well, I’m not sure how far back is termed “traditional” but it seems to me Canada entered World War 2 before the U.S., and seemed to take quite a definite stand on the issues at the time. I also find it hard to associate the Liberal party (after the ADSCAM thing) with “credible, respected, truthful, etc.; or for that matter, Mr. Layton and his wife who lived in subsidized housing while they were both “alderpersons” for the city of Toronto, or Mr. Layton when he proclaimed that he was not aware that the Nationally known Scholdice hernia clinic was not a private facility. But you say, those are human frailties and nobody is perfect. I agree. Unfortunately, on the world stage many things are factored into our credibility such as our leaders, our international friends, who we do business with and even our neighbors. And if we are really honest, we would have to admit that much of how we “feel” about someone or something has to do with our perceptions of them. Our leaders and their behaviors will give the perception of credibility, or lack thereof, both nationally and internationally.
So let us take a look realistically at Canada being an “honest broker” in the Middle East------specifically between Hezbollah/Iran and Israel, keeping in mind that we must be perceived and acknowledged as being a credible, truthful, and respected mediator.
How would you feel if the mediator appointed in a dispute that you had with someone in Florida, lived next door to that person? You also found out that they holidayed together, worked for the same company, and were both Baptist. Let’s be honest, Canada could bomb the U.S. and the Hezbollah and Iran would still perceive us as being pawns of the U.S.A. and the bombing a political manipulation. Good grief, a percentage of Canadians feel that way, and some of the news media may support that position.
Mediators in disputes should have no strong convictions over the issues involved to be truly impartial. Is that possible for Canada? Canada has declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization and we recognize Israel as a Nation. Do Canadians really back a terrorist’s organization that invades, murders, and kidnaps citizens of another nation, or for that matter, on a frequent basis, lobs rockets into public places intentionally? Can we, as Canadians, truthfully say that we can be and are impartial about Hezbollah and Iran wanting to “wipe Israel of the map”? If that be true, I am ashamed to be called a Canadian.
I believe that if Canada is to be seen and acknowledged as a credible, truthful, and respected mediator we must make known our values to the international community, and we must be prepared to embrace them, take responsibility for them, and when necessary, make sacrifices for them. We do not believe in genocide, we do not believe that terrorist groups should provoke wars and target innocent lives to further their cause, we believe that a nation and its people have a right to live in peace, but we believe that when a nation and its people are threatened with extermination, that nation has the right, yes, the responsibility, to take the actions necessary to preserve the lives of its citizens and its identity as a nation.
Did previous federal governments of Canada delude themselves into thinking they would be credible and respected internationally for standing for NOTHING. Has this been the reason for progressive and substantial decreases in funding to our military? After all, if there is no cause worth fighting for, why spend billions of dollars for a military. It would seem that someone decided to use the term “honest broker” to justify our position of “standing up for nothing”. On an international level, the United Nations is to be the “honest broker” in International disputes; that was its founding purpose. Unfortunately, it has not fulfilled its mandate. Could it be that it has lacked the ingredients to generate credibility and respect? Could it be that their inaction speaks louder than their words?
Canadians have lost their pride. Prime Minister Harper may well be wrong-----Canadians in fact do run and hide in the face of standing up for our values, or is it that we already have no values worth fighting for. In fact, we don’t even seem to have values worth supporting (Quiet, Harper, you may offend someone!!). Personally, I would rather be respected for the things I believe in and which I am prepared to back, than my lack of conviction on all matters.


Anonymous Muttering In Manitoba said...

Excellent post! You have articulated what a lot of us have felt for some time, that Canada tolerates everything, and stands for nothing. Or, as Mark Steyn has said, the Liberals and multiculturalism have made Canada a "null" country.

Lloyd "soft power" Axworthy had an op-ed in the Winnipeg Free Press a week or so ago in which he decried the loss of Canada's traditional "honest broker" role, but he was promptly "smacked down" in a subsequent editorial. Here are the key paragraphs:

"...[an immediate ceasefire] would also, Mr. Axworthy thinks, give Canada the opportunity to play 'honest broker'. Like many Liberals, he clings to this idea, although it is largely a myth. In the honest broker role as Liberals understand it today, one does not take sides between right and wrong. Lester Pearson's brokerage of the 1956 Suez crisis is held up as the first example of this -- Mr. Axworthy cites it himself -- but Pearson did take sides. He condemned the British and French attempt to appropriate the Suez Canal, but because he was a man of principle who could be respected, he was able to honestly broker the negotiations."

"A succession of Liberal governments since then have claimed the honest broker label to avoid taking a stand. A nation that will not take a stand on principle, a moral stand on issues, as Mr. Harper has done in the current Middle East crisis, cannot be an honest broker. It can, however, be a simple broker, a dealer in compromised principles. Mr. Harper has rightly refused to do that. Canadians can once again feel the same kind of pride in their country that they felt in 1956."

I am encouraged by the Conservative government's clear and unequivocal stand on Israel, but I am concerned about weakening support for our mission in Afghanistan. Canada has drifted for so long, and -- thanks to multiculturalism -- there are so many different voices, values and allegiances in the country, it will take strong leadership before Canada can again be an important member of the international community. If the Liberals are elected again, I fear for the future of the country.

6/8/06 5:48 PM  

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