McGuinty shifts gears, portrays chief rival as another 'Mr. Harris'

The Liberal Leader warns that John Tory will decimate health care, even as a carefully scripted event in a hospital goes sideways

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA and HAMILTON Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty shifted his campaign strategy yesterday by ramping up his attack on his archrival, warning voters of a return to Mike-Harris-style health cuts if the Progressive Conservatives win the election.

But as Mr. McGuinty touted improvements his party made to health care during a campaign stop at an Ottawa hospital, he was rebuffed by a terminally ill cancer patient who accused the Liberals for not financing certain cancer drugs.

Mike Brady, 63, refused to shake Mr. McGuinty's extended hand, telling him he has cancer and "you're not helping any."

"That's not true," Mr. McGuinty replied, before continuing his tour of the hospital.

The rebuff was an intrusion on a carefully scripted event, in which Mr. McGuinty turned his focus once again to Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory. In an attempt to stoke voters' fears, he said that a Conservative government would return the province to the days of Mr. Harris, when funding cuts decimated the public health system.

"I'm comparing the policies of Mr. Tory and Mr. Harris," Mr. McGuinty told reporters. "Yes, they are different people, but at the end of the day, what happened in the past will happen again in the future."

With just over two weeks to go before the Oct. 10 election, health care featured on the agenda of both Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Tory yesterday. Mr. McGuinty spent less time talking about his party's record in office - his main message during the past few days - and more time reminding Ontarians of the cuts to social programs Mr. Harris made as part of his Common Sense Revolution.

Mr. Harris slashed government programs after he was elected in 1995. The Liberal Leader said Ontarians are fooling themselves if they believe his adversary could phase out the annual $2.6-billion health premium and still make additional investments in health care.

At a hospital campaign stop of his own in Hamilton, Mr. Tory said he has every intention of honouring his promise to pump new dollars into health care. He said his party would invest $540-million over four years to provide every resident with an online record of their medical history by 2014. Half of Ontarians would have an electronic record by 2011, he said.

He said the Liberals promised to implement an electronic record system. But despite investing $458-million in the project, there is very little to show for it, leaving Ontario lagging behind many other provinces.

"If I had adopted Mr. McGuinty's approach on the 'never-never plan,' there would not be people watching high-definition television on Rogers Cable today or watching digital television," he said, referring to his years as the company's president and chief executive. "I oversaw the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen on time and on budget because that was my job."

Mr. Brady, the hospital patient in Ottawa who has Stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to his lungs and liver, told reporters that the Liberals do not fund cancer drugs available in other provinces.

"I'm running out of time ... I don't have the money to spend $60,000 on drugs in the United States that I need. I'm not very happy with the kind of service that we're getting," he said.

Even though Mr. McGuinty did not stop and talk to Mr. Brady, the Liberal Leader said Mr. Brady reminded him of how personal health care is and that more needs to be done.

He said Ontario relies on the advice of medical experts to recommend which new drugs to pay for. An aide later said Ontario added 12 new drugs since last year, and has doubled the budget for cancer drugs to $176-million since 2003.

Later in the evening at a Liberal barbecue rally in Ottawa, Mr. McGuinty mentioned Mr. Brady by name, even though he had never asked his name at the hospital.



Our commentary in the Globe and Mail

September 27, 2007

  1. You (Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa -Home of corrupt family court judges., Canada) wrote: Dalton McGuinty has not yet opened his mouth on the most serious problem confronting Canadians which is our negative population growth. Just how does the goverment think society will function with an ever increasing older age group being paid by the working age society? When is Dalton McGuinty or any other politician going to show that he or she understands the seriousness of the problem?
    They are too scared because it would be something that feminists dont' want to hear except of course if it somehow involves IVF or gay marriage. The only solution is a mandatory presumption of equal parenting after separation. Men are afraid to have children. Men are treated as second class human beings and now more children grow up without their biological father than those children raised with a mother and a father living in the same home. Dalton McGuinty needs show he has some real understanding of the real issues Canadians face and that he has some idea of realistic solutions. He can start with the basics of making sure society encourages reproduction between a man and a woman and that children have a fundamental right to equal parenting after divorce.