NDP Leader Jack Layton left 24 Sussex Dr. empty-handed yesterday as Prime Minister Paul Martin rejected the New Democrats' call for a new law against private health care.
The two sides agreed to a meeting between Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and NDP health critic Jean Crowder, and Mr. Layton said he hopes a deal can be reached.
But the gulf of opinion between the two leaders indicates Mr. Layton is unlikely to repeat the success his party enjoyed in the spring when it extracted $4.6-billion in spending from the Liberals in exchange for keeping the government afloat.
While Mr. Layton said he is disappointed with the Prime Minister's response, he refused to speculate on whether he will attempt to defeat the government.
If the chiefs can't reach agreement, their underlings certainly won't.
The Canadian public is no longer as reflexively hostile towards allowing private health care into Canada as it was even just a few years ago. The waiting lines have become too long and too many people have family and friends who have suffered because of that fact.
Defending the public health care monopoly at election time is going to look less like a passionate defence of Canadian sovereignty and values, and more like indifference towards people's suffering.
The Liberals have accepted that reality and are prepared to campaign on it.
Is the Conservative Party? I wonder if the news has reached party headquarters, because I fear that we're going to find ourselves running to the left of the Liberals, right alongside the NDP, on this issue.
Doing so would be terribly misguided, not only as a betrayal of our base, but also because it would be conceding a winning plank in the platform.
They used to run against us as defenders of the status quo and win big, as we were kept on the defensive about two-tier, "American" health care.
Now they can run against us as champions of health care choice, and call us indifferent to people's suffering on waiting lines.
If we don't get out in front of the parade, the Grits will lead it and trample us right under it.
Source: Globe and Mail