Danny Williams flies to U.S. health clinics, just like Jean Chretien did

Medicare is for the little people. Big shots fly to the U.S.

Here’s Danny Williams in 2008, speaking passionately about our socialist health care system (h/t sda):


Do you hear the dripping disdain he has for anyone who dares to even question the sanctity of socialist medicine?

Yet here’s Williams today, making plans to get the hell out of our health care system when it comes to someone he cares about — that is, himself.

His constituents can rot on a waiting list. Not for him, the King of the Island.

At least he isn’t lying about it, and at least he’s not using taxpayers money to fly there.

Unlike Jean Chretien. Here’s my scoop from a few years back:

PM proves health care not equal for all Canadians

Calgary Herald
Tue Jan 15 2002
Page: A15
Section: Comment
Byline: Ezra Levant
Source: For The Calgary Herald

How will Jean Chretien respond to Premier Ralph Klein’s free market-health care proposals?

Will he attack Alberta, as he did in the last federal election campaign, with negative ads on television, accusing Klein of bringing U.S.-style health care to Canada?

Or will he punish Alberta financially, as he did in the mid-1990s, by threatening to fine Alberta, dollar for dollar, for inviting private capital into health care?

Whatever Chretien does to our province, and whatever capitalistic acts he accuses Klein of engaging in, Albertans should know this: Jean Chretien takes his own family to private health clinics. In fact, he doesn’t just use U.S.-style private clinics. He actually goes to private clinics in the U.S.

And he flies to those U.S. private clinics on Canadian government jets, paid for by Canadian tax dollars.

According to access-to-information documents obtained by the Canadian Alliance, on Feb. 8, 1999, Chretien and two aides flew from Vancouver to Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic. According to air force flight logs, they flew back to Ottawa that afternoon with Chretien‘s daughter. And on Dec. 11 of the same year, Chretien went back to the clinic, this time just with his wife and his aide.

These trips were courtesy of the Canadian Forces 412th Squadron, which has flown literally thousands of nautical miles taking Chretien back and forth to the clinic.

There is nothing wrong with Chretien wanting the very best in health care for his family — even better care than he thinks he can get in Canada.

And there is probably nothing wrong with him spending tax dollars to fly to these international clinics. For security reasons alone, the prime minister should not have to fly on regular, commercial flights like the rest of us.

But it is wrong for Chretien to avail his family of private, U.S. health care while condemning Alberta for wanting to provide that same quality of care to all our citizens.

Of course, Chretien is not the first Canadian politician to receive private care.

Robert Bourassa, the late Quebec premier, flew to the U.S. for cancer treatment. Joe Clark, the leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives, paid cash for a suite at Toronto’s private Shouldice Hospital, where he had a hernia operation in the late 1980s.

Clark tried to explain that he wasn’t guilty of secretly using two-tier health care, which he had publicly campaigned against. “It’s not a tier, it’s a particular facility,” Clark explained to reporters.

Chretien was almost caught by the press, too, on his Feb. 8, 1999, trip.

Normally, no one would have known about Chretien‘s whereabouts that day. The official line was that Chretien was with his family in British Columbia — with no mention of the stop-over in the U.S.

But then King Hussein of Jordan died.

Chretien was supposed to be at the funeral, but he didn’t go. He wanted to go to the clinic in Minnesota, instead. So he claimed that the air force couldn’t get him to Jordan in time.

I was in British Columbia,” he told Parliament. “It was physically impossible for me to get to Amman,” he said. “I went skiing with my grandchildren.

It might have been embarrassing to miss a world leader’s funeral because of a family vacation.

But Chretien‘s advisers thought it would be much worse to admit to using a private U.S. clinic. In Chretien style, the decision was made to tough it out, and stand by the Vancouver-skiing-couldn’t-make-it excuse.

Under extreme political pressure, the air force released an unsigned press release, saying it had let down Chretien by not being ready.

No mention was made of the Minnesota flight. And the next day, Gen. Maurice Baril, then the Chief of Defence Staff, held a press conference to personally accept the blame. Again, no mention of the Minnesota flight.

But air force log books aren’t subject to political cleanups: they show that Chretien wasn’t in Vancouver on Feb. 8, 1999. At 7:55 a.m., he flew to Minnesota, and stayed there until 4:50 p.m., when he returned to Ottawa.

So the next time Chretien accuses Klein of promoting U.S.-style health care, the premier shouldn’t get angry. In fact, he should look at the Chretien family as a customer, and try to get the Chretien family’s health-care business.

After all, clinics in Calgary are a lot closer to the ski hills than the Mayo Clinic — and we accept payment in Canadian dollars.

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