Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- As we approach the anniversary of Jack Layton's death, Tom Mulcair discusses some of the lessons he learned from his predecessor as NDP leader:
(W)hen Mulcair first joined the NDP caucus in 2007, he was sometimes frustrated by the 'go-around' sessions — seemingly endless, repetitive meetings at which MPs debated issues and batted ideas back and forth.

"Sometimes I would find the go-arounds in caucus to be really long processes, but then I realized what (Layton) was doing. He was working with every single person in the room and there was a real art to it.
He also learned something about the fine art of political persuasion from Layton.

"Jack rarely tried to convince people by saying to them, 'This is what I'm going to do for you.' Jack had a way of talking to people, which was, 'Things have to change, here's how you can help bring about that change.' That's subtle but it's something that Jack really did intuitively and it's something I picked up on."

Mulcair said he's tried to adopt a similar approach, "rather than lining up policies and saying this what we're going to do, it's we want to listen to you, we want to work with you and we think we can do things better together."
 - Duncan Cameron echoes the view that Layton's willingness to listen set him apart from far too many of his political colleagues:
Reaching out to people, getting to know what they were thinking, opening a two-way dialogue (even with serious adversaries) was what characterized Jack Layton as a leader. Canadians had Jack right. He was the guy to be with for a beer, or to share a bottle of wine. He enjoyed himself, and was easy to like, as people guessed. He wanted to share his thoughts -- after he had heard from you first.
-  And Joan Bryden reports on polling showing just how fondly Layton is remembered by Canadians in general:
12 months removed from the emotional intensity of the moment, a new poll suggests a majority of people believe last year’s remarkable national display of remembrance was both authentic and appropriate — and they continue to hold Mr. Layton and his legacy in high esteem.

Some 62 per cent of respondents to the poll, conducted by Harris-Decima for The Canadian Press, said they viewed the torrent of public grief for Mr. Layton as genuine, compared with just 27 per cent who said they felt mourners simply got caught up in the moment.
And a whopping 91 per cent said they believe Mr. Layton made a positive contribution to Canada, 33 per cent of them describing his contribution as “very positive.”
 - On another note, Steve Morgan makes the case for universal pharmacare:
A recent study found that one in 10 Canadians can’t afford to fill their prescriptions as directed. Such financial barriers often increase costs elsewhere in the health care system — from the public purse. For example, if a parent cannot afford the necessary drugs for a child’s asthma, they may be forced to visit the emergency department when the asthma gets out of control.

Thus, the question is not whether it is fair to provide refugees with prescription drug coverage; the question is whether it is fair — and even fiscally responsible — not to provide such coverage to all Canadians.
In truth, a universal Pharmacare program would save Canadians billions of dollars; some estimate up to $10 billion per year.

The proof is found in virtually all countries comparable to Canada, countries like Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In comparison to Canada, pharmaceutical spending is lower and has been growing more slowly in all of these countries. Yet they all provide better, more equitable access to prescription drugs than Canada through universal Pharmacare systems of one form or another.
If Canadians take pride in their medicare system, and want to achieve better access to medicines at lower costs than they pay today, then maybe it is time for the original vision of medicare, which included Pharmacare, to be completed as planned.
- And finally, Don Lenihan has his doubts that mandatory voting is necessary to encourage political parties to reach out to disaffected voters. But while I'd agree with Lenihan that mandatory voting without a cultural shift would have only a limited impact, it seems to me entirely possible that one might facilitate the other - both by forcing a government elected by a small proportion of the population to reach out to a far larger group, and by setting up incentives for parties to build long-term connections to voters who they know will be participating for decades to come.

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