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The Current Transcript for September 7, 2016
Host: Anna-Maria Tremonti
STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE
Listen to the full episode
We can't change what happened to her, either in the original incident or in the courtroom, but we can say that what happened in the courtroom was wrong.
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: That is the voice of Alice Woolley of the University of Calgary, one of the original law professors who raised concerns over the troubling statements of a judge in Alberta, regarding the sexual assault of a 19-year-old Indigenous woman. The review now underway over one judge's fitness to remain on the bench shines a spotlight on how or if judges are disciplined, just as the federal government is revamping its rules on that, and on its very method of appointing judges. We’re on that issue in just a moment. And we've got our eye on more than one courtroom in the nation this week, in BC the legal fight is medical.
We live in the only country on earth that outlaws private insurance for citizens for medically necessary services.
AMT: Dr. Brian Day began his court challenge to have private health insurance for surgery and private clinics eight years ago. It's a case with the potential to reshape our healthcare system. Dr. Brian Day and staunch public health advocate Colleen Flood join us in an hour. And in half an hour, Chris Kutarna is back. Yesterday, he was arguing that we are living through a second Renaissance. Today, he finds similarities in the populist politics of the 1400s and the words of a certain presidential candidate just over our border.
Look at the Ottoman Turks rising to the East, threatening our borders. And if you don't follow me, you know, these leaders that you have they don't have the strength.
AMT: The yuge parallels among those looking to disrupt established politics in half an hour. And since our series on disruption takes us from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg. We're live on Facebook today for this edition of The Current. I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti.
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Justice Robin Camp: What's at stake for sexual assault cases
Guests: Alison Crawford, Kim Stanton, Trevor Farrow
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI:Well it's a delicate question how to judge a judge. And it is a pressing question as an Alberta federal court judge faces a review of his fitness to remain on the bench. As you have been hearing on the news today, it all stems from a 2014 case in Alberta. Justice Robin Camp was presiding over the case a man accused of the sexual assault of a 19-year-old homeless woman. And a word of warning the way he addressed that young woman from the bench may not be suitable listening for all of our listeners. We have voiced his comments.
Why couldn't you just keep your knees together? Why’d she allow the sex to happen if she didn't want to? Why didn't you just sink your bottom down into the basin, so he couldn't penetrate you? She certainly had the ability to swear at men. For a person who didn't want to have sex, she spends a long time in the shower with the accused and went through a variety of sexual activities. She knew she was drunk is not an onus on her to be more careful? Sex and pain sometimes go together, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'll grant you that the implication from her is that she wasn't enjoying the pain, but did she ever say I was feeling horrible? She certainly had the ability, perhaps learned from her experience on the streets to tell him to f--k off.
AMT: Well, the voicing of the statements made by Justice Robin Camp, he went on to acquit the defendant in that trial. His comments gained public attention when the verdict was appealed, leading to a number of complaints about the judge's conduct. This week Justice Camp is defending himself at a disciplinary committee of the Canadian Judicial Council, the CJC. To fill us in on the significance of the judicial review, I'm joined by Alison Crawford in Ottawa. She has covered the federal court and this issue, she's a senior national reporter in CBC's parliamentary bureau. Hello Allison.
ALISON CRAWFORD: Hi, good morning.
AMT: So remind us what happened when those comments from the 2014 sexual assault first came to light.
ALISON CRAWFORD: Well, they really came to light last fall when Alberta's Court of Appeal ordered a new trial in the case of the accused Scott Wagar. And it was the court's ruling that received a lot of attention, because boy it was it was blunt. The judges, it's a panel of three judges on the court of appeals said Camp’s ruling gave a rise to doubts about his understanding of the law governing sexual assault in Canada. The judges said there were instances where it was clear to them that Camp didn’t understand some of the evidence. And they also noticed that several discredited sexual stereotypes and myths had found their way into his judgment, and that's the kind of comments that you heard in the voice overs that you had before coming to me.
AMT: And so what was the reaction from the legal community?
ALISON CRAWFORD: It recoiled, in short. Law professors including Alice Woolley, who you heard from earlier asked the CJC to review Camp’s conduct. And then a whole host of other feminist groups and groups that help victims of sexual assault chimed in, as well as dozens of members of the public who really wanted to see something done about Justice Camp.
AMT: And now, Justice Camp was an Alberta Provincial Court judge when he was presiding over that case. He was subsequently promoted to the federal court by Peter MacKay.
ALISON CRAWFORD: That's right. He was the justice minister at the time.
AMT: And had this come to light before the promotion?
ALISON CRAWFORD: Well, you know, had did come to light, it wasn't in the public domain, but sorry, the media domain. But three months before his elevation to the federal court, all of the document, the appeal had been filed at the Court of Appeal, and all of the comments and commentary and the grounds for the appeal were publicly available documents. You know, sitting judges when they're appointed to a higher court they don't have to be vetted by a judicial advisory council in every province. It's really in the hands of the minister, and you'd think that before appointing a judge you'd call you know the higher courts and say hey any appeals before this judge, and what's the nature of it? But I've asked Peter McKay many times why he chose to nominate Justice Camp to the federal court, and I haven't received a response.
AMT: So he's given no comment.
ALISON CRAWFORD: Nope.
AMT: So, we should note he has apologized for his comments. How else has the judge responded?
ALISON CRAWFORD: Well, he has apologized to just about everyone. He also apologized to the crown prosecutor, because he made a number of comments relating to her that weren't very appropriate either. He's undergone counseling with a psychologist that’s sort of challenged his beliefs and assumptions. He's had training with a judge, as well as an expert on sexual assault law. And you know, he's made it clear in his submission to the CJC that he really wants to remain on the bench and says that all of this education and counseling will make him a better judge in the future.
AMT: Now, the council has granted a few women's advocacy and legal groups intervener status. How unusual is that?
ALISON CRAWFORD: It’s exceptional. It's never happened before. But it's really interesting to me and many people, because when they granted the intervener status, they said were doing so in light of the current and social context surrounding how the justice system responds to sexual assault complaints. So, you know, that's a reference to the Ghomeshi case, which drew so much public attention, and many other cases over the over the years. And even just last month, there was another Alberta Court Justice Michael Savaryn, who had acquitted a teenager of sexual assault. But the judge on the Court of Queen's Bench there ordered a new trial saying she didn't think Savaryn understood the law. There's all these cases that many people feel are you know, it's causing the justice system to fall into a little bit of disrepute and they want to fix that. And also, there's a concern about people not reporting sexual assault. It's already a very under reported crime. And if people see that you know, over and over again that these cases are being overturned because you know, judges may not understand the evidence. Among other problems that you know, that's the impact of this kind of case. So, the interveners have made their written submissions, they won't be actually speaking at the hearing this week. And it's clear the council will go beyond the camp decision on whether he's fit to remain a judge, because they've said publicly they realize that their findings will contribute to the overall discussion Canadians are having about how the justice system responds to sexual assault.
AMT: And at the same time that this is under way Alison, the federal government is re-examining the process by which judges are disciplined.
ALISON CRAWFORD: Yeah, yeah.
AMT: But that's kind of quiet, isn’t it?
ALISON CRAWFORD: Yeah, very quiet. [chuckles] I did a story about this last week, that the Justice Canada announced and I say that with air quotes, it’s consultation with Canadians about some of the options before it on how to update and modernize the disciplinary system for judges. And it only announced it with a single tweet on a Friday before the Canada Day long weekend at around 4:00 pm.. So when I did my story last week, it was one day before the consultation period closed and only six members of the public had responded, as well as three legal groups, even the Canadian Bar Association had not yet responded. So, but the options before, Justice Canada is you know, they have to make regulatory and rule changes to allow the CJC to do more. So, they look they're looking at how to speed up the process of disciplining judges. They're looking at things like whether taxpayers should pay for all judges appeals when they're disciplined by the CJC, because they feel that that kind of draws out litigation which is costly. And also making the process more transparent, involving the public more and giving the CJC more choice when it comes to disciplining judges, because right now it's kind of an all or nothing. You’re either fit or not fit to remain on the bench. But maybe someone could be suspended or ordered to take counseling, that kind of thing.
AMT: And also this is happening when the government is actually reviewing how it appoints judges as well.
ALISON CRAWFORD: Yup, that's correct there's a lot of consultation and a lot of work going on and in terms of what the justice minister has to get done.
AMT: Really interesting times. Alison Crawford, thank you.
ALISON CRAWFORD: You're welcome.
AMT: Alison Crawford, national reporter in CBC's parliamentary bureau. She covers the federal court in Ottawa and has been covering this. It may just be one judge and one courtroom incident up for review at the Judicial Council this week. But we are going to talk about the implications of all of this. You are listening to The Current on CBC Radio 1, Sirius XM, and online on cbc.ca/thecurrent. We are also coming live to you on Facebook Live today for this first half hour of The Current. I have two guests standing by now, because there are a lot of people anticipating the outcome of this and what it will mean for sexual assault complainants. Kim Stanton is legal director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, that is also known as LEAF. She is among, LEAF is among those given intervener status at this hearing for Robin Camp. So she's spending the next several days attending those proceedings. She joins us from Calgary. Trevor Farrow is a law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. He's with me in our Toronto studio. Hello to you both.
MANY VOICES: Good morning.
AMT: Kim Stanton, let's start with you. The Canadian Judicial Council doesn't often allow for groups such as yours to appear as interveners. What's the significance of this, what will your role be?
KIM STANTON: So our role was limited to written submissions, but it's very significant that this committee actually put out a notice to potential interveners back in May, in anticipation of these proceedings to alert groups like ours to the possibility that we could intervene. I don't believe that there has ever been interventions like this before in a CJC hearing. And it's very significant because it shows that the CJC, the Canadian Judicial Committee, is aware that this situation calls for public attention and calls for them to have a process that's transparent and accountable to the public.
AMT: So what is your organization saying in its submission?
KIM STANTON: We're saying that an inquiry into a judge's conduct must be informed by an appreciation of the history and evolution of the legal rules that protect sexual assault complainants and the public's experience of it. So, we're saying that the committee needs to take into account the historical, legal, and social inequalities that have challenged public perceptions of judicial impartiality and integrity in the application of sexual assault law. And we're saying those considerations should inform the committee's work, and that means looking at the history of sexual assault law in Canada and looking at the experience of marginalised groups under that law. You know, the interpretation and application of their own ethical principles for judges need to be taken into account with those contractual considerations in mind. And they need to understand that the public, in his confidence, the judiciary’s legitimacy depends, includes women, and it's the majority of sexual assault complainants who are women. And they need to consider those things and considering the test for a judge's removal.
AMT: Yeah, he's apologized for his conduct. He says he's taken sensitivity training is that enough?
KIM STANTON: So my concern actually isn't so much, well, I'm of course concerned about the various sexist comments that were made and his perpetuation of myths and stereotypes of sexual assault complainants. But my bigger concern is the one of public confidence in the judiciary. If a judge shows disdain for the hard fought protections in place for sexual assault complainants, that's a much more fundamental problem. So, he said sexist things in the in the trial, but no matter what the area of law, counsel and witnesses and defense and victims must be able to rely on judges upholding the rule of law. It's fundamental to our democracy and a willful refusal to apply the law, or at least the public perception that a judge does so is a major problem.
AMT: Does your organization want him off the bench?
KIM STANTON: So, as an intervener we don't take a position on the disposition. What we're concerned with here is the process of this inquiry, and ensuring that it hears the voices of sexual assault survivors when it is making its deliberations.
AMT: OK, well, let's bring Trevor Farrow into this. What would you say to someone who thinks he should be removed from the bench?
TREVOR FARROW: Well I think it's important to understand this is a big case, it's a big case about this judge and everyone is focused on that. Equally if not more important, it's a big case for the justice system and society generally. It's about the public confidence in the system. And without that kind of confidence, the rule of law and processes within democracy struggle. It's about judicial independence, and the balance of the importance of that principle while still having the ability when judges are offside the law and offside that principle to reprimand them. And ultimately, it's also about society's ability to deal with ongoing issues of sexual violence and sexual inequality in a way that will make some fundamental changes.
AMT: OK, so let's pick that apart a little bit. Speak to me about judicial independence and the importance of it and where it's at work in this case?
TREVOR FARROW: Lots of people think about judicial independence as a principle that's designed to protect judges. And sure, it protects judges. More importantly in my view though, it's really about the protection of society. If we do not have an independent judiciary, and what I mean by that is judges who are able to make decisions that are free from political influence, power influence, and what have you that are true to the law, then the whole justice system falls apart. What happened in this case however, is that a judge obviously went offside the law. What this judge said was reprehensible. He's recognized that, his family recognized, everyone recognized that. So the idea is to try and find a way to protect the independence of the judiciary, which is fundamental to society, while at the same time allowing us to discipline judges.
AMT: Right, now, when you say he went offside the law, not solely, we're not just talking the statements, he actually allowed sexual history to be used, the complainant’s sexual history, he did things that the courts have actually said you can't do.
TREVOR FARROW: What this judge has acknowledged himself and what is clear from the transcripts and what happened, is that the law and the principles around the protection of victims in sexual assault and complainants and witnesses were not protected. That's clear. The Supreme Court of Canada has set out that law almost 20 years ago, and so there was a miscarriage of justice in this case around those laws. Having said that, it goes beyond that as well. It's really also about the kinds of statements and the treatments of women in courtrooms and others in courtrooms around, do people feel protected by the system? Do people feel safe with within the system? And are people represented by that system? And if that's not the case, the system's got to change. And obviously the federal government knows that. And the council itself knows that.
AMT: I'm looking at the reporting on what came out yesterday, Kim Stanton, and the daughter of the judge has given a statement saying that talking about an alleged sexual assault that she experienced and said she didn't go to the court because of her own concerns about being in a courtroom on these issues. What does that say?
ALISON CRAWFORD: Well it--
AMT: [interposing] She was also supporting her father, but she also speaks to the discomfort women have in courtrooms when it comes to this issue.
ALISON CRAWFORD: Well, that's right. And as Trevor Farrow was saying, the references by the judge to the protections that were brought in, very hard fought protections, that organizations like LEAF for over 30 years has fought to get into the law and to uphold, in terms of protecting sexual assault complainants, so that they would come forward. We know that those reporting rates have actually declined over the years, even with those protections in place. And so, when a judge perpetuates rape myths and sexual stereotypes, and fails to respect and promote the principle of equality, it not only compounds the original trauma of sexual assault complainants, it also provides the basis for fears that the criminal justice system won't treat with dignity the women who are considering making a complaint, and it dissuades them from coming forward. So it really compounds the larger problem that parliament tried to address in the significant reforms it made to the criminal law over the years. And you know, all of this is also happening in the context of, I can't help but think, you know, in the context of the missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry that started last week, and the hearing of the appeal in the Cindy Gladue murder case yesterday, that began yesterday in Edmonton and the Alberta Court of Appeal. You know, women who are Indigenous women, who are homeless women, who are disabled women, who are sorry, living with a disability, women who experience racism are disproportionately victimized by sexual assault in this country. And it's really not what the judge intended. That is the question here. The question is what is the impact of the conduct on the perceptions of litigants who may appear before him in the future?
AMT: OK, and let me just ask the Canadian Judicial Council, how much power does it have to actually do something about judges? How often does this happen that a judge actually gets called before the council Trevor?
ALISON CRAWFORD: It's quite rare, oh sorry.
AMT: Go ahead Trevor.
TREVOR FARROW: It doesn't happen very often.
AMT: And how much power do they have?
TREVOR FARROW: Well, there are a couple of things here. One is, I think it's important for people to know that the council is in a relatively tough spot. As you mentioned, or as the reporter mentioned at the beginning, it's a bit of an all or nothing context. The legislation at the moment provides the council the ability either to remove the judge or essentially there's no other sanction. And so, one of the things that the government and the council itself and others are calling for is to expand the powers of the council to bring in different kinds of sanctions and remedies in these sorts of cases, to allow a full range of options in the same kind of way that we would have in other kinds of hearings.
AMT: Now, we're talking about one specific case and very specifically about comments and treatment around sexual assault. You talk about judicial independence. We have come out of a period politically, where we have seen the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and some of his cabinet actually make comments about judge’s decisions, disagree with judges. Do you have concerns about judicial independence in relation to how we look at judges?
TREVOR FARROW: I think it's important to know, we have a strong judiciary in this country and that's a good thing. And we have seen over the past couple of years, comments from various sources of power that could be seen to have attempted to erode that independence. I don't think it has. The important thing in this case and these kinds of cases is to try and maintain that notion of strong judicial independence without protecting it too much in these sorts of egregious cases.
AMT: We have to leave it there. Thank you, both of you.
KIM STANTON: Thank you.
AMT: Kim Stanton, Legal Director of LEAF, the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund. She's in Calgary. Trevor Farrow, a law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, in Toronto. And stay with us, the news is next. And then we're going to be talking about how to navigate the current age of disruption with Chris Kutarna, what he calls a second renaissance. And a reminder that we are Facebook Live for this half hour, you can go to Facebook to see us, we are The Current, CBC Radio One.
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Are we living in the age of the 2nd Renaissance? | Part 2
Guests: Chris Kutarna
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: Hello I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, and you're listening to The Current.
AMT: Still to come. It's a long simmering debate in this country, should Canadians have access to private surgery clinics and the right to insurance to pay for medically necessary procedures? Skipping the public system and its waiting lists. The debate has come to a boil this week with a court case in BC. We will wade in in half an hour. But first, the return to the age of discovery.
[Music: The Disruptors theme]
AMT: If you were here with us yesterday on The Current, you know we kicked off our new season-long project The Disruptors with that music, and speaking to Chris Kutarna. He's got a book, he's a co-author, Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance. And it takes a look at some of the massive forces disrupting our current age. And it puts all of these turbulent times into an historical context. So, for all the doom and gloom you may see in the world today, Chris Kutarna argues that we actually are alive at the best time in history. The scope of his book is vast, so vast that we've invited him back today to keep the discussion going. To hear more about some of the parallels he sees between the world today and the world of the first Renaissance, and if you missed the first part of our conversation, you can find it on our website cbc.ca/thecurrent, or go to the CBC Radio app to hear what he had to say yesterday. But right now, Chris Kutarna joins us again from Beijing. Welcome back.
CHRIS KUTARNA: Anna-Maria, thank you for having me back again, I had so much fun the last time.
AMT: Well, let's pick up on some of the things that you were talking about and specifically about information. One of the defining inventions of the last Renaissance was Gutenberg's printing press. Now we've gone from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg. The comparison has been made between the printing press and the internet and all the information. Which has had the greater impact?
CHRIS KUTARNA: Hah, well, I guess, the probably the right answer was that so far it's probably been the Gutenberg printing press, but that in the long run it's going to be the internet and digitization. The comparison is really remarkable. You know, one of the things that both of these two information revolution share is their speed. Johannes Gutenberg developed a printing press in the 1450s, and someone born in the 1450s, by their 50th birthday had lived through a world in which the book, in which printed material had gone from a rarely seen luxury item to a completely ubiquitous object. There were over, I think, is it 10 or 20 million volumes of some one or 200,000 unique titles published in just sort of the first few decades of print. So it completely just rushed through European society and became this ubiquitous object. And it’s very much I think the same experience that we have had with the internet. I mean, if you think back to a world when you know, we had to go to a public library to look up the capital of a country we didn't know, unless you were lucky to have the Encyclopedia Britannica at home. That seems so long ago, but that was at least within my lifetime. And it's just so, the internet, like the printing press before it has so rapidly changed the the information environment that we live in and our expectations for information. But long term I have to believe it's going to have a much bigger impact than the printing press, which you know, so many scholars and historians looking back on the last millennium identified as the most important invention of humanity's second millennium. I just believe that it is already just transforming our whole experience of how we coexist with one another. And you know, and there's a long history yet to be written of the wide impacts that that has not only on things like science and technology, and the speed at which innovation happens, but on society, on identity. There's a long and interesting history waiting to be written.
AMT: And of course, there are wondrous things and negative things, and I want you to speak about that. But also, this enables new thinking and new discovery. And I'm wondering if you see that comparison again with the European Renaissance, of the disruptions that fuel genius.
CHRIS KUTARNA: Absolutely. I mean, there are many many dimensions of this. But just within Europe, I mean, something that the printing press did and how it helped to accelerate genius in the first Renaissance is, and you actually had people, learned people, who were writing and singing out why should we prefer the wisdom of people with formal education when these books exist that enable anyone to become an expert through diligent study? And so you had you know, freelance astronomers like Tycho Brahe who you know, became one of the most accomplished astronomers of their generation despite having relatively little formal education. And I think that we're seeing that kind of transformation now. I mean, there is acceleration and an expansion in the ability to develop the genius that is latent in all of us through these new technologies that we possess, and it's tremendously exciting. Again, if we go back to what we were talking about yesterday and how this in some fundamental ways is the best time in history to be alive. In 1990, half of the adult population on earth was still illiterate. Now, it's more like one sixth, one seventh, which means two things. One, there are three billion more brains that are literate in the world today that can tap into this global knowledge network. But two, it also means that for everyone now, there is so much more incentive to learn to read and write because this free global knowledge resource exists, if you can just get over that hurdle of literacy. And again, I have to believe just sort of fundamentally looking at the moment we live in, that so many educated brains with access to so much data is going to have tremendous positive consequences for human science, which we're already seeing in many domains. But also just creativity and genius in a far more general sense.
AMT: And yet, at the same time and we get this because we do have so much information flow. We have people who are controlled by tyrants. We have wars, we have suffering, there would be a lot of people who would be hard pressed to agree with you right now.
CHRIS KUTARNA: No, I think that's right. And again, so you know, my mantra and here I am you know, speaking to you from Beijing and China and it's kind of a, it's an apt comparison. I was speaking to a group of journalists here just a few nights ago, and we're talking about the consequences for China and all of these technological changes. And my mantra being that you know, there are these positive consequences that we always talk about. But you know, it's naive if we're only looking at the positives. We must look at the negatives. And the same technologies that empower individuals, well, the reality is that these same technologies also strengthen the state. And it's interesting that this was very true as well, in the first Renaissance. One of the big consequences of print was binding together in a way that just wasn't possible before language groups. You know, take English for example. You know, in the 1450s there were many Englishes in England and many different dialects, you know, a lot of which were just unable to understand one another. But then print standardized that. However you spoke the word it looked the same on paper. And very quickly you get a larger population recognizing that in some fundamental way we are the same, you know, we're all English or we're all French. And that had positive consequences in terms of you know, that enabled people like William Shakespeare or Cervantes in Spanish to become these wonderful geniuses of literature, these cultural archetypes. But it also meant that the state could now bind to larger populations together for things like military campaigns for example. And we're seeing that today with digital technologies. There is so much power now that the state has access to to surveil societies. I mean, and the computing power is there as well to sift through it. There's really little limit to the state's capacity to monitor, to evaluate, to capture private data. And you know, one of the big big questions that every society faces is will states exercise that power responsibly. Or what does it even mean to exercise it responsibly? I mean, some of these powers are so new that I don't think we have well-settled public views ethics about how to use it correctly.
AMT: I want to continue asking you a little bit about politics, but let's get specific. Let's go back to the Renaissance period. You identify a disruptive politician and you see parallels. What's the story of Girolamo Savonarola?
CHRIS KUTARNA: Well Savonarola, probably a name that not many people these days recognize but most people would probably recognize what he's famous for which is the Bonfire of the Vanities. And Savonarola was a Dominican friar who came to Florence as a political outsider, kind of had an apocalyptic message, was deeply charismatic. He was very clever to use new media, the new medium of print. And what he figured out is that you know, printing books can take a long time but printing pamphlets is a very quick and inexpensive way to get out his message onto the streets and to shape sort of the media cycle. And he put all of that together and lead this wholly improbable campaign that no one saw coming to oust the Medici, who were the ultimate establishment power in really Renaissance Europe, and you know, underwrote a lot of Florence. To oust the Medici from Florence and start a political and religious revolution. It's a remarkable story. And you know, as I was reading it and looking at the US presidential election, it's impossible not to draw strong parallels to Donald Trump. In fact, in some cases the parallel is downright scary. I mean Savonarola would stand up and you know, give his stirring sermons to 10,000 people in the central Cathedral in Florence, telling people look, you are going to be richer, more powerful, greater than you were ever been. You're going to be so rich that you're going to say to us we don't want anything more. But if you don't follow me, it's not going to happen. [chuckling] He had this kind of--
AMT: [interposing] And so he was make Florence great again. That was his message.
CHRIS KUTARNA: [laughing] That's exactly what he said.
AMT: And he was pamphleting, he wasn't using Twitter.
CHRIS KUTARNA: And he was scaring people. Because he said you know, look at the Ottoman Turks rising to the East, threatening our borders. You know, look to the marauding French to the West, you know, we are under siege. And if you don't follow me you know, these leaders that you have they don't have the strength to fend off these dangers. They've proven their moral corruption. We need new leadership if we're going to sort of, well, he framed it in religious terms. If God is going to grace us with the strength to resist these influences and people were deeply anxious. And Savonarola, he very skillfully tapped that and it drew to him just a horde of sensation seekers who wanted to just be a part of that movement, and probably also people who had genuinely lost their faith and just felt that maybe through the strength of his self-belief he could actually help to restore it. And there's a lot I think, of you know, one really good way, and everyone I think for a year now has been trying to understand you know, Trumpism and the Trump phenomenon. But I think a lot of his psychology, his behaviour, and popular appeal makes sense if we think of him as a kind of prophet, as a doomsayer, that that's his role and that's the kind of the kind of appeal that he has to at least his core base of supporters.
AMT: Well, you're also identifying a time of upheaval where Savonarola tried to bring things back and where Trump is trying to do that. But if Trump is Savonarola who is Hillary Clinton?
CHRIS KUTARNA: [laughing] I mean, this I suppose is very controversial, but if we look at the history books I think that the best pairing is Niccolo Machiavelli. And Machiavelli, I think, in contemporary discourse kind of gets a bad rep. You know, he was Machiavellian, he's very cynical. And there's good evidence that he was cynical. I mean, here is a man who spent his entire career in and out of politics and it probably embittered him to a lot of things. Machiavelli famously wrote that the first rule of politics is to trust no one. And I think maybe Clinton has you know, in some of her behaviour suggests that that's maybe a rule that she holds onto as well. But Machiavelli and Savonarola are really two sides of the same story of what was going on in Florence. Machiavelli in some of his writings, he clearly indicated that he kind of detested this prophet Savonarola. At one time he wrote that you know, Savonarola he colours his lies to suit the times. Suggesting that here's a man who was just saying whatever the crowd needs to hear, but really doesn't have underlying convictions that remain constant as the events around him change. And what Machiavelli was if Savonarola was the prophet, Machiavelli was the bureaucrat. And so in some ways, Savonarola’s legacy was to whip up the tensions of the time, Machiavelli's his legacy was to deal with all of that.
AMT: And you know, we're talking about politics and the parallels to the Renaissance. I want to move you on to health and medicine, some of the most significant disruptions in the world today. Can you give us some examples?
CHRIS KUTARNA: I think if I can talk big picture for a moment. I think that broadly speaking the most significant disruption in health and medicine is a paradigm shift from treating the body to transforming the body. And you know, we're really just at the beginning of this technology and you know, to some extent the pace of this development is perhaps going to be more dictated by our ethical and political constraints that we put upon this kind of experimentation, rather than the technology itself. I mean, we are rapidly developing sort of our understanding of the book of life, sort of DNA, of how it relates to the human organism. It's a very complex book and there's a lot that we don't yet understand. But we're already understanding enough that we can tinker with nature's designs. So you know, several years ago already in a kind of playful way science was bringing to life in the petri dish species that nature had never intended. Here in China, one interesting experiment was to take the genes from a jellyfish that cause phosphorescence and splice them into pig embryos and then giving birth to pigs that glow in the dark, that actually glow in the dark. Now that's kind of Frankenscience, but it proved a technique that was viable. So we're already doing this genetic manipulation now, and then the only real question is to what extent and how quickly are we going to do it to the human species. China, where I am right now, again is a place where there are far fewer ethical limits on this kind of experimentation. And so at least you know, in the near future China may race ahead in developing the technologies to tinker with the human genome.
AMT: So, let me ask you. Our world seems to get more complex everyday then on so many levels. What happens when that complexity grows so fast that people can't keep up?
CHRIS KUTARNA: Right. Well, you know, you've put your finger right on it there. That's one of the big challenges that science for example, like medicine, is racing ahead. And we've just got to recognize that that science of say genetic manipulation is really presenting us already with the most profound ethical questions that science has ever presented us. You know, ought we to assist nature or interfere with nature's evolution of ourselves? Should we evolve a more evolved form of us? I mean, that may be the most difficult ethical question that science has ever faced. And we have to recognize that those are the kind of powers that we're putting into our hands now. And you know, as communities, as a society, we have to get far more engaged in these things and recognize that it's not you know, science isn't something that just happens over there, people who sort of pursue that track of education. It happens to all of us. We all have a stake. And you know, our sort of, our institutions and our public ethics for recognizing these challenges and addressing them, I think we all need to just lean in. And you know, in democratic societies for example, we need to advocate and vote for stronger public discourse on these questions, because they're not going to go away. They're only going to continue to challenge us. I mean, another good example is automation and robotics. One study that we did at the Oxford Martin School in the last couple of years estimates that in the US half of all jobs today are at high risk of being automated by 2050 Half. What consequences does that have for society? How disruptive is that going to be to the workforce? To whom will the gains of mass automation flow? To the owners of the robots or to everyone who you know, suddenly has more leisure time. These are fundamental questions about how we want to shape our transformation. And I really believe if I can just sort of make the broader comment, you know, I think that this is a healthy maturation. We're kind of moving from an adolescence to an adulthood in this second Renaissance. And one good example of that is globalization. You know, in the 1990s you know, here is another word that broadly sort of had a positive feel and the story that a lot of us subscribe to and that was heavily promoted by political leaders is that you know, opening and connecting up our societies and our economies to one another is going to automatically deliver benefits to everyone through a kind of trickle down logic. You know, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, in the aftermath of things like Brexit, of the hugely successful populist campaigns of people like Trump and Bernie Sanders, I think we're all recognizing now that that was naive. That you know, positive distributions of the gains for everyone don't happen automatically. We live in a time of disruption and there are gains and there are losses. And if we want to distribute those gains and losses in a way that we all benefit so that we don't feel the kind of overwhelm that you just described, then we need to actively through our politics shape that distribution. It doesn't happen, and that is really I think one of the big messages of the first Renaissance to take into the second. That yes there's a lot of stuff happening but we can shape it. In fact, we have to shape it. And the notion that we can step back and whether it's medical science or economic growth or automation or digitization, the notion that we can step back and let the positive consequences come to us is completely false. This is a time for radical activism you know, rather than waiting for the good things to come.
AMT: Chris Kutarna, you've given us a lot to think about and you've actually touched on some of the themes and some of the issues we'll dig even deeper on as we go through this season on Disruptors. Thanks for all your work and your thinking on this. It's really been great to talk to you.
CHRIS KUTARNA: Thank you so much Anna-Maria.
AMT: Chris Kutarna. He's co-author with Ian Goldin of Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance. Chris is originally from Regina, he's now a fellow at the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University. We caught up with him in Beijing. Now, stay with us. Coming up next we go from moments of disruption on a vast historical scale to your own personal moments of disruption. We'll hear the first of many personal moments of disruption that you've been sending in. We'll also hear about a court proceeding under way in BC. Some say it could change Canadian health care forever, in sickness and in health. I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, this is The Current on CBC Radio 1, Sirius XM and online on cbc.ca/thecurrent. And today, I'm not just in your ear I can be in your face. We are live with Facebook Live today for the first half hour of the program. If you missed it, it's not quite live but it's still up there. So go to Facebook and get a glimpse of what we do behind the scenes. This is The Current.
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Moments of Disruption: How a relationship can shake up a family
Guests: Shelly, Patel
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: Hello I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, and this is The Current. Now, coming up if you're on a waiting list for an all-important medical procedure, should you have the right to pay for it at a private clinic? We're going to take up that debate in a few moments. But first…
[Music: The Disruptors Theme]
AMT: All this season on The Current we're going to be hearing stories about the forces disrupting society at large. We're also going to be hearing about your own personal moments of disruption. Throughout the summer, we put out the call for stories about surprising turns of events that disrupted and forever reshaped your lives. And we have heard from a lot of listeners, including this story from Fredericton, New Brunswick, from a woman who says she and her partner are in a relationship that has disrupted their lives and the lives of their families.
SHELLY: I'd like us to overcome this together and I hope that you know, we can stay together. You know, we love each other very much. But it is a big hurdle to overcome.
PATEL: I've had sleepless nights. And there are times when I would lock myself up in the bathroom and I would just cry, because it seems like I'm in the middle of things and I just can't bring the two parties together.
PATEL: This is Patel. I grew up in Bangladesh and I left when I was 17.
SHELLY: My name is Shelly. I grew up in Prince Edward Island and I now live in New Brunswick.
PATEL: I have been living in Fredericton for the last seven years or so. I came here as a graduate student. I decided to stay here and make a life.
[chord music playing]
SHELLY: So, we met like most normal couples do these days, online. On eHarmony. So we chatted on eHarmony for a little while. You know, he was humorous and he was articulate and much better writer than most Canadian guys I had corresponded with. So, that was a bonus right away.
PATEL: She was really nice and genuine and so we decided to keep talking. And then at one point we thought that it would be a good time for us to meet.
SHELLY: So we met at a pub for dinner and we you know, we obviously had some things in common and we had a good time and both of us were a bit nervous and...
PATEL: We went on a few dates and we talked about a lot of stuff. We were from different cultures and different backgrounds, and so we wanted to be really sure that you know, our values are in alignment, I guess.
SHELLY: Four or five months in we both kind of said that you know, we loved each other and you know, we had never met someone else you know, we felt so comfortable with.
PATEL: Her parents are really nice people you know, they’re from PEI. Really easy to get along with. I think her dad asked me what are your intentions with my daughter? And I think I said that my intentions are good.
PATEL: They were quite accepting right away. I think ideally they would have liked to have seen me settle down with a good Catholic island boy. But at the same time you know, they liked him right away and then his parents came to visit a few months after that.
[ominous music playing]
PATEL: So they met with Shelley there and we had a nice dinner, we talked about a lot of stuff there. And you know, they were fine.
SHELLY: I remember I had sort of told some of my friends like, I'm going out to meet this guy's family you know, I'm really nervous. And then when I returned I sent another email saying it went really well. So at first it did seem that it went well.
PATEL: But what happened was after Shelley left my mom started crying and then started telling me all these things that she didn't like about Shelly. And it turned out that my dad didn't like her either. This is what they said. Well, you don't want to be with somebody who's that independent and who has her own car and her own money, because she doesn't really need you for anything in life. And so after a couple of months she's going to be bored with you and then she's just going to leave you, because she's already got everything she needs.
SHELLY: You know, I think to them it felt as though he was sort of forsaking the culture and the life that they had given him.
PATEL: It's a tough situation for me because I really love my parents. I respect them a lot. And I want them to be part of my life. But I keep hearing from them that you know, if I go with Shelley then they would not ever come visit me. And basically what they're saying is they’d sever all ties with me.
SHELLY: You know, at first I was devastated. You know, that these people were so disapproving of someone and that they didn't know at all.
PATEL: It's been extremely painful for me. I've had a lot of difficulty concentrating on my work. It has taken a toll on my mental health, also on my physical health.
SHELLY: We love each other very much but it is a big hurdle to overcome. And in the sense the ball's in his court, because he's the one who has to decide what he wants for his future and you know, and how much he can handle.
PATEL: I saw a counselor for a period of time to help me organize my thoughts and to help me deal with this emotional pain and suffering.
SHELLY: We have to be careful because every so often it feels as though he is trying to make me into the person that he thinks that they will approve of and maybe it'll just make everything better. But you know, that's just not going to happen.
PATEL: I guess my options are to go along with what my parents are saying, which is an arranged marriage where they find a partner, suitable partner, for me and I have to agree to marry that person and not continue this relationship with Shelly, just break it off. And the other option would be to be with Shelly and try to bring my parents on board and try to get them to agree. Which I think is also equally difficult for me, because I don't think my parents are ever going to be on board. I mean, I've been trying for the last three and a half years but the only thing I keep hearing is no. So those are the two options and neither is easy for me.
[somber piano music playing]
AMT: Well, thanks to Shelly for writing to us. Keep your personal moments of disruption, keep sending them in, we'll be sharing them on air throughout the season. You can go to the contact section of our website at cbc.ca/thecurrent. And if you could, include the words personal disruption in the subject line and we'll spot it right away.
[Music: The Disruptors theme]
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Should Canadians have access to private surgery clinics?
Guests: Dr. Brian Day, Colleen Flood
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: You are listening to The Current on CBC Radio 1, Sirius XM and online on cbc.ca/thecurrent. And this morning, we are Facebook Live for the first half hour of our program, if you want to see a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes on Facebook. So, head to Facebook today to see us on The Current. Now, yesterday a hearing began in BC in the Supreme Court of BC, and the outcome could have consequences for health care right across the country. The plaintiffs argue they have a constitutional right to pay for medically necessary treatment in private surgery centres. BC’s Medicare Protection Act bans the use of private health insurance to pay for medically necessary treatments. It also prevents doctors from billing patients extra for services offered by the public system. This is the case in most of the country. Now, in this case six of the eight plaintiffs in the case are patients who allege they suffered while waiting for care in the public system. Two of the plaintiffs actually died of cancer in the years since the lawsuit was first filed in 2009. The case is already sparking a lot of conversation in BC. Yesterday CBC's province-wide phone in show heard from a caller named Gary who decided not to wait. He paid for surgery on his spine at a private clinic.
It was sufficient. Two days later, I was able to walk without pain in my back. It was expensive but the result is life-changing. My wife every day, she says a thank you prayer to the doctor that did the surgery. If I had gone with the public system, which I had been waiting for over six months, it would have been over another additional two years before I could have gotten the surgery. Six months after the booking was made by my family doctor, I would have had with another six months to see the specialist who would examine me and decide what to do.
AMT: Well, instead he said he had the surgery in two weeks. Many people are upset by the idea of Canadian doctors providing private health care outside of the public system. And yesterday, people who felt that way gathered outside the Vancouver courthouse to express their concerns.
PROTESTORS: Public health, not private wealth. Public health, not private wealth.
VOICE 1: I’m here because I believe in public healthcare. And to me, this is the most direct attack on it that I've experienced in my life.
VOICE 2: Fifty years ago I was an American, and I had a daughter who was born here with a hole in her heart and I couldn't go back, because she would have died there because we wouldn't be able to get insurance and that's the kind of system that we have to stop.
PROTESTORS: Don’t pay Dr. Day, don’t pay Dr. Day.
AMT: Well, the Dr. Day they are chanting about is Dr. Brian Day. He is the medical director of the Cambie surgery centre, which is one of the plaintiffs in this case. Dr. Brian Day joins us from Vancouver. Hi Dr. Day. Hi, good morning. Well, first of all you heard those demonstrators, how do you respond to the concerns they raise?
DR. BRIAN DAY: Well, there as you heard, the only real point they’re raising is we don't want an American style system which is a very common way to debate on this issue. Which is, we want a public system that's working and we know and the plaintiffs in this case will demonstrate that the public system in Canada is performing very poorly. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago the Federal Minister Philpott was in Vancouver, and in a speech at the Canadian Medical Association pointed out that Canada in a recent study was ranked 10th of 11 countries in terms of quality. And yet, it's up there near the top in terms of cost. And the country ranked 11th was the United States. So clearly you don't want to copy a system that's even more dysfunctional than yours. But what we're looking at is to emulate countries that are near the top. And some of the European countries like Germany, Holland, Belgium, they have a universal system in which there are no waits, in which everyone gets treated in a timely manner. And many of these countries cost much less than ours. So, we're looking to improve the public system, it’s what the Canadian Medical Association, which by the way this lawsuit is about, bringing into public policy the policy of Canadian Medical Association. It's what they call Medicare plus.
DR. BRIAN DAY: The plan is to expand Medicare, so that it not only covers what it covers now but also drug and physiotherapy and all the [unintelligible] that are lacking.
AMT: Right, OK. So but your specific case is actually challenging the BC ban on private health insurance for surgeries that are actually covered by the public dime correct? Am I right, that’s the constitutional challenge.
DR. BRIAN DAY: The constitutional challenge is a bit more than that. But the basic essence of our argument is that we have a system that's the only system in the world that is almost a complete monopoly when it comes to physicians in the hospital.
AMT: Right, I know, but in order to do this you it's a constitutional challenge correct?
DR. BRIAN DAY: Correct--
AMT: [interposing] OK, so--
DR. BRIAN DAY: It’s the way to break down the fact that governments have trampled on the constitutional rights of its citizens. That's what the case is about.
DR. BRIAN DAY: OK, so help me understand in practical terms. You have the Cambie Surgery Centre, right? You do surgery there now.
DR. BRIAN DAY: Right.
AMT: OK, give me an example of one kind of surgery that you do a lot of.
DR. BRIAN DAY: Well, knee ligament injuries, shoulder surgery, we do a lot of--
AMT: [interposing] OK, so let's just take one, knee ligament. OK. Now, right now if somebody comes to you for knee ligament surgery. Have they been on the waiting list or can they come separately?
DR. BRIAN DAY: Patients come to us after they try often. The vast majority of the patients we treat at our clinic are injured workers on the job. Less than ten per cent of the patients at our clinic are people who would be affected by this lawsuit. So, it's not by no means the biggest component of what we do, but the paradox is that we treat injured workers quickly and rapidly under a [unintelligible] BC insurance scheme, and we cannot, and these patients are coming to us like the patient just quoted, because they're desperate, they're on a public waitlist.
AMT: OK, I get that, we heard that clip. Help me understand. So if you could just let me take you through this, so I understand so they come to you for a kind of knee surgery. You’re a private clinic right?
DR. BRIAN DAY: Yes.
DR. BRIAN DAY: Well, it’s not mine there are shareholders.
AMT: Well, yes, OK. But you speak for the clinic, right?
DR. BRIAN DAY: Yes.
AMT: OK. So, they come to you for the surgery. Who pays for that surgery?
DR. BRIAN DAY: They do.
AMT: They do out of their own pocket.
DR. BRIAN DAY: Yes.
AMT: OK. And the BC health system doesn't reimburse them?
DR. BRIAN DAY: No.
AMT: But why not?
DR. BRIAN DAY: What's funny is if they come from another province they do get reimbursed.
AMT: OK. But again, we're looking at BC here. So BC doesn't reimburse them because BC says you should be waiting in line to do it at a public hospital.
DR. BRIAN DAY: Exactly. And what we're saying is that’s unfair, they should be able to use their disability insurance or their extended health insurance to fund it, but that's currently unlawful.
AMT: OK. So how many patients do you have now, roughly? How many people go through your clinic a year?
DR. BRIAN DAY: We treat about three or four thousand patients a year.
DR. BRIAN DAY: As I said, less than ten per cent of those would be in the category we're talking about here.
AMT: OK, so if you’re already treating three or four thousand patients who pay out of pocket, why are you fighting to get people paying out of pocket?
DR. BRIAN DAY: No, no, I said less than ten per cent of them, you're not listening to me.
AMT: OK, but OK, so but people can already pay out of pocket. So I'm trying to understand--
DR. BRIAN DAY: No they cannot. That's against the rules.
AMT: But you just told me they did.
DR. BRIAN DAY: They do, but we're in contr-- listen, they're in contravention of the BC law when they pay out of pocket for medically insured service.
AMT: So how come you're not being charged?
DR. BRIAN DAY: What do you mean how come we're not being charged?
AMT: Well, if they're in contravention of the law--
DR. BRIAN DAY: [interposing] That’s part of our case, is we've been in existence for 20 years and the government has knowingly not taken action against us, because the government has recognized and we hope it will be forthcoming after this lawsuit, that the government is in violation of the Constitution when it outlaws a citizen's right to extricate themselves from the pain and suffering of being on a waitlist.
AMT: OK, OK. So, it's happening, but I understand that's what I'm trying to understand. Why if you have a private clinic, you're fighting for a private clinic.
DR. BRIAN DAY: [chuckling] Yeah, it's exactly like laws that existed that outlawed homosexuality, outlawed same sex marriage, outlawed safe injection sites, outlawed assisted suicide. And when I was a kid it was illegal to commit suicide. And I mean, when I was a kid there was racial segregation in North America. These were all within the law, but those laws were all struck down after constitutional challenges or the judiciary made the changes.
AMT: OK, well let's bring someone else into the conversation. Colleen Flood is the Director of the University of Ottawa Centre for Health, Law, Policy and Ethics. She's in Ottawa. Hello.
COLLEEN FLOOD: Hi, how are you?
AMT: Well, I'm curious to know what you're thinking as you listen to this. Dr. Day says this constitutional fight is akin to the fight for gay rights in Canada.
COLLEEN FLOOD: I don't think so. Obviously, this is a very important constitutional case. We are seeing a challenge really to the heart of Medicare. I think what Dr. Day is not talking about is the challenge that he's bringing to extra billing. Extra billing is where a doctor can charge the government the fee that they would normally be paid. And in addition levying an additional charge on top, whatever they wish, to the patient. That's banned in the Canada Health Act, it's also banned in BC. And that's one of the laws that he is challenging. So he wishes to overturn extra billing.
DR. BRIAN DAY: That's not correct.
COLLEEN FLOOD: Well, that's in your pleadings.
DR. BRIAN DAY: No it isn't.
COLLEEN FLOOD: Last time I checked, it was.
DR. BRIAN DAY: Well, check again.
COLLEEN FLOOD: So, the only way that you'll be able to bill for additional services--
AMT: OK, hang on. Colleen Flood, let's hear her, because Dr. Day we heard you. Go ahead Colleen Flood.
COLLEEN FLOOD: The only way to bill for additional services at the private clinic at the Cambie clinic, will be to permit this kind of extra billing. So physicians at the Cambie clinic, as I understand it, have actually been billing the BC government for the services that they provide. And then there's an additional charge that is levied for those services, the other services that the clinic provides, and perhaps some top up for the physicians, we're not sure. But this is the nature of extra billing. If they're successful in overturning this law, this means that potentially every physician that's paid on a fee-for-service basis, which has most physicians in BC and in Canada, will be able to charge an extra amount on top of what they receive from the government. And I think that the possibility of that is a significant and grave threat to Medicare, to access as we know it.
AMT: Well, Colleen Flood, what about the argument that those who will go to private clinics will free up doctors in the public hospitals so that they will not have to wait and they will not have to pay more.
COLLEEN FLOOD: And I think that's a common thought. And you know, it's not a bad one to think well, if we take some patients from here and we put them over there then we will free up some resources. But that's not the way that the health markets work or how health systems work. Physicians that will be paid a higher amount in the private tier will understandably, I mean physicians are humans too, will understandably wish to probably see more of those patients and provide more services to those patients, because they will be being paid more. And we see plenty of examples of this around the world from two tier health care systems. So I hope that that evidence comes before the court. So, for example in Ireland a recent report showed that public patients are waiting up to 25 times longer for cancer treatment than private patients. So people are waiting in the public sector are waiting up to 25 times longer for cancer treatment.
AMT: Why? Why?
COLLEEN FLOOD: Well, if they were ahead, one example, a grave example, is the case of Susie Long in Ireland, she had a GI tumor. It was such a long delay before she was properly assessed.
AMT: But why?
COLLEEN FLOOD: She died.
AMT: Instead of giving me the name, tell me why. Why does that exist?
COLLEEN FLOOD: So the problem is that in Ireland at least, physicians are paid a lot more to work in the private sector. There is as Dr. Day is suggesting would make our system better, the ability for physicians to work both in the public and in the private sectors at the same time and Irish physicians have a strong incentive to spend most of their time working in the private sector and they do.
AMT: OK, Brian Day can you speak to that?
DR. BRIAN DAY: Yes, well first of all as specific that she just raised is ridiculous. But secondly, I have to--
AMT: Why is that ridiculous?
DR. BRIAN DAY: Well, because she's distorted the facts. Just invite any of your listeners to Google afterwards Susie Long and you'll find the truth. But listen, I've got to deal with this extra billing. This is a complete distortion of what we're arguing for. We're arguing for the right of a Canadian to obtain private insurance that will pay for everything without any extra billing of the government. And so I mean, Colleen Flood she’s well known as a very strong anti-private sector advocate. She was put forward as an expert in this particular constitutional challenge by the government and was withdrawn in my view, because it became clear once they looked at her reports that she was overly biased and she is completely distorting the truth. What we're saying is that in Canada, injured workers, prisoners, federal RCMP, Canadian armed forces all have these rights. If you go to another province you have the right to use private insurance in another province, or you have a right to go elsewhere. And we're saying that the citizens who live in their own province, when the government doesn't provide pharmacist health care, doesn't provide it, and then outlaws your rights to extricate yourself from the pain and suffering, that's not only illegal but it's immoral and unethical. And to come forward with a single anecdote from almost 10 years ago of Suzie Long is trying to distort the truth. We are looking for countries like Germany, like Holland--
AMT: Right, you said that. Let me interject. We're almost out of time here, Brian Day.
COLLEEN FLOOD: [giggling]
AMT: So Colleen Flood, the issue of insurance. So private insurance is available in every other province he just said if you want?
COLLEEN FLOOD: No, private insurance isn’t available in every other province--
AMT: OK, this was a case that, Colleen Flood, in Quebec the Supreme Court ruled in a case that said that private insurance could be used at times. Why is this still an issue?
COLLEEN FLOOD: Because what the case that's happening in BC is a much bigger claim than just around private insurance, as I said. Although Dr. Day says that isn't the case. The pleadings actually say that they're seeking to overturn the ban on extra billing. They're also seeking to overturn the limitation that says look doctors if you want to work for the public sector that's awesome. But you can only work for us when you're delivering Medicare. If you want to go private, go for it, knock yourself out. But you can't work for the public system as well. And they want to overturn that. So, to me this case is not really so much about rights for patients. The laws that are actually being attacked are really mostly to do with physicians. The only one that directly links to patients themselves is whether or not there is the right to buy private health insurance.
DR. BRIAN DAY: [trying to interrupt in background]
COLLEEN FLOOD: In Quebec, the law--
AMT: OK, you know what, we can’t have a conversation if you're going to both talk over each other. Brian Day, I'm going to give you, we're almost out of time so go ahead 20 seconds.
DR. BRIAN DAY: OK.
AMT: But then you have to let her talk. Go ahead.
DR. BRIAN DAY: OK. Colleen Flood is distorting the argument, because there are six plaintiff, patient plaintiffs in this case. Three of them were cancer patients, two of them had died. One of them is a young boy paralyzed for life after a 27 month wait to get into a children's hospital for spine surgery. And people like Flood are trying to distort the basis of this case--
AMT: OK, OK Brian Day. Let's keep it there. Colleen Flood, what about all the people who are on waitlists and he's arguing that this would this would help.
COLLEEN FLOOD: Absolutely, and--
AMT: You have 20 seconds as well.
COLLEEN FLOOD: It’s a big concern. Why doesn't Dr. Day work for the public system? Private clinics in other provinces work the public system, that's the way to go and that's the way to fix it.
AMT: Dr. Day?
DR. BRIAN DAY: Well, why don't you, why does every lawyer not work as a prosecutor or a public defender? This is, every one of our doctors--
COLLEEN FLOOD: See this is about the rights of doctors and not about the rights of patients.
DR. BRIAN DAY: Everyone. Well, this is why you were withdrawn as an expert in the--
COLLEEN FLOOD: I withdrew so I could have this debate with you Dr. Day, and it’s a great pleasure.
AMT: OK, you know what, we're going to end it there because it's getting a little personal. So, I'm still a bit confused, but I'm sorry we're going to have to leave it there. Brian Day, Medical Director of Cambie Surgery Centre. He joined us from Vancouver. Colleen Flood, Director of the University of Ottawa Centre for Healthcare Policy and Ethics. She is in Ottawa. BC’s Ministry of Health declined to speak to us, saying it will make its arguments in the court. However, it did send a statement. This is what the BC Ministry of Health sent us, and here I'm quoting, “British Columbia stands for a health care system where all patients are entitled to obtain health care based on their medical need not on their ability to pay. The province will vigorously defend the public healthcare system and the rights of all patients during this trial. They call it a trial, end quote. So, we do want you to weigh in on this. Is this a slippery slope for universal health care? Would it improve medical care for Canadians? Tell us what you heard as you listened to that. Find us on Facebook to weigh in, tweet us @TheCurrentCBC. Email us from our website cbc.ca/thecurrent. That's all the time we have for our program today. We did go live on Facebook this morning for our first half hour, so check out on Facebook through our webpage or CBC's webpage cbc.ca. And you can see what goes on behind the scenes. I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, thanks for listening to The Current.
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