MP Report by Jay Hill

Get Ready. Though nothing in politics is certain, it’s widely expected that the 2004 federal election campaign will kick off within the next week or so … and I’m eager to get started.

The new Conservative Party of Canada is heading into Election 2004 with a strong, unified voice and a full slate of fresh ideas to present to Canadians as a viable electoral alternative to the governing Liberals.

We’re campaigning on those ideas and upon the need for real change. The federal government was been on hold for well over a year while Jean Chr├ętien set the stage for his retirement legacy and as Paul Martin has merely tread water hoping to ride out the wave of scandals that has rocked the Liberals.

There’s not enough room in this space to list everything you can expect from the Conservatives in the weeks to come, but I’d like to start with an issue that the Liberals were hoping to call their own by portraying it as a Conservative weakness: healthcare.

The truth of the matter is that the Liberals’ fundamental healthcare strategy has been to demonize Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party’s healthcare policies. Trouble is, the Liberals forgot to come up with a healthcare policy of their own. Their “policy” depends upon whom you ask and on what day.

The Health Minister, Pierre Pettigrew, told Canadians he supported a greater role for private companies in public healthcare. The next day, the Prime Minister said he did not. A week after that, it was revealed that Paul Martin himself receives medical treatment at a private clinic run by his personal physician and enjoys the benefits of private health insurance as a retired CSL executive.

As I told the House of Commons on April 28th, “rural northern communities in Canada continue to endure what has become a day-to-day struggle to access essential health care services. The waiting lists continue to grow and access to specialized care is difficult, bordering on the impossible.”

The Conservative Party is committed to the Health Accord signed by the provinces last year, but left unimplemented by the Liberals. We believe that there is a critical need for additional investment in health care, something that’s reflected in our fiscal plan but was not in the recent federal budget. And this week, Stephen Harper delivered a detailed policy speech on healthcare that included a proposal for a national drug care plan.

Though the provinces already offer varying drug coverage for seniors and welfare recipients, the Conservative pharmaceutical plan would have the federal government covering the costs of “catastrophic” medication costs. The plan is based upon the Conservative Party principle that no Canadian be denied necessary medical treatment, including medications, because of inability to pay.

This is just one of the ideas and issues I’ll be talking with you about as I travel throughout the riding in the next several weeks. If you want to learn more, go to Hope to see you on the campaign trail!