Our final program meeting before the summer was a panel discussion on Canada with three HAGSA members as the panelists. They were Bill Potts, who lived in Montreal and Toronto after leaving England, but before coming to California, Wayne Luney, who was born in Victoria, British Columbia, moved with his family to California when he was twelve, and has frequently been back for visits, and Joy Fisher, an attorney who planned to leave for Canada to pursue graduate studies at the University of Victoria.
Joy had recently attended a conference, S.O.S. Medicare: Looking Forward, in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Much of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of Canada’s “single payer” government run health care system, about which Joy was particularly enthusiastic, especially after having attended a conference on health care that was held in Regina, Saskatchewan earlier this year. She mentioned that, in a recent national poll, Tommy Douglas, a founder of the predecessor to the New Democratic Party (NDP) and reform-minded premier of Saskatchewan of the 1940s, was voted the most admired Canadian. It was he and people like him who were the creators of Canada’s current health care system. It is a system that does have its critics, however. The long waits for surgery sometimes cause wealthy Canadians to come to the United States for their care.
Bill recounted his experiences in Montreal and Toronto, and noted the lack of church-state separation at that time (the late 1950s), particularly in Quebec where there was no civil marriage.
Wayne finally managed to get away from the health care issue to give a more general talk on the political and cultural history of Canada. He concentrated on Canada’s multi-party parliamentary system and the differences among the provinces.
As a footnote, we're sad to report Joy's move to Victoria, BC, in August. Obviously, we're happy for her.
Report prepared by Wayne Luney