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Conservative Canadian Senator Defends Single-Payer Health Care

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Conservative Canadian Senator Defends Single-Payer Health Care"

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Hugh Segal (official photo)

Hugh Segal (official photo)

Canadians who are interested in politics tend to be fairly well-informed about U.S. political debates, so I’ve sort of been waiting for the day when some right-wing Canadian politicians would step up and defend their fair land’s health care system from the smears of the American right. Now it seems that Conservative Party Senator Hugh Segal is doing just that.

Now as it happens the Canadian Senate is not a very important policymaking body. But irrespective of what lurks deep in the hearts of Canadian Tories, all leading right-of-center politicians in Canada understand that their health care system is far too popular and well-loved to seriously propose replacing it with an American-style system in which whether or not you receive treatment for an illness is determined by the whims of a for-profit insurance company. Indeed, the Conservative Party of Canada lists as one of its founding principles the idea “that all Canadians should have reasonable access to quality health care regardless of their ability to pay.”

All of which is to say that one fun way to shake up the somewhat stale health care debate would be to have a right-wing Canadian politician debate a right-wing American politician. On substance, what does this prove? Well, I think it’s noteworthy that where national health care systems exist, nobody ever seems to want to dismantle them. By contrast, you have lots of examples of countries lacking a national health care system and deciding to build one.

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