Earlier, we reported Gordon Campbell's brother-in-law Les Vertesi will be joining the premier when he tours Europe next week to "explore new approaches to improve" British Columbia's public healthcare system. But Dr. Vertesi will likely make a poor travelling companion for the Liberal leader - in part, because of a controversial book he self-published in 2003 entitled Broken Promises. In that book, the former Royal Columbian Hospital medical director and emergency department head repeatedly compares our healthcare system to communism or, more specifically, the Berlin Wall. An example: "With no ability to adjust money to workload, reward productivity, or provide financial feedback to managers, we have brought the most destructive aspects of Lenin's experiment home to bed with us."
Dr. Vertesi also writes the Medicare Act was "more than an attempt to ensure everyone had adequate treatment: it was a social statement that all people are the same, and no human being should be able to feel more privileged than anyone else." As a result, "Canadians are being held to an ideology that has little to do with their actual health, and more to do with the social-political theories of their masters...Just as control over the media and over public thought was important in East Berlin, so it is in Canada. Any semblance of private health care is aggressively attacked in a posture of self-righteousness, but the real reason is to make sure Canadians stay unaware of what they are missing."
Those quotes are included in online excerpts from the book. According to a February 2004 article, The Province's Don Harrison also paraphrased Dr. Vertesi as saying "the wealthy should be able to buy faster health care." And, a year earlier, the doctor gave testimony before the standing senate committee on social affairs, science and technology, in which he supported the notion of a parallel private healthcare system. The reason: because it would increase access to medical services and "provide us with a reality check, so our public health system knows when we are out of touch with what people really want, what the quality should be and what the cost should be." Although he also said "I would like to see a dominant public system that provides for the majority, 90 per cent, for example, of the health care needs of our country."
But that support for a parallel private system could explain why Dr. Vertesi has been a "sought-after speaker by groups who favour privatization of health care, such as the right-wing Fraser Institute, the Canadian Independent Medical Clinics Association, the Vancouver Board of Trade and even the Vancouver Libertarian Supper Club" - as was reported by our comrade-in-ink Bill Tieleman in yesterday's edition of 24 hours. In his column, Mr. Tieleman opined the Campbell administration's past decision to appoint Dr. Vertesi as British Columbia's representative on the Health Council of Canada could be an indication the premier plans on radically privatizing healthcare in this province.