The New Democrat's secret weapon: alcohol

Much ado has been made out of the new spirit of cooperation that's supposed to exist between the provincial New Democrats and the Liberals. But it seems Emily Post's Rules of Political Conduct don't extend outside the house. In an email sent to Elk Valley and South Country Health Care Coalition vice-president Keith Coates, Minister of State for Mining Bill Bennett writes "I know full well the NDP will politicize healthcare just as they will bring drunks to the polling booths on election day because return to power supercedes all else for the NDP." This, in response to a question from Mr. Coates asking why the Interior Health Authority has "suffered by far the greatest net overall loss of (residential) beds" according to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. In fairness, though, it's important to note Minister Bennett also states "I will get info on the report done by CCPA but I will forwarn you that I know your political affiliations and I am well aware of your true motivations in this matter. That will not stop me from working to satisfy your requests...My job is to work for my constituents and I will to do that." For the record, Mr. Coates says he's no longer a New Democrat member. The following is a complete copy of their email exchange.

----- Original Message -----
From: Keith Coates
To: Bill Bennett
Cc: George Abbott; David Cubberley; Free Press Editorial; Daily Townsman Publisher
Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2006 4:19 PM
Subject: IHA bed closures

Dear Mr Bennett

The Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) in its publication BC Issues #2, Cuts to Residentail and Home Help Care in BC, dated April, 2005, gives the following statistics on residential bed closures and assissted living beds additions for the five Health Authorities:

Health Authority

Northern
94 (Residential Beds Closed)
117 (Assisted Living Beds Added)
27 Net change

Vancouver Island
495 (Residential Beds Closed)
403 (Assisted Living Beds Added)
-92 Net change

Vancouver Coastal
503 (Residential Beds Closed)
135 (Assisted Living Beds Added)
-368 Net change

Fraser
502 (Residential Beds Closed)
191 (Assisted Living Beds Added)
-311 Net change

Interior
935 (Residential Beds Closed)
219 (Assisted Living Beds Added)
-716 Net change

As these figures show, IHA suffered by far the greatest net overall loss of beds. We would like to know why.

In addition, there have been province wide reductions in the number of beds available per 1000 seniors 75 and over:

Health Authority

Percentage decline in beds per 1000 seniors

Northern
-11%

Vancouver Island
-8%

Vancouver Coastal
-13%

Fraser
-14%

Interior
-25%

Again, IHA suffered the highest level of decline in beds available.

As citizens of the IHA region, we would like to know why IHA has been so heavily impacted in these areas, and what do you, as our MLA, plan to do to restore equality of access to these services.

Yours truly

Keith S. Coates
Vice President
Elk Valley and South Country Health Care Coalition

***

----- Original Message -----
From: Bill Bennett
To: Keith Coates
Cc: Bob Keating; Dale Steeves
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 9:23 AM
Subject: Your email

I am out of BC at the moment and have no access to a computer (except this blackberry). I am in my constit office on Monday. In the meantime I will see what the IHA can provide for info.

My preliminary comments would be as follows:

* CCPA is funded by the NDP and has little credibility because of its proven political bias.
* counting beds is not as good a measurement as patient satisfaction and patient outcomes. Care for seniors needed to change to meet their needs of today. Comparisons with the past will not get us very far.
* wait times for residential care in our area have dropped from over a year to less than 90 days - this surely means there is more access, not less.
* the Conference Bd of Canada states BC has the best healthcare system in Canada - do you dispute this?
* Rocky Mtn Village is a state of the art facility - Fernie actually offers much more to seniors today than before the IHA - do you dispute this?

I will get info on the report done by CCPA but I will forwarn you that I know your political affiliations and I am well aware of your true motivations in this matter. That will not stop me from working to satisfy your requests but let there be no mistake. I know full well the NDP will politicize healthcare just as they will bring drunks to the polling booths on election day because return to power supercedes all else for the NDP. My job is to work for my constituents and I will to do that.

Bill Bennett
--------------------------
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

----- Original Message -----
From: Keith Coates
To: Bill Bennett
Cc: Daily Townsman Publisher; George Abbott; David Cubberley; Erda Walsh; Brent Bush; Len Kosiec; Barbara McFarlin-Kosiec; Cliff Boldt; BC Health Coalition; Jhim Burwell; Free Press Editorial; Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 11:27 AM
Subject: Re: Your email

Mr. Bennett:

I am honestly somewhat appalled at your response. For your information, not that it matters or is any business of yours, I hold membership in no political party, neither provincial nor federal, so your assertion as to my motivation is not only inaccurate but almost libellous. However, let that pass.

I am very surprised at your contention that the NDP brings drunks to the polling station - I assume you have proof of this? If not, it is almost libellous.

I am also surprised at your comments about the CCPA - which is a respected source of information - do you have proof of the bias you accuse it of? However, let those pass also.

My question was based on the evidence I found - and was very specific - why does IHA seem to have been more impacted by bed closures than any other Heatlh Authority? You did not answer this - perhaps on reflection you could do this rather than shoot the messenger.

Keith S. Coates
Vice President
Elk Valley and South Country Health Care Coalition

----- Original Message -----
From: Bill Bennett
To: Keith Coates
Cc: Bob Keating; Dale Steeves
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 12:30 PM
Subject: Re: Your email

Yes I have evidence that the NDP brought people to the Fernie polling centre who (for various reasons) did not understand what they were doing. Yes, I have evidence that the CCPA accepted at least four hundred thousand dollars from the NDP.

I told you I would get back to you and I will about this so-called study. I note you do not take issue with any of my statements about healthcare. Can I assume that is because you agree with what I said in my preliminary comments?

Bill Bennett
--------------------------
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

----- Original Message -----
From: Keith Coates
To: Bill Bennett
Cc: Daily Townsman Publisher; George Abbott; David Cubberley; Erda Walsh; Brent Bush; Len Kosiec; Barbara McFarlin-Kosiec; Cliff Boldt; BC Health Coalition; Jhim Burwell; Free Press Editorial; Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 12:56 PM
Subject: Re: Your email

Mr. Bennett, I asked you one direct question regarding bed closures - which you have still not answered. The other issues you raised are ones I will certainly review - as I am always open information and do not, oddly enough, have a closed mind. Also, accepting financial support does not in and of itself ensure bias - but I guess on this I am wasting my time.

A bientot.

28 Comments

ok so there has been a decline in beds in the IHA but what has the population done there. Were there more beds than needed in the firstplace?

Come on more context please.

Hey. It's Dagmar.

Drunks to the polling booth? The Liberals should talk there. And you know, at least NDP supporters don't bite people's ears off in the middle of a fight. That's dirty pool and only Socreds do that. I'll bet that young Socred who bit my ear off votes Liberal now!


The CCPA is a respected source of information? Damn this guy is funny

Seeing as Gordon Campbell acknowleged a few years ago that he had a drinking problem, wouldn't that imply bennet and the BC Liberals nominated a drunk as their leader?

"Come on more context please. "

The population of older seniors is forecast to increase by 16%over the next five years, the largest percentage increase among all age groups. Considering IHA includes the Okanagan, after Victoria, it has one of the biggest seniors populations in BC.
Kelowna General has its beds full of seniors waiting for long term care beds, hence causing doctors treating ER patients in the parking lot...see this week's headlines.

When I first read his email, I thought bennet was the drunk...

As George Abbott likes to say, the CCPA is "hopelessly and reflexively sychophantic in relation to the NDP," and you can't trust their bed numbers either. Mike Sather came out in the last election with their figure that 40% of the acute care beds had been closed in Ridge Meadows Hospital. This during a time when the population there was rising as fast as anywhere in the province. You can imagine what would have resulted had that really been the case.

Hmmm, me thinks Keith doth protest too much. A quick Google search brought forth the following. I guess Keith doesn't need to be a card carrying member to work for the NDP.

EAST KOOTENAY NDP CONSTITUIENCY ASSOCIATION
Dear Member:
As you know the Province will go to the polls in May 2004 to elect a new government for British Columbia. In preparation for the election, the EKNDP is undertaking two activities: a candidate search and membership drive.
One purpose of this letter is to invite you, as a member in good standing, to consider running for the candidacy, nominating some other member you believe has the potential to both win the constituency and be a good representative for us in Victoria. A nominating convention will be held in January, the date to be 90 days after the end of the membership drive. Only members in good standing at the end of the drive will be eligible to vote. If you would like more information on the nomination process, or would like a Provincial Candidate Nomination Package, please contact Len Kosiec at 250 423 6091, 250 423 6041{fax} or email lkosiec@monarch.net.
The second purpose of the letter is to inform you of the membership drive. Two members from the Provincial Office will spearhead the drive for two weeks. The date for the drive has not yet been set. However, we need local members to volunteer to man phones and pick up applications. More information will be coming in the form of a newsletter.
A sign of a healthy party is the level of interest in nominating members for candidacy and volunteering to help in the membership drive.
Yours truly,
Jimmy Vallance/ Keith Coates
Candidacy Search Committee.

i have a drinking problem,every time i,m around new demo0crats , i drink,, profusely,,
my new books caled,[ is there a turn at every corner.]
so if your in the neighbourhood, drop by,,
look for ...
nic

Hey, good one Popinoff.

The 'other' Bill Bennett should have clarified that one doesn't have to be drunk to vote NDP, but I imagine it helps.

Sounds like Bill Bennett may be the one with the problem.

So why is it, that when an NDP leadership candidate tells an obnoxious heckler to sit down and shut up, his comments are plastered all over the news. But when a BC cabinet minister accuses a political party of inducing people to vote with alcohol, and berates a constituent for his political leanings, nary a word is heard in the provincial news media?

Oh yeah, I forgot... CanWest/Global has a near monopoly on print and electronic news media in this province, and they gave tens of thousands of dollars to the BC Liberals in the last election.

Double standard? Hardly. It's just the price of political commerce. Just ask David Emerson.

Heckle all you want about alcohol and voting NDP.

The seriousness of all of this is that to make such an accusation as a Minister is atrocious, and especially hypocritical when you consider who leads this Government.

I don't care if nic and other ignoramous' on this list say juvenile things like "you have to be drunk to vote for the NDP" or other such stupid things. They are idiots on a blogosphere.

The problem is having one of our Ministers do the same.

I have been trying to do my part to take the Liberal party of BC back to a true Liberal party, but I'll tell you, it is very difficult with the mentality we have in place now.

the joke is on us, right now, as Liberals.

I can understand why people want to switch. We have three years to clean up our act.

It's beginning to look like today's Bill Bennett has no more class than the first one did. The accusation that it's the NDP that rounds up drunks to vote, coming from the Liberal Party, has a kind of pottle/kettle/black quality that's hard to top.

John Savoury writes:

"Mike Sather came out in the last election with their figure that 40% of the acute care beds had been closed in Ridge Meadows Hospital. This during a time when the population there was rising as fast as anywhere in the province. You can imagine what would have resulted had that really been the case."

I recall Sather's figures being quarreled over in the local MR News, a David Black paper that was then run by Tom Fletcher, a rabid anti-NDP hack. Fraser Health bureaucrats mumbled this and that to the effect that the comparisons were not quite accurate, etc, etc, ... but as usual had little of substance to offer. They are now furious with Sather for making an issue of the revolting "rethermed food" scam, which is plainly a issue of intentional patient abuse, foisted upon us by a Liberal Govt that has no other purpose than to create lucrative contracting opportunities for Liberal friendly companies, in this case located in Toronto. Now that Fletcher is gone, the MR News has run stories pointing out that in the provincial jail in Maple Ridge the inmates get freshly prepared dinners, while seniors and other patients get the rethermed filth from the Liberal contractor in Toronto.

As I said before, when I read that phrase "hopelessly and reflexively sychophantic", for some reason a picture of George Abbott does come to mind. After all, it's hard to find people who are as slavishly devoted to in house party caricatures as George Abbott, a small time lecturer who fancies himself an intellectual.

Hey,That is really big of Bill Bennett to look into this for someone he thinks is an NDP hack.A Fiberal martyr, imagine that. A do right kind of guy.Too bad he did not do just a little bit more before the senior's situation in the Kootenays became what any one can figure out, no matter how much bill disputes the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.Than maybe he could have been a real do right kind of guy.This is not just about politics and the NDP climbing all over the situation.However he, Bill Bennett reveals who the partisan hacks really are.

Bill Bennett is just another sad example of how shallow the Libs talent pool really is. He's a disgrace.

An interesting read. I did not realize an MLA existed that would actually say something that was not politically correct. Funny that this Coates guy, who claims to have no ties to the NDP is revealed to have tried to recruit NDP candidates in the last election. Why do dippers always try to hide in shadow organizations and pretend they are not dippers? Interesting that Coates also has the CCPA and the BC Health Coalition on his CC list, not that those organizations have anything to do with the NDP either. What a joke this guy is.

Pot, kettle Mr. Larsen.

No one doubts that the NDP, the CLC, and the CCPA are more or less on the same page politically. Just as some of the business lobby groups, like the Business Council and the Retail Council are on the same part of the spectrum as the BC Liberals.

The worrisome part is when supposed professionals, the adminitrators in the Health Authorities, feel it's incumbent upon them to be advocates for the ruling Liberals. That's a very prevalent attitude in the Fraser Health Region, where MLA Mike Sather has been harangued mercilessly by well paid senior staffers for the offence of coming onto public property (our hospitals) without an official invitation from the management group. The Fraser Health Authority is riddled with episodes of additional layers of managerial bureaucracy being added on for no apparent reason other than a kind of job creation program for Yuppies, and conscientious and rational managers being fired without cause to make way for the Liberal flotsam and jetsam.

This is the kind of system that men like Kevin Larsen are knowingly and wilfully promoting, a system where our BC Liberals are deliberately turning the health system on its ear, following the same political "principles" as the National Liberal Party did with the Sponsorship Scandal. And again, the most alarming aspect of all is the apparent willingness of many supposedly neutral bureaucrats to go along more or less whole-heartedly with the Liberal's extreme partisan demands.

Budd, you never cease to amaze me. My point, an observation really, was simply to question the common practice of dippers, who always try to hide in shadow organizations and pretend they are not dippers.

How this somehow makes me part of some vast conspiracy that knowingly promotes the destruction of our Health Care system is beyond me. Generally I find it is the HEU and BCNU who typically attack the Health Care system most often. I have yet to suggest that the Health Care system is intentionally killing people off as the BCNU leadership suggested a few weeks ago.

I actually find it ironic that those who most vehemently oppose changes in our health care system; the NDP, The HEU and BCNU are the very same people who spend the most time attacking the system. These constant attacks are what is creating and fueling the fire of the public that is open to and looking for serious changes as the current system is repeatedly demonstrated as not working, demonstrations courtesy of our friends in the NDP, HEU and BCNU.

I am one of those people who actually thinks we have a pretty damned good health care system. We simply spend too much time on the negative and ignore the positive. Unless of course you really believe that everything is negative and the entire system is a waste of money. I do not. When the day comes that we get our so called better system, we will realize that the old one that we had was not that bad after all.

Here's our pal Kevin Larsen, trying to divert attention, again, by bringing up those big bad unions.

Dude, the issue at hand ain't the health care system, but rather the prevailing attitude in the Liberal camp. Boy Billy Bennett uses the standard response to any negatives: if you don't like what you're hearing, claim it's biased or partisan or other such nonsense. Kevin Falcon does the same with BC Ferries, claiming a protest on the Legislature lawn was just a bunch of New Democrats. Never mind that the same bunch of ferry protesters were on the lawn when the NDP government of the day tried to jack rates up in the 1990s.

Of course Boy Billy goes one step further -- the last resort of the witless: ad hominem attacks. Coming from a back-bencher like Kevin Krueger, I could understand, but coming from a minister of the crown, well, that's just not acceptable. Earn your salary, Boy Billy.

Of course, seeing Bob Keating's name in the cc: line of the email clarifies things a bit. Boy Billy's opponents better check any box of chocolates they get for "special surprises." (Search this site for bitter Bob's name if you want more information on this star.)

To Mr. Larsen; FYI, I was a member of the NDP but resigned membership some time ago. At the moment, I hold no political party membership, and am unlikely to ever do so again. My one-time political affiliation has nothing to do with the request for information, which was posted in my capacity as an executive member of our local Health Care Coalition, which is non-partisan.

Jonesy, I never said the Unions were big or bad. You did. I merely commented on the fact that it is the BCNU and the HEU that most often attack the Health Care system and undermine public confidence in the process. At the same time, they profoundly resist any changes to the current system. Maybe in your world it might make sense to constantly complain and attack something and still resist any reformative efforts that might actually fix that which is apparently broken. I simply take a different point of view.

My question to Mr. Coates, why is it, if you are truly non partisan you forward your emails on to partisan organizations like the BC Health Coalition? Why have you not included your local Health Authority, the Interior Health Authority instead?

Mr. Coates.

Non Partisan you say ? Nice try Mr. Coates. I paid a visit to your Elk Valley and South Country Health Care Coalition website and found references like...


It was decided that we had to inform the people of the Elk Valley the secret agenda of the Liberals and IHA

And...

We wish everyone to remember the mean spirited arrogant government that has brought about the degradation of our health care system.

Not to mention links to every public sector Union, anti-government propaganda websites, and of course the NDP. Non Partisan my ass. It looks like Bennett had you correctly pegged from the get go. I stand by my previous comment on the common practice of dippers, who always try to hide in shadow organizations and pretend they are not dippers. In fact you are a disturbing example of that practice.

So sayeth Kevin Larsen:
I never said the Unions were big or bad. You did. I merely commented on the fact that it is the BCNU and the HEU that most often attack the Health Care system and undermine public confidence in the process.

Oho! Such clever use of rhetoric! Well played, old top. You must be Kevin Krueger's speechwriter. And apparently fit for the 2001 election, when a potted plant with good hair (not necessarily, though) could have won as long as they were flying the Liberal flag. Fast forward to today and we start to see those MLAs whose true potted-plantness shines through. Funny how having an opposition in place exposes those full of rhetoric and empty on substance (see Larsen, Kevin).

And again, our dear Liberal switches to the next play in the playbook: attack the attackee. Ooh. Coates you partisan, you! How dare you have political leanings that aren't "right!" Well played again.

But let's head on back to the original subject of Holman's post: the fact that a crown minister stoops to throw out ad hominem attacks on constituents who just happen to see things through a different prism. Is that good governing, Kev? Or merely a sign that the Liberal arsenal is merely a pop gun without a lot of pop?

Hey Coates,

If you think the CCPA is not connected to the NDP, you must be drunk yourself!

Keith Coates writes:

"My one-time political affiliation has nothing to do with the request for information,"

Your "one-time political affiliation?" That's hilarious, Keith! You were appointed to the NDP Local Health Board in 1994, and were recruiting for them in the last freakin election! What the hell are you smoking to think that's a one-time affiliation. That's at least the last decade! Everyone knows it takes a real NDP hack to be appointed to thier boards, let alone recruit mla's for them. You're a joke buddy, and I'm glad someone sees you for what you are...a hack!

"I'm not an NDPer, I just copy the media, the NDP, the local NDP candidate, the BC Health Coalition, and the CCPA on my emails to my MLA"

"oh yeah, and I only recruit candidates for the NDP because it's a hobby...I'm not working on their behalf!"

...so funny holman : )

this coates worked for the ndp party, was appointed to a health board by the ndp but insists he's not an ndp member! give it up. what's the next issue holman? i'm bored.

"Budd, you never cease to amaze me. My point, an observation really, was simply to question the common practice of dippers, who always try to hide in shadow organizations and pretend they are not dippers."

Kevin Larsen know's damn well that the use of front groups is far more prevalent on the political right and among business groups than on the left and with labour. The reason is simple. The wealthy special interest groups have infinitely more resources to spend on this kind of activity than do member-supported organizations such as labour unions.

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