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NEWS: Anne Lévesque on the right of citizens to disagree, health care

Anne Lévesque

Anne Lévesque

Council of Canadians Inverness County chapter activist and Board member Anne Lévesque writes in the Chronicle Herald today, “I attended the no-fracking rally in Port Hastings last Saturday afternoon. Sixty of us stood beside the rotary, stamping our feet to keep warm and holding hand-made signs that said ‘Water Not Oil’ and ‘No Drilling, No Spilling’. We smiled and waved our thanks at the passing motorists who honked their support. …The one thing we had in common was our opposition to the drilling of oil and gas near the largest freshwater lake in Nova Scotia. Few of the people in attendance would describe themselves as environmentalists. They are people who wish to have a say in the decisions shaping their world. They are concerned citizens who have taken the time to become informed about the issue. This is what democracy is supposed to be all about.”

She continues, “Yet when the media describe the people who attend such rallies, they dismiss them with one word: environmentalist. In case you haven’t noticed, the word ‘environmentalist’ is no longer neutral. Thanks to politicians like Stephen Harper, the corporate interests they represent and their huge public relations machine, the E-word has come to mean ‘person who does not care about jobs or the economy’ or, as Stephen Harper has recently asserted, ‘radical who wishes to turn all of Canada into a national park for the U.S.’ So, if the media wish to remain, or at least to appear, impartial, they must refrain from using such pat designations as activist, protester and environmentalist. Otherwise, they are dismissing one of the foundations of our parliamentary democracy: the right of citizens to disagree.”

And just yesterday in the Inverness Oran., Lévesque wrote, “The article about wait times for health care caught my eye in last week’s Oran. It was based on a recent ‘consumer’ report by an organization named the Frontier Centre. A few minutes of research about this organization confirmed my suspicions. The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is a right-wing Western Canada think tank, the equivalent of the Atlantic Institute for Market Research (AIMS). These corporate-funded organizations are usually the first to disparage our public services.”

She notes, “Canada is facing an important next step in our Medicare history. In 2014, the current health care accord – the deal that sets funding and health care service delivery agreements between the federal and provincial and territorial governments – expires and must be renegotiated. In the lead-up to these negotiations, we need to remind our federal politicians that Canadians should have access to the same services and quality of care provided by a national, public system. We must be wary of the pronouncements of groups like the Frontier Centre who represent corporate interests. Health care should be based on need, not the ability to pay.”

Lévesque’s letter to the editor on the use of the word ‘environmentalist’ can be read in full at http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/54250-don-t-use-e-word-when-describing-concerned-citizens. The Inverness Oran. website is http://oran.ca/stories.asp?browse=ALL.