I have no words to describe the utter feeling of shame that I felt for the Alberta government as I attended the health care rally in front of the legislature building on Saturday afternoon.
As a Canadian, I have always considered and took for granted that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are basic rights for all individuals in this great land of ours. Now I feel that I am wrong. Whether it was a coincidence or not, it appears that some individual or organization, (apparently the provincial government) saw fit to install steel fenced barriers (for maintenance purposes?). in front of the legislature just three days prior to the health care rally. This fence prevented an assembly of people from expressing their opinions as a cohesive group against the proposed changes to our health care system. Not that the barrier wasn’t enough, the design of this fence effectively impeded the route around the barrier, making it very difficult for our elderly to get to the assembly area. Scheduled maintenance in a timely fashion?
The old adage that “if it looks like a rose and smells like a rose, it probably is a rose” appears to best describe this situation. However the “rose” in this case appears to be more of a thorn that smells nice but “hurts greatly.” Was the timing a coincidence? Was it deliberate? Will it be denied? Of course it probably will be denied, just as our right to a “not for profit” health care system is denied.
It appears that, in this case, a curtailment of civil liberties was being directed at the frail and the elderly of this province, those with no effective way, little opportunity, nor the power to help shape the health care system that is desperately needed in Alberta. Our health care system is one issue, but the methods that our government appears to be using and their accountability in effecting the new health care system has far greater implications. Does anyone else really care?
Peter Barr, St. Albert