Paging Dr. Day

In the Brian Day vs. Jack Burak fight for the presidency of the Canadian Medical Association, why is Day just described as an advocate for privatized health care, as it this were just a policy matter. Day operates a private clinic in Vancouver, one that was opened, perhaps ironically, during the tenure of the NDP as a way of fast-tracking workers’ compensation claims.

In addition to the typical doctor’s fees Day makes extraordinary profits from his private surgery clinic. And Day wants to expand his model to the rest of Canada. Ching ching. But he also wants to head the CMA. Does the fact that Day stands to make millions, if not tens of millions, from the expansion of private health care constitute a conflict of interest? If so, the BCMA and the CMA do not seem to care one iota. In fact the BCMA is providing $10,000 for Day’s campaign.

The Globe’s editorial on Friday led this way:

Brian Day is annoyed that Jack Burak has decided to challenge him for the presidency of the Canadian Medical Association, whose members vote next Tuesday in Charlottetown. Dr. Day beat Dr. Burak in a vote held by the British Columbia Medical Association, and it is B.C.’s turn to supply the national president. “He was in the same election as I was, and I won,” Dr. Day said. “This is not North Korea. We are not in Cuba. We’re in a democracy. He is being disrespectful to the electoral process.”

Dr. Day’s comment suggests a funny view of democracy. It also suggests a tendency to use a bullying sort of hyperbole. (Since when could anyone contest a presidency in North Korea or Cuba?) Besides all that, he is a leading advocate of private health care. In fact, he is currently the president of the Canadian Independent Medical Clinics Association, which supports private care on demand (paid for from the public purse). That sounds like a free-for-all that would bleed taxpayers and harm the public system.

Day also invokes North Korea and Cuba when talking about the Canadian health care system. Cuba actually has good health care, despite a challenging economic environment, so perhaps that is less hyperbolic than it would seem. But North Korea?

This article from Friday’s Globe misses the conflict of interest story, too. See also this post.

OK, enough about the hidden economics of Brian Day. Let me close with some humour. Someone attending a Victoria conference recently where Day was on a panel had this funny story to relate (via email) about the real Brian Day:

Danielle Martin, the physician who helped set up (and now heads) Canadian Doctors for Medicare … was on a panel with Day, Stanley Hartt and Ted Marmor, a respected professor of public policy at Harvard who was an expert witness (on the constitutionality of medicare) during the Chaoulli Charter challenge. Hartt is a former Chief of Staff to Mulroney and was expected to generally support Day.

Anyway, the panelists were lined up with Day as the first presenter, Danielle second, Ted third and Hartt last. When Day got up to begin his pre-packaged Power Point show (pics of him and the Beatles in Liverpool, pics of him and Fidel in Cuba, pics of him and babies at Cambie surgical, etc. etc.) he was reminded by the moderator that he and the others each had 15 minutes. Well, Day was taken aback. No, he said, that’s a mistake, I was told I had 20 minutes, not 15. And that was what he intended to do. But the moderator was very firm: 15 minutes – each. Day began insisting in his mean and nasty way.

As the clock was ticking away (tick tock), Day kept insisting that he had been told he’d have 15 minutes and that his Power Point presentation was geared to 20, not 15 minutes. He was getting more angry and more nasty. As he argued he’d been told 20 minutes he began pawing through his emails (on the screen) looking for the one that said 20 minutes. The moderator was growing more and more perplexed (when is this guy just going to present, let’s get on with it).

Meanwhile, there are 800 people in the audience watching incredulously as this whole thing unfold before their eyes, tick tock tick tock. They can’t believe what they’re witnessing. Day goes on and on and on about the incompetent organizers, the 20 minutes, the email. Finally he suggests that Danielle, Ted and Stanley go first so he can reorganize his presentation, but all declined. Danielle had prepared her presentation as a response to what she knew Day was going to present (she’s seen it before). Besides by this time Day only had 10 minutes left. Tick tock tick tock.

Day continues his aggressive and rude arguing.

The audience begins squirming in their seats. They are stunned, bend their heads and cover their eyes in embarrassment: “is this really happening?” Tick tock. Fifteen minutes go by and Day’s time is up and he seems to still be looking for his email. He’s furious, upbraiding the Canadian Healthcare Association. He didn’t presented anything (except his email).

So as she was next, Danielle was forced to summarize Day’s position so she would have something to respond to. Hartt, who seems to have got fed up, apparently told Day that he may be an excellent surgeon but his views on health care are off the wall.

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