Reframing the Senate

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to chose wisely.  The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”  – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I was just catching a snippet on the news regarding the newly appointed Senators.  Of course some are already up in arms over it but there are more knowledgeable individuals/groups out there on that subject than myself.  So I will sit back on the periphery and catch the snippets that may impact me.  After all a Senator does have a very high level of authority when it comes to affecting the direction of the nation.

On a micro level I was reminded of a meeting I participated in yesterday.  I had a very good discussion with two of the Patient Voices Network for Island Health staff.  We discussed many of the issues in healthcare including some of those I had raised in previous posts.  Now I have met both of these individuals once before but very briefly.  This was our first chance to really exchange thoughts on our healthcare system from a very grassroots level.

Grassroot advocacy is something I understand very well.  I have been part of that process from every level imaginable and a wide range of topic particularly health/disability.  I was involved in advocacy well before either of them were born (I’m guessing they are both 30+. hope I’m not embarrassing anyone) but there had to be a 30 year difference between us.  However as the discussion progressed all of the similarities started coming out.

I felt we had a very engaged and genuine conversation.  What I found particularly interesting was the level of advocacy that was actually being done without using the term.  For some reason that term threatens a lot of people.  In the 70’s I spend a few years as a provincial patient advocate for the Canadian Mental Health Association and for whatever reason any notice of my visit would throw the institute into panic mode.  I wasn’t a bad guy but the term advocate was getting a bum rap.  By the mid 90’s any mention of advocacy could cost community organizations grant money.  Silence was created by tightening the purse strings.  However many of the concepts we discussed were definitely of the advocacy nature.

In the meeting (I’m even hesitant to refer to it as a meeting since it was really a comfortable lets get to know each other discussion and our roles in healthcare) we discussed change and how it can appear to be so slow.  The truth is systemic change is a slow process.  As an example it took us well over ten years to really see how effective seat belt legislation was but at the time there was all kinds of outrage and screaming from segments of society.  That was almost thirty years ago.

Supposedly we have advanced our societal beliefs to be a more inclusive, compassionate and caring society, it only took us to get from what Susan Rodriguez was requesting to where we are today with Bill C-14.  Change can take time but as long as we are moving forward I can live with the rate of progress.  However when I look at the current election campaign happening south of the border it makes me realize that some have moved further than others at which point I weep for the days of Fred McMurray.  However I have little control over that outcome so it’s low on my list of priorities even though the outcome could have an affect on every Canadian.  

The connection between my meeting yesterday and the new appointment of all of these new independent Senators is a micro/macro scenario on belief systems.  The two people I met with yesterday are the future.  They and their generation will hold the keys to policy decisions that will impact my end of life care (and I’m not referencing C-14 but level of dignity available to seniors or those requiring structured care).

Doing It
There is nothing more challenging than doing what everyone else says you can’t as long as you can deal with the consequences!

This can also be said of the new process the Trudeau government have attempted with Senate appointments.  It is to early to know what kind of impact this will have in the immediate future but it is even harder to say what the long term effects will be.  Of the current crop of Senator’s prior to the appoints named this week the average age of a Senator was 65.58 years.  I do know I feel much better knowing the generation who will be taking over are helping to design the future of not only healthcare but our communities in general are those pushing the system and not those waiting to jump off the bus.

It’s sad that I have to put it this way but I also expect the new generation of policy makers to consult with their seniors.  I also expect those decision makers to be informed and educated on the ramifications of their decisions.  In other words no decisions based solely on ideology.  Take a day, do some fact checking and truly be the “house of sober second thought” the Senate is suppose to be.

After yesterdays meeting I am more comfortable with the new holders of the keys and I can only hope at a grassroots level that is true throughout Canada.  We can do whatever we set our mind to as long as we work together…so be part of change.  Don’t just rely on Facebook posts to get your information, if it’s important to you your computer is more than Facebook and vacation bookings machine.  Be informed, stay educated not indoctrinated…

Just one mans’ opinion…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s