Wednesday, April 22, 2009

at least one canadian not afraid to shine

I recently put my townhouse on the market, hoping to take advantage of stable prices in Ottawa and dropping prices in Vancouver in order to get back into the West coast real estate game. My agents sent a team of advisors, snapping photos, debating wall colour and moving furniture, and subtly transformed the house. The shifting of couches, lamps and bookshelves was the single biggest improvement to the look and feel of my home. I had left pieces too close to walls, too hidden in corners – which is so typically Canadian.

Tucking into corners is what all three pillars of Canadian society habitually do.

Distracted by the precariousness of minority Parliaments, the federal government has failed to advance a forward-looking agenda for the country, risking irrelevance on the world stage and domestically. Canadian businesses also avoid the innovation and entrepreneurial approach it would take to develop global brands. And too many civil society organisations are hampered by both anti-advocacy legislation and lack of lobbying savvy to translate their public policy aspirations to legislative reality.

So when we come across a Canadian who not only demonstrates an ambitious agenda, but has also taken steps to secure the support base necessary to institute his agenda, props must be given.

Jeffrey Turnbull is one such Canadian.

Dr. Turnbull is the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association, poised to be confirmed into the position this July. Unlike Preston Manning – and the outgoing CMA president – Dr. Turnbull opposes two-tier healthcare. What’s more, he became the nominee following a campaign that emphasised the need to restructure Canada's health-care system to ensure equal access to poor, rural and aboriginal Canadians.
Dr. Turnbull’s views are based on experience: he was awarded the Order of Canada for his work with Ottawa's homeless and his achievements as a medical educator.
His views are also practical. In the age of globalisation, disease knows no borders; health crises in one country result in refugee crises for their neighbours and businesses rely on global supply chains to fuel economies in industrialised nations and poor. In this context, promoting good health, preventing illness, and building and supporting strong health systems are not luxury programs – they are essential strategies for national governments. 

The increasing interconnectedness of the global community means that wealthy nations must contribute towards health programs in high-burden countries and communities as an investment that will pay future dividends for overall. 

Here’s hoping Dr. Turnbull’s practical compassion sets an example for Canadians across the board.