In last week’s Coast poll, we asked our readers “What major issue do you most want to see our politicians address in 2023?” Overwhelmingly—with 43% of all votes cast—you responded that health care was the most pressing concern, above the housing crisis (39%), climate action (13%) or food security (5%). And this was before we learned of the decades of governmental neglect that killed Allison Leah Holthoff. But it’s no surprise that health care’s weighing on the minds of our readers, because even my normal friends are starting to panic.
Normal friends, for journalists like me, are people who have some level of ignorance of the danger they are in. Some may be blissfully unaware that climate change is on track to kill a lot of people, or that climate change has already started a mass extinction event that could lead to the end of humanity. Or if they understand the issues facing humanity, they assume the politicians we have elected are adequately managing the major issues even though the politicians we elect are not.
Normal friends, for veterans like me, are people who don’t understand the danger of probability. Most people, after hearing decades of subtle Canadian propaganda, assume our health care system is the best, or at least much better than the United States. So even a nearly endless stream of alarming headlines—like ambulance shortages or hospitals being overcapacity or doctor shortages—leads to the default assumption that even if things aren’t exactly good right now, they’re not mortal danger bad. But all of those bad headlines are actually indications that the probability of death in our health care system is very high. It indicates people will start dying from preventable deaths in our health care system.
Sorry, my mistake, those are indications that young people will die preventable deaths. The elderly are already dying of preventable deaths, but we don’t care about them.
We need politicians to do the right thing, even if it means losing an election. We need politicians who care more about us than they care about their polling numbers.
My normal friends are starting to panic because Allison Leah Holthoff has made them realize that all of the marvels of modern medicine in Nova Scotia have been undermined and negated by our politicians.
It is making my normal friends angry.
It’s a justified anger, even if it’s one most people don’t have the civics language to explain. But the short version of it is this: We are all taught that Canada is a country and we, Canadians, are all in this together. We are taught that we all exist in this country, and contribute to this country with our blood, sweat, tears and money. We have decided that we should elect a group of our peers to look out for us against the powerful bad actors that exist in this world. A bunch of our smartest people hashed it out, and came up with the term “Good Governance,” which means our governments should always be looking out for our best interests.
But. They. Are. Not.
They are breaking the deal of governance. And that makes people angry because it feels unfair. And it *feels* unfair because it *is* unfair.
The deal is we work hard and pay our taxes, and in exchange, our politicians take our money and spend it on us. To look out for us. But they are not doing that. Every major problem, from health care to climate change to housing, requires substantive action by politicians. It requires big ideas, big discussions and big decisions. We need politicians to do the right thing, even if it means losing an election. We need politicians who care more about us than they care about their polling numbers.
It means we are in danger.
We’re working harder and harder; we’re paying more and more, just to survive. Allison Leah Holthoff has taught us that survival is no longer guaranteed. And somewhere, in the deep recesses of our minds, we realize we have no good way to fight back.
That’s why my normal friends are starting to panic.