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The Great Anti-Canadian-Healthcare Fraudster Joins The Great American Healthcare Debate

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Message Mike Cowie

This piece originally appeared on the MikesAndDislikes site here and on the website of local Vancouver paper The Georgia Straight here.

You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning

- Bob Dylan, "Positively 4th Street"

By now you've all probably heard of Shona Holmes, the Canadian woman featured in those TV ads that have been running all over American TV in recent weeks, the ones slamming Canada's healthcare system as some sort of nightmarish system from hell.

Well, the truth is now out and the fact is Shona Holmes never actually had a life-threatening brain tumor, as she's been claiming in those ads and all the interviews she's been giving. Instead, according to the Mayo Clinic where she was treated, her "brain tumor" was actually a Rathke's Cleft Cyst on her pituitary gland and "Rathke's Cleft Cysts are not true tumors or neoplasms; instead they are benign cysts."

The real story, it seems, is that she was on a waiting list for treatment here in Canada for her non-life-threatening benign cyst, but didn't want to wait and therefore went to the States and paid for her own treatment instead. Quite a different story from the one presented in those ads: a story about how the Canadian system was going to just let her die because it's such a flawed, awful, dangerous system.

All this is from a great article by Julie Mason that appeared in The Ottawa Citizen.

A Right-Wing Ad Campaign

Watch the ad here and listen as Holmes states that "I survived a brain tumor, but if I relied on my government for healthcare I'd be dead". This is simply not true. And Holmes, it should be noted, is not just some naive flake being used by a right-wing group to help spread their anti-healthcare reform message, she's actually an activist herself, one who has been all over the American media airwaves giving interviews and spreading lies, half-truths and slander about Canada's healthcare system.

Now there's no doubt that the wait times in this country can be unacceptable (and, since her cyst was starting to cause vision problems, Holmes definitely should not have had to wait months to see a specialist), but if someone wants to criticize our system they should do it without lying. The simple truth is that if a person has a life-threatening tumor in Canada they will be treated and not, as Holmes states, left to die.

A Fraud

Shona Holmes, it seems, is a fraud! And why she'd want to see nearly 50 million Americans left completely uninsured simply because she was unhappy with her treatment in Canada is beyond me.

Tellingly, if you listen to her talk she doesn't really seem to have much, or any, concern for the uninsured. Being wealthy enough to travel down to the Mayo Clinic for $97,000 private treatment, she seems to only be concerned with people like herself, those with money. The uninsured 50 million be damned.

Obama's Plan

Holmes' stated aim in appearing in these ads and interviews is to persuade Americans to stick with their current system and reject Obama's plan to cover everyone (a mighty flawed, non-single-payer system, I might add, but at least a noble attempt to finally cover everyone with some form of insurance).

This current system that Holmes so passionately wants America to retain is of course the very same horrifically unjust one - the only one in the industrialized world that doesn't cover all of its citizens - that the majority of Americans have wanted replaced for years.

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Mike Cowie is a 42-year-old freelance writer, who lives together with his wife and son just outside of Vancouver, B.C. After spending 15 years living, travelling and working overseas Mike returned to live in Canada back in 2004. His final trip, (more...)
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