A chronic disease

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Yes, this is another editorial scolding the government.

  But let’s be clear: this is not about a problem that’s exclusive to this government. It’s an age-old practice that’s been adopted by many politicians of many stripes.

That still doesn’t make it right.

Last month, Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons discovered the health-care fundraising radiothon in his district was lacking something two others shared in common. Specifically: government members showing up with money in hand.

As reported in The Gulf News, health foundations in Corner Brook, Stephenville and Port aux Basques hold simultaneous radiothons to raise money for hospital equipment each year. This year’s radiothons were held on Sept. 28.

In Corner Brook and Stephenville, government ministers and the local Tory MHAs went on air to pledge matching government funds worth thousands of dollars.

No such donations or offers to match donations were made for the third regional radiothon in Port aux Basques.

It just so happens that Burgeo-La Poile MHA Andrew Parsons — a Liberal — represents that district. Parsons even took a turn as radio host that afternoon. Afterwards, he wrote a letter to the premier, asking what was going on.

In the meantime, a spokeswoman with the Department of Health told The Gulf News no slight was intended.

The other two authorities received support because — wait for it — they had sent letters to the department requesting it.

This is wrong, on so many levels.

First, how is a health foundation supposed to know that the government will spontaneously donate to this or that fundraiser? And why, in this case, was it the one in a Liberal district that was out of the loop?

This does not pass the smell test.

Second, why is the government using health-care shortfalls as a means of propping up its local candidates? If a health authority needs government funding, the proper channel is the budget. This is old-school pavement politics — only worse, because it’s coming from a discretionary pot of money somewhere, rather than earmarked funds.

Yes, the government can and should contribute to charitable causes, but only in an open, fair and transparent way.

Playing political games with health-care funding is especially galling.

Andrew Parsons may have been happy just to get equal consideration. Instead, he should be arguing against the practice altogether.

Organizations: The Gulf News, Department of Health

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Stephenville, Port aux Basques Port aux Basques.It

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Recent comments

  • MBC
    October 12, 2012 - 10:46

    The fact that this unfair treatment of taxpayers by government was done in the past is no reason to not disagree with it being done by the current government. Only with taxpayers voicing their dislike for such unfair treatment of taxpayers dollars will it change.

  • wtf
    October 12, 2012 - 07:44

    Are we suppose to be naive? Have short memories? This practice has happened with all governments, Tory and Liberal. Everyone knows it wrong but we also know that if Parsons and his Liberals were in power that they would do it again. And when the NDP take power in the next election - wait for it - they'll do it too. It's beyond frustrating to see this kind of stuff happening over and over but we'd be foolish to believe that it will ever change.