Not to go all Spinoza on y'all, but Liberal MP Keith Martin seems to have decided to take matters into his own hands and at least partially fill the policy void that exists in the country at the moment. Last week, he introduced a private members bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, arguing that the "war on drugs has been a complete failure." No kidding. This private members bill makes way too much sense, which means it is likely doomed to die a slow death. Today, however, Martin pulls out the big guns and challenges the sacred cow of all sacred cows: medicare. He puts forward a compelling argument for Canada to move towards a European style, mixed system of health care provision. Obviously this is a very complex issue with no easy answers. I certainly have my views, as do most Canadians. (I'm concerned about the future of public education in this country unless we do something to change the way we fund health care and loosen the noose that currently strangles all provincial budgets.) But I'm less interested in the specifics of the debate than in the fact that here we have a smart, thoughtful MP who dared to put forward a thoughtful argument on an important issue. His position does not rely on empty rhetoric, slogans or personal attacks but rather "facts" and "logic." At least I think he is relying on facts and logic - it's been so long since I've seen either that I can be forgiven if I forget what they look like. Martin's policy proposal would likely not poll particularly well, and it is not immediately obvious how it positions him for a future leadership run, cabinet promotion, a better table at Hy's or anything else that should be the sole concern of an elected official. (This is where I have officially switched over to my sarcastic voice, for those still reading.) He makes no claim to be speaking on behalf of his party, his leader, his colleagues, his pet poochie or anyone other than himself. Imagine that. This is obviously a shocking role for any of our elected officials to play in the country, and I fear that Martin's career as a politician is likely in grave peril. Or, God forbid, others decide to follow his lead.
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