CSIS, Khadr, Human Rights -- and an aside about health care.

As reported by the CBC, the Security Intelligence Review Committee has released a report indicating that CSIS violated Omar Khadr's human rights by not taking his age into account when he was interrogated at Guantanamo Bay. (He was sixteen at the time, and as video evidence shows, broke down crying for his mother while being questioned.)

Further, as reported by Kathleen Petty of CBC on The House, SIRC's report indicates that "CSIS cannot carry out its mandate solely from an intelligence-gathering perspective. They have to take things like human rights into account."

I'm not going to comment on this in depth, but I'd like to say -- thank goodness. It remains to be seen whether or not CSIS will develop a proper protocol for dealing with youth in the future, but the declaration by SIRC that human rights have to take precedence over gathering information fits quite precisely with what I like to imagine to be Canadian values.

And, on that note, an aside about health care. Today, I decided that I wanted a specialist opinion about a (definitely not urgent) health issue. So, being in the US and having good insurance through my student-employee union, I checked the directory for my insurance provider, and booked an appointment. In about two weeks, I'll be seeing a specialist (with a subspecialty, even), and paying about $10 out of pocket.

So, for a few minutes, I thought -- maybe this is better than the care I'd receive in Canada. Back home, I'd certainly be waiting longer for this doctor, and being in a smaller area I'd like not be able to find a doctor with this particular subspecialty. I wouldn't be able to decide on my own, either, that I wanted this issue double-checked, and then to make my appointment.

But then I thought, you know, I would gladly sacrifice those benefits to be sure that I was in a system where other people are getting looked after. I'd quite happily wait a few more weeks or months to be seen (with no likely health consequences). I'd quite happily consult with my GP about a referral. And all of that is, quite simply, because that's the way I think things should work.

So, at the risk of playing Smug Canadian (a game I try to avoid), I'll point out that this too is part of what I imagine to be Canadian values. Just as I'd choose to protect human rights over 'intelligence gathering', I'd choose to be part of a national collective that protects the basic healthcare needs of everybody over the convenience of those privileged to have good coverage. That's not to say that the Canadian system is perfect -- because it isn't, of course. But the principle behind the system is, well, the right one.

Aieee! Have I gone patriotic?


Aaron said...

I am glad that the insurance worked out for you. However, the US system still sucks in my view. I could go on about the nightmares of having a baby, and note that the Stony Brook University Hospital is no longer a preferred provider for Stony Brook insurance. Maybe my experiences can be chalked up to Long Island idiocy, but I don't know.
Besides the point you make on the limited coverage, the system itself is very inefficient, since what we think of as a single need, "insurance," is actually a complex collection of different companies and interests, and it is all highly uncoordinated.
This is not to say Canadian or other insurance systems are thereby better - I don't know, but there certainly is a lot to be desired down here.

cancrit(at)gmail.com said...

The whole thing with the SB Hospital really is unbelievable, isn't it?

I've never really had dealings with my insurance for more than office visits, so it makes sense that you guys would have had slightly more basis for criticism of the system. ;-)

I suppose part of my implicit point is that this notion of "choice" is one of the the things that people typically raise when talking about the "socialized medicine" monster creeping south of the border (i.e. to the States).

On the individual level, in some circumstances, I do have *marginally* more control over what doctors I see and when, as this story illustrates. But that doesn't mean that the benefit to the average Canadian is outweighed by having Government Control over healthcare. I don't think it is. And you know, that marginally increased level of control -- I would quite honestly give it up to know that the people I run into day-to-day are all able to access what they need, too.

I like this point very much:

Besides the point you make on the limited coverage, the system itself is very inefficient, since what we think of as a single need, "insurance," is actually a complex collection of different companies and interests, and it is all highly uncoordinated.

For the sake of argument, I'll point out that a non-profit, single-payer system cuts out some of those parties and interests. But -- though I approve of how we handle stuff on principle, anyway, I'm not going to argue that the system is perfect up north, either. :) It's way outside of my expertise to start parsing the system in detail, but it's certainly not perfect...