Shona Holmes: The Face of Healthcare Propaganda?

30 07 2009

Healthcare reform has quickly become the summer’s most controversial American political topic. Following President Obama’s July 22nd speech, advocates and opposition of public healthcare have shifted efforts into high-gear. The Republican flag-bearer as shown above is a Canadian named Shona Holmes. In recently produced commercials for Patients United Now (funded by the Republican Party) and in various television interviews, Shona tells a harrowing tale of being diagnosed with a brain tumour, but due to Canada’s government run healthcare system was going to have to wait 6 months before seeing a specialist, and instead traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona for treatment. In her words “if I’d relied on my government for healthcare, I’d be dead.”

But like infamous Joe “The Plumber”, there are a few discrepancies in Shona’s story. First of all, the life threatening brain tumour spoken of isn’t entirely accurate; according to the Mayo Clinic’s website, Shona received successful treatment for a Rathke’s cleft cyst (RCC). RCC’s can cause dizziness and potentially blindness, but ultimately is a benign cyst, and not cancer, nor life-threatening. Secondly, Shona suggests that she was able to receive the surgery immediately upon returning to the Mayo Clinic, when in fact the Mayo Clinic itself states that she underwent “weeks of tests and then got ready for the surgery.”

As a Canadian, what’s most disappointing about this story is how she misrepresents the Canadian healthcare system and general public opinion of Canadians. She states that Canadians are “ignorant” to the perils of our government run system and are too proud to admit its faults. Considering the voting of Tommy Douglas, the forefather of our national system, as the “Greatest Canadian”, she is right in saying we as a country are proud of our healthcare.

Certainly Canadians have been known to complain about some associated waiting times for treatment, just as I know some Americans who have experienced the same trials receiving care. Additionally, I do sympathize with Mrs. Holmes, and anyone faced with long wait times to receive diagnosis, tests or treatment, and I can only imagine the fear associated with the prospect of losing one’s eyesight. But Shona Holmes and other critics of the Canadian government run system fail to acknowledge its benefits. Universal healthcare is just that, universal. Government run healthcare doesn’t cater to those with the most money, or the best insurance policy, but instead seeks to treat everyone, with those in greatest need of medical care receiving priority.

I’m not suggesting that the Canadian system is best for the United States, but neither is President Obama. Considering that there are an estimated 46 million Americans without health insurance, and also considering that Shona Holmes allegedly spent 97 thousand dollars for her American treatment, it’s terribly saddening that there still are so many people fighting against reform in the United States when everyday more and more Americans can’t afford healthcare.

For a Canadian with a trumped up, albeit unfortunate story to be hired and paraded out to lie and sell propaganda to the American public isn’t necessarily surprising, that’s the nature of politics, but it is disappointing.

I also can’t help but believe that Mrs. Holmes will be grateful the next time she requires Canadian medical care and the last words she hears are “Take care, and have a good day!”, rather than “You can expect the bill in the mail.”


On an unrelated note, Shona Holmes has an interesting day-job when she’s not traveling the United States berating Canadian healthcare.




4 responses

31 07 2009
Tyler Bradt

I’m pretty sure she took out a SECOND mortgage on her home to pay for the surgery down south.

31 07 2009

Ya, I didn’t delve into that, but there is information floating around that she did; considering the present state of the American economy, unemployment and housing sector, it’s astounding that a woman having to remortgage her house to cover $97,000 medical bills would be the figurehead for keeping the present private healthcare system

2 08 2009
Dr. Prole

Not only is she the darling of the Republicans right now on this issue, but she is suing, with the help of “charity” the Canadian Constitution Foundation, to get public care dismantled in Canada!

21 08 2009
Benjamin Wendell

Good post, and I am in nearly total agreement. As for my own comment about “lefty fear-mongering”, it was intended tongue-in-cheek, which just proves that sarcasm is difficult to convey in a short essay. If you continue to read Left, Right, and Centered, you’ll soon enough understand that I’m the lefty in the title, and that I’m a firm advocate of things like national health care and controlling global warming.

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