CALGARY — A weekend admission by former Alaskan governor and U.S. vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin over her family’s use of the Canadian health care system while growing up in Alaska has critics of the outspoken hockey mom crying foul online.
“My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska, right there by Whitehorse,” Palin said during a speech in Calgary on Saturday. “Believe it or not — this was in the ‘60s — we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn’t that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada."
It was little surprise that Sarah Palin’s first visit to Canada would be in Calgary. And there was little shock that she was able to curry favour with the local Albertan crowd by speaking at length and with much authority about the Alaska government’s process of securing TransCanada for the Alaska Pipeline Project.
But given Palin’s previous warnings about the ills of expanding government role in U.S. health care, American media and the general blogosphere were buzzing over the claim.
On the Daily Kos website, one post — entitled Sarah "The Death Panel Queen" Palin Went to Canada for Health Care — called the former Alaskan governor “opportunistic” and “hypocritical.”
“It’s good enough for her, but not for the rest of the American people who don’t have easy access to Canada and a system that isn’t based on wage discrimination?” the post made on the left-leaning political blog stated.
And Gawker.com also pointed out Palin’s comment, writing that her family put her brother on a train “and sent him to Canada for the socialism.”
Palin has previously claimed Canada should dismantle its public health care system and called the push by U.S. President Barack Obama to nationalize the American system “irresponsible,” suggesting the move would allow “death panels” to choose whether Americans would live or die.
The Yukon reference was the only time heath care was mentioned in Palin’s speech, or in her subsequent interview with Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin, who is still best known as a veteran TV journalist.
Wallin instead pressed Palin on why she wanted to be a political leader if she was warning members of the Tea Party Patriots — a disparate group of anti-tax, libertarian activists — not to take someone on as their leader because "a politician will disappoint."
Palin also spoke about how, as governor, she significantly hiked state taxes for oil companies, or, in her words, "readjusted the value" of extracting a resource that belong to Alaskans.
Several conservative Alberta politicians were in attendance at the Calgary event, including former premier Ralph Klein, federal cabinet minister Stockwell Day, Calgary MPs Rob Anders and Lee Richardson, and Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith — who has drawn many comparisons to the former U.S. vice-presidential hopeful.
With files from Jason Markusoff, Calgary Herald