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Federal Tories gearing up to force an early election are busy trying to downplay the pro-privatization policies they know dont appeal to voters. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has reportedly been asked to tone down or delay any health care announcements, to avoid the mid-campaign flameout that burned the Tories last June.

Kleins public musings about violating the Canada Health Act to allow more privatized health care sent the Tories into a defensive tailspin, and gave the Liberals a last-minute scare tactic that helped steal support from the New Democratic Party. Once in office, Liberal posturing about defending medicare quickly evaporated. For-profit care has flourished under the Liberals, particularly in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta.

Tory strategists were too late with the duct tape for two other key Conservatives who recently unveiled a report calling for more health care privatization. Preston Manning and Mike Harris wrote the report for the right-wing Fraser Institute. Using the language of freedom of choice, they propose to eliminate any federal role in health care which means scrapping the Canada Health Act. They also suggest the provinces could save money by privatizing health care.

Manning and Harris borrow Kleins Third Way label to describe the radical surgery they propose for public health care. Klein is holding a symposium called Unleashing Innovation in Health Systems at the end of April. Alberta Friends of Medicare have organized a counter-symposium called Weighing the Evidence, which will bring together experts from around the world to expose the truth about Kleins innovations.

Visit their website, www.friendsofmedicare.ab.ca for more about the conference and the Tory agenda for medicare.