Immigration/Border Control : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

Rep Tom Tancredo

-- (, June 18, 2002


Our Canadian border is huge and wide open. No, we do not need protection from Canadians but Canada has not been careful in screening its own immigration. If you were a foreign terrorist, what is the easiest way to gain entry to the US?

Mexico is a different problem. There are huge numbers of Mexicans themselves and other Latin Americans that come thru Mexico that are a concern as well as foreign terrorists.

What to do? It is impractical and repugnant to militarize thousands of miles of borders, north and south. Yet a sovereign nation has the right and resposibility to control its own borders.

-- (, June 18, 2002.

"It is impractical and repugnant to militarize thousands of miles of borders, north and south."

Dumbya doesn't care if it is impractical. The repugnant part is too hard to resist, so he will do it. Last week he even gave his buddy Sharon a bunch of our money to start building a wall in Israel too. He's just waiting until Congress approves his plan to build the 4th Reich (Department of "Homeland Security"), then he is going to surprise us with the part about the wall and the concentration camps.

-- (gas chambers and ovens @ soon. to follow), June 18, 2002.

Four things:

1)- Enough BS about the "world's longest unprotected border". It is long past time to annex Canada to the US. Western Canada has much more in common with the Western US than it does with the corrupt pols in Ottawa. The Quebecois would have more independence under US rule than under Canadian. With Canada added to the US, immigration could be controlled more easily. Border control would not be an issue until nature restores the Alaskan landbridge.

2)-Be proactive vis a vis Mexico. Annex Baja California. This is prime real estate that is going to waste. Under US control, condos could be built from San Diego to Capo San Lucas. The festering Tijuana could be raised and redeveloped by Disney.

3)-Militarize the remaining Mexican border with the most hi-tech and aggressive techniques--electrified razor wire, electronic sensors, satellite surveillance, gun turrets every mile, military patrols, aggressive robots. Whatever it takes.

4)-Eliminate NAFTA. Free trade is good in theory but not in practice. Trade should be promoted but severely controlled. Mexican trucks cannot be permitted to freely cross the border. Likewise American trucks.

All of this will be massively expensive and unpleasant. But the safety and cultural integrity of the US is worth the effort.

-- (, June 18, 2002.


I'm surprised you didn't compare the Israeli wall to the Berlin wall. I'm sure you would have if your addled brain had only thought of it.

Of course the Berlin wall was intended to keep people in and the Israeli wall is intended to keep people (wearing bombs) out.

But hey, betcha liked my nuke-NAFTA suggestion. Any good Buchanonite would like that.

-- (, June 18, 2002.

We could build a wall at each border, like the great wall of China. It would create jobs...... And the creatures would get confused when they migrated, but since we are no longer a free society, what does it matter any more? It would serve to keep citizens in as well as non citizens out. Kinda like the USSR use to be. We already are loosing our freedom of speech, being threatened with arrest if we "protest" our government officials. We have no protection against search and seizure, search warrants are no longer required. Our private communications are no longer protected, anything we say or write can be used against us in a court of law.

So why not just close off the borders and become what we spent all of the cold war years fighting... a closed society where you either touted the party line or fellow citizens would turn you in for being subversives. Hell, even on this forum some people have threatened to turn in others because of their views. Kinda pathetic that Russia is in essence, a freer country than ours is these days.

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), June 18, 2002.

Roland, should we expect a groundswell of Canadian opinion in favor of your annexation idea any time soon? Or is this another case of "shut up and take your medicine because I'm your Daddy and I say it is good for you"...?

-- Little Nipper (, June 18, 2002.

I think I have heard that there is significant sentiment in western Canada for political/economic indepedence from eastern Canada. They feel they are being unfairly taxed. But that is not the issue. Our national security is the issue. If Canada permits itself to become a safe haven for foreigners who attack the US, then they must expect us to do what ever is necessary to protect ourselves. Occupying Canada would be more practical than militarizing a 4000 mile border.

Besides, it is our Manifest Destiny to incorporate Canada into the greater US.

What's more, they would benefit from our pop culture. Anschluss would be humanitarian for the benighted Great White North, ay?

They are so unhappy.

-- (, June 18, 2002.

"it is our Manifest Destiny to incorporate Canada into the greater US. "

Hey-hey, now you're talkin!! You're my kinda guy, want to volunteer for my Freedom Corps? Don't mind the name thing, it's just a joke for the sheeple who are too dumb to know that we're going to take over the world. Jus tell 'em Dumbya sent ya.

The plan is to incorporate Canada and Mexico first, then the rest of the world. They will make much better slaves for our corporations once we have them under our control, especially after we get our SS into full deployment. The ones who can't work will be accused of terrorist plotting and sent to the chambers, no problemo.

-- Dumbya (we need @ few good. fascists), June 18, 2002.

Gee, I guess you're not Doc afterall. Doc hates beaners. No silly, we don't take over Mexico, except for Baja California. We can't assimilate 150 million Indios. Shoot, they deserve their own country but not ours. Azatlan is not negotiable.

Canada is a different story. We could assimilate them without a burp. Except for the quaint Quebecois and the run-amok Asians in BC they speak English and, even if they don't know it, they want to be part of the United States. How would you like to live in a country where the best comedians always emmigrate? How would you like to live in a country that wears earflaps?

-- (, June 18, 2002.

I'm not Doc, I'm Dumbya, and I luvs beaners. They fahllahs orders, they work fer beans, and yuh cun fit abot 15 of 'em in a little shack, so they dudn't take up much space. Very effishunt slaves!

-- Dumbya (I knows @ cuz I's frum. Texaco), June 18, 2002.

Unbelievable But True Immigration Stories


1)-300,000 people who have been ordered deported are still in the country because their deportation orders were not enforced. In many cases, after being ordered deported by a judge, the immigrant simply walked out of the courtroom. Read more at

2)-Fred Alexander, a deputy district director for the Immigration and Naturalization Service publicly told a group of "undocumented" day laborers that "It's not a crime to be in the U.S. illegally, it's a violation of civil law."

3)-The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General did not find any evidence that the INS is capable of locating visa violators still in the country. See 11/7/01 Washington Times page A6.

4)The INS had Mohammed Atta in custody because he tried to enter the U.S. on an improper visa, but let him go anyway. Read more at

5)-The Greyhound bus attacker was on a 30-day visa that had expired 2 years ago.

6)-Until passage of the PATRIOT act, political ideology was not grounds for deportation or inadmissibility. The language in the PATRIOT act alone may not even go far enough to fix this problem, though. Court cases have extended the First Amendment outside the country to the point that consular officials do not have the authority to stop someone who makes threatening statements from obtaining a visa. Read more at

7)-The INS spent $31.2 million on a computer system to track whether visaholders overstay their visas. The system still does not work, and the INS says that it needs an additional $57 million for the system.

8)-According to several universities, the INS routinely takes 6 mos. to respond to notifications from their registrars that foreign students are not attending classes.

9)-One of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers was given legal status in the 1986 amnesty.

10)-Each of the 19 hijackers had Social Security numbers, which they obtained legally. See 11/2/01 Chicago Tribune, page 4.

11)-Former Clinton INS commissioner Doris Meissner says that the amnesty program that President Fox of Mexico is pushing could make 27 million people eligible to move to the U.S. Read more at

12)-According to the non-partisan Center for Immigration Studies (, "In a newly released report, the Census Bureau estimated that perhaps 115,000 people from Middle Eastern countries live in the United States illegally."

13)-The INS brought a psychologist to its Newark, NJ office to try to resolve problems in the "dysfunctional" office that employees nearly unanimously declared "poorly led" and "very unhealthy." Employees described the office’s climate of "conspiracy and secrecy," and believed that awards and promotions were based on favoritism, not job performance. Read more at

14)-Border Patrol agents at the Juarez/El Paso border sometimes ask border crossers to step through the "drug sniffing door," which is simply a wooden door frame on wheels.

15)-In October and November 2001, 7,000 visas were issued to men from countries in which Al-Qaeda is known to be active. Read more at:

16)-From the founding of our nation until about 1965, the average annual number of immigrants and refugees to the United States was about 200,000 people. Since 1990, this number has been running at about one million people each year – and that does not include the annual population gain from illegal aliens.

17)-There are a total of 4 political appointees at the INS.

18)-Through the diversity visa program, the U.S. encourages people from each of the seven countries on the State Department terrorist watch list to apply for visas to come to the U.S. Read more at

19)-Four states – Utah, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee – have a policy of issuing drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants with no questions asked. Read how at least five of the hijackers used their Virginia licenses to remain in the U.S. undetected:

20)-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had openly declared that he will not enforce U.S. immigration laws. "…those people who are undocumented do not have to worry about the city government…" Read more at:

21)-Saudi Arabians wishing to travel to the U.S. are typically not interviewed by the State Department. They can obtain visas through travel agents or "drop boxes" near the U.S. Consulates in the country. 15 of the 19 hijackers obtained their visas in Saudi Arabia. Read more at: http://www.washingtonpostcom/wp-dyn/articles/A14788-2001Oct30.html

22)-The INS has a processing backlog of approximately 4.5 million immigration applications.

23)-State Department form DS-156 – the official nonimmigrant visa application – asks the following question: "Do you seek to enter the U.S. to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities, or any other unlawful purpose? Are you a member of a terrorist organization as currently designated by the U.S. Secretary of State?" The footnote to the question states that "A YES answer does not automatically signify ineligibility for a visa." Read the application at

24)-Studies estimate there are approximately 350,000 people who have become illegal immigrants by overstaying their visas. Because of its failure to implement an entry-exit system as required by a 1996 law, the INS has no way to identify or locate them.

25)-Since September 11th, no action has been taken to tighten up the "visa waiver" program – a program that permits people from 29 countries to enter the U.S. without a visa or an interview.

26)-The GAO found that the INS wastes around $100 million per year by not efficiently managing the deportation of criminal immigrants.

27)-The renewal of Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality act in 2001 legalized approximately 900,000 illegal immigrants in just four months.

28)-91% of the respondents to an October 2001 "quick vote" poll responded that "the U.S. should tighten immigration laws."

29)-New INS field officers quickly learn an unofficial creed: "Big cases, big problems. Small cases, small problems. NO cases, NO problems." This claim, made by an INS whistleblower who testified before the Congressional Immigration Caucus, has been confirmed by several other INS agents who have contacted Rep. Tancredo to assure him that it is true.

30)-INS whistleblowers have come to live by another widely understood maxim: "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free… to look for another job."

31)-Immigrants who are detained on deportable offenses are often released with a summons to appear at a deportation hearing at some point in the future. The summons has become sarcastically known as a "run letter," because it simply prompts the criminal alien to run from the law and disappear back into the community undetected. See 1/14/02 Buffalo News, page B4.

32)-Fraud within the H-1B (high-tech) non-immigrant visa system has become so rampant that an entire industry of "body shops" has sprung up in America. The body shops sponsor foreign workers’ visas and then place them in jobs with American companies, typically working for a significantly lower wage than American high-tech workers.

33)-The best place to buy fake documents in order to get into the U.S. from Mexico – just blocks away from the border crossing in Juarez. The best person to ask for help in getting them – the Mexican official guarding the gate! U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo recently asked a Mexican official at the border crossing how to get phony papers, and was given directions and advice about how much he should pay for them.

34)-Between 1993 and 2002, Congress roughly quadrupled INS’ operating budget. A recent piece wrote that despite this, INS has a "range and depth of management problems, including poor financial reporting, incorrect records management … poor personnel management, and inadequate capital planning." Read more at

35)-Companies who are laying off H-1B visaholders frequently inform the INS that the person’s status has changed to "unpaid leave" rather than "unemployed." The H-1B worker is then free to search for another job indefinitely (and compete with American workers in the high-tech job market) without fear of deportation.

36)-A teenager was arrested in California for stealing an elderly woman’s purse and breaking her arm. He told the police he was in the country illegally and wasn’t carrying any identification. An immigration judge ordered him deported. Once across the border, he picked up the phone and asked his mom to drive down with his U.S. passport so that he – a U.S. citizen – could re-enter the country, having successfully gotten away with a felony.

37)-Just two weeks after September 11th, Clinton INS Commissioner Doris Meissner said at a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace forum that tracking down people who overstay their visas (as most of the hijackers did) has been "a very, very low priority, and I think it should be a low priority." To read more, see

38)-During the summer of 2001, the Mexican government distributed "survival kits" to Mexicans near the border containing granola bars, water, first aid supplies, and condoms – presumably to make their upcoming (illegal) journeys into America easier. This story was widely reported, but see the 7/8/01 edition of the Baltimore Sun, page 1C

39)-The INS used a motel room in Durango, Colorado to detain a group of illegal immigrants from Central America after their arrest. The room was left unguarded overnight, and the illegal immigrants "escaped" through the windows. See 5/20/01 Denver Post, page A1

40)-The H-1B program (for high-tech temporary work) admits about 500 "fashion models" visas for employment in the U.S. every year.

41)-Walter Cadman, the former INS District Director in Florida was caught deceiving Congressional investigators looking into the functioning of the INS and then lead a coverup. The Justice Department investigated the scandal – "Kromegate" – and recommended that Cadman be fired for hiding evidence that the facilities he oversaw were grossly mismanaged. Cadman was briefly demoted and a year later, in 1998, was promoted to the head of the INS National Security Unit. Read the entire story at:

42)-Confusion as to the true point at which the U.S. ends and Mexico begins has grown to the point that on March 14th, 2000, a Mexican Army unit crossed the U.S. border, mistakenly chased U.S. Border Patrol Agents and shot at them. Read the entire story at

43)-Juan Hernandez, head of the government’s Office of Mexicans Living Outside Mexico, told U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo that the North American southwest "is not two countries; it’s just a region."

44)-In Houston, after September 11th, an INS task force was established to help search for some of the most dangerous immigrant fugitives in the region. The more than 20 officers were expected complete their task with between two and four cars. One officer, who was forced to remain at his desk due to a lack of transportation said, "There are thousands of [fugitive] files, and we’re pushing paper." See the 1/11/02 Houston Chronicle page A1.

45)-Between six and eight million people living in America are dual-citizens – implying that they share their political and ideological loyalty between America and some other country. A series of court decisions dating back to 1980 have weakened expatriation laws to the point that being elected to office in another country or serving as a high ranking officer in a foreign military are not sufficient grounds for losing U.S. citizenship. A report on the implications of this can be found at

46)-Illegal immigrants who enroll in the University of California system are charged in-state tuition.

47)-Speaking to a gathering in Milwaukee in July of 2001, President Vicente Fox of declared that "Mexico extends beyond its borders."

48)-INS Commissioner James Ziglar’s only law enforcement experience is serving as the Sergeant-at-Arms for the Senate.

49)-Although the law says that H-1B visaholders must leave the country immediately after being laid off or fired, the INS has told them that no one will be forced to leave, and to keep looking for new jobs.

50)-A movement to reclaim "Aztlan" has begun in America’s west. Sometimes known as the "reconquista" movement, its aim is (evidently) to retake the southwest back from the U.S. government. Its leaders declare that "political-economic power, which respects only money and force is our fundamental enemy and the name of this power is ‘colonization’ and Capitalism is its principal weapon." Read more online at

51)-63% of INS managers responding to a 1997 GAO survey, said that unclear lines of accountability were a problem at the INS to a moderate or great extent. Read more online at

52)-In 1990, Congress created "temporary protected status" (TPS) – a status under which people from countries experiencing a natural disaster or civil war could come to the U.S. temporarily. The true beneficiaries of this status are usually illegal immigrants. When Congress passed the 1990 law, it specified that persons from El Salvador would be the first beneficiaries. Most of the people from El Salvador who applied for TPS, however, were already in the country illegally and simply "adjusted their status." The net result was a widespread amnesty for Salvadorans living in America illegally. Read more about TPS abuse at and

53)-What is INS’ policy toward illegal immigrants in the U.S.? According to INS manager Nina Moniz "Our job is to explain to people why they are here illegally, help them change that and help them to get benefits." -7/23/2001 Interview on Denver’s KOA radio

54)-Six months after September 11th, INS mailed a letter to the flight school in Florida informing them that two of the hijackers (including ringleader Mohammed Atta) had been approved for student visas. Despite the president’s "outrage" at the incident, to date INS’ only response has been to reassign four career INS employees.

55)-The town of San Luis, Arizona has around 3,000 residents but 20,000 post office boxes. The reason? So that Mexican citizens living just across the border can come to the U.S. to collect the public benefits (welfare checks) every month that they signed up for using their P.O. Box as their "permanent" address in the U.S.

56)-The families of 11 illegal immigrants who died crossing the Arizona desert have filed a claim against the federal government asking for $3.75 million for each of the dead. They claim that the because the government rejected a proposal to place water stations in the desert, it (and therefore American taxpayers) should pay damages to the families. Read more at

57)-Mexican Army and Law Enforcement Agencies routinely make "incursions" into the U.S. A total of 23 were confirmed by the U.S. government in 2001. The purpose of these incursions is not totally understood, but U.S. officials have speculated that they are designed to help facilitate the flow of illegal drugs into America. The Mexican government sent a curt response to Rep. Tancredo’s inquiry, implying that the troops were merely getting lost. Not a single U.S. law enforcement agent on the ground in the southwest has agreed with that explanation.

58)-The Coronado National Forest in Southern Arizona sits along 60 miles of the U.S.-Mexico Border. It has become one of the most popular drug smuggling routes in the Southwest, with smugglers moving on foot across the forest, typically carrying homemade backpacks filled with 50+ pounds of marijuana.

59)-A barbed wire fence demarcates most of the border between Douglas and Nogales, Arizona. There are several places, however, where a gate has been simply been put in the fence to make crossing through it less of a hassle. In one place, the fence gives way to nothing more than a cattle guard!

60)-The rugged Coronado National Forest has become strewn with literally thousands of trails and footpaths worn into the land by the flow of illegal immigrants. Often, the "UDA’s," as undocumented aliens are referred to by law enforcement, leave their campfires burning, starting forest fires. Over 60,000 acres of the Coronado have burned recently, much of it the result of fires started by UDA’s.

61)-The INS ordered the release of a van full of illegal immigrants from the mid-east over Memorial Day 2002 because they "didn’t want to be bothered" over the holiday. The INS supervisor in charge told the NYPD that the "INS would follow up at a future date in our own way." Read the full story at or,2933,54145,00.html

-- (, June 18, 2002.

And I thought the Marx Brothers were dead.

-- Uncle Deedah (, June 18, 2002.

Okay, Roland, I'll bite. I'm a western Canadian (from Alberta, likely the most US influenced province in the country). We have a premier (governer equivalent) who would almost certainly be more comfortable if he lived in the States. He is in the minority, here, though. We are very much like the US in our culture in many ways, but there are some important differences which every poll done tells our leaders not to violate. For one thing, Canada has public health paid for by public purse. Although this has both positive and negative effects, Canadians are strongly in favour of it. For another, we have draconian anti-gun laws and most citizens are quite strongly in favour of that, as well. Seeing the amount of gun use on tv may be partially the reason for that, but seeing the number of murders in cities of approximately the same size in the US vs Canada is a more rational one. How 'bout if we amalgamate you instead? Y'know, we're the winners of the only war the two of us have fought (see war of 1812 - something most US histories avoid, I believe)


-- Tricia the Canuck (, June 18, 2002.


I was endeavoring absurdist humor in order to get a rise from Trollboy. Predictably, it worked. But seriously, I wish that Canada would not be so laissez-faire about its immigration policy. That's fine, but not when they want to kill you or me.

-- (, June 18, 2002.

LOL, now Rolo boy is backing out because he realized how stupid he is! Well, you may claim now that you don't support it, but that isn't going to stop your hero Dumbya and the NWO fascists.

-- (roloboy@waffling.repug), June 19, 2002.

And who is your hero, putzkopf?

-- (, June 19, 2002.

I think it’s his left hand Rolo. The right has a headache.

-- Trollboy (limp@wrist.liberal), June 19, 2002.

No, trollboy is not a Liberal. He is a Konspiracy freak.

-- (, June 19, 2002.

Dimwit Rolo, my heroes include Ross Perot, Pat Buchanon, Lyndon LaRouche and Robert Welch.

-- ("Dumbya does Dallas" @ Pay for.view), June 19, 2002.

I am also very impressed with Doc of Las Vegas except for his racist views on beaners.

-- (Dipshits@ruling.NWO), June 19, 2002.


Not exactly true. Harumph, don't they teach history in Calgary. You forgot about the Pig War. Pig War

Started in 1859 and lasted until after the Civil War. Ended by negotiation, but you folks lost and left with your tails betwixt your legs. So there. ;<))))

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, June 19, 2002.

That, of course, should read:

Pig War

Shouldn't try HTML after a day on the plane. ;<)))

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, June 19, 2002.

Well, Z, I guess I stand (or sit) corrected. Pig war! I've never heard it refered to as that, although I did know there was disagreement over the ownership of San Juan Island. I guess the reason that I've never heard it refered to as a war is that there was no violent action taken (except against a pig). If only all wars could be as bloodless!

Roland, I'm not a complete ditz; I did realize that you were definitely tongue-in-cheek. It's just a bit of a sensitive area for me. Kinda like mentioning the financial benefits of amalgamating Navy and Marines to a Marine ;-) Bound to get some response!

-- Tricia the Canuck (, June 19, 2002.

"Canada has public health paid for by public purse. Although this has both positive and negative effects, Canadians are strongly in favour of it." The negative, from the US point of view of course, is that we're paying for it. If we went to the Canadian health system, our life span would be shorten.

-- Maria (, June 20, 2002.

Had to dive in with a few observations:

Number of hijackers on Sept 11th: 19

Number who entered the US via Canada: ummm......ZERO, NADA, ZILCH (look it up, as Archie Bunker would say)

Hey, we're bigger and we're on top. If we were in prision you'd be our maybe we'll annex you!

Maria said: "If we went to the Canadian health system, our life span would be shorten"

JC says: HUH? I'm pretty sure we edge you guys out on life expectancy, as well as infant mortality, but I'd have to find sources before being definitive on that. The US health care system is great if you have money and/or good insurance (I found that out when I got an infected foot in Florida at Christmas). However, it kind of sucks if you have neither.

One of the guys who works for me starting experiencing chest pains a few weeks ago. His doctor sent him for a Stress Test (free) after which he was admitted to hospital (free). Three days later he had quintuple bypass surgery (free) at one of the top cardiac hospitals in Toronto and is now home and recovering well. I can echo Tricia's sentiments that Canadians are very attached to their health care system. We're prepared to accept a greater tax burden in return for not having to sell our houses if we need bypass surgery. (It is probably one of the few things that an Albertan and an Ontarian agree on :-) Think of Montana and Mass. and you'll get the picture.)

Oh, hi to all the regulars. I haven't been stopping by here much, although I have been in the US a lot since January (FL, GA, MD, WV, VA, Wash DC, NY, IL and CA so far). It's kind of ironic, as I haven't been to any other Canadian provinces this year, although I do have tickets to see the last Expos game in Montreal....unless Bud Selig and the mental midgets who run baseball decide to lock the players out in the interim.

-- Johnny Canuck (, June 22, 2002.

Maria -

I just did a quick search of Stats Can and the CDC web sites to get the relevant life expectancy and infant mortality figures for Canada and the US. It would appear that Canadians live longer than their American brothers and sisters and have a lower infant mortality rate. Couldn't be that socialized medicine, could it? (g)

Life Expectancy

US source: (2000 data)

Canada source: XIB/summary1.htm (1996 data)

Total Population: US - 76.9 Canada - 78.6

Women: US - 79.5 Canada - 81.4

Men: US - 74.1 Canada - 75.7 ____________________________

Infant Mortality (rate per 1000 live births)

US source: (1999 data)

Canada source: (1997 data)

US - 7.0 Canada 5.5

-- Johnny Canuck (, June 22, 2002.


There are so many variables in a comparison of this sort that it doesn't prove much. Life style, ethnicity, cultural, economic, weather itself. To isolate the " socialized medicine" influence, it would be more meaningful to compare Canadian health statistics with health statistics from the northern tier states of the US.

I'd wager that the Dakotas look better than all of Canada.

-- (, June 22, 2002.

"Maria said: "If we went to the Canadian health system, our life span would be shorten"

Bwaahahahaa! Where does she get this stuff, pull it out of her ass??

-- (maria@clueless.moron), June 22, 2002.

Link, 2002

Canada's Abysmal Health Technology Record

by Nadeem Esmail

The Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario has just added a new MRI unit; Alberta has committed itself to increasing the number of MRI units in the province by seven; and the Federal Government has allocated $1 billion of spending to increasing health technology. What is all this sudden fuss about MRI units?

The MRI machine is a relatively new device that became popular in the late 1980s. It creates images of the human body so doctors can analyze fluid movements, search areas like the brain or spinal cord for abnormalities, and diagnose muscle or soft tissue injuries. Although the machines are not cheap, they are of great value to surgeons, as none of these areas can be diagnosed with traditional x-ray based machines.

So now that Canada is investing heavily in these new, high-tech machines, will Canada be a health technology leader in the near future? Unfortunately, no.

Not for Lack of Spending

The country’s failure as a technology leader is not due to a lack of spending. Canada spends a lot of money on health care. In fact, when we consider the percentage of GDP spent on health care, Canada is the sixth highest spender in the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD), and the fifth highest in actual dollars spent per person. (See table.)

Despite our record for high spending, relatively few health technologies are available to Canadians. Canada currently ranks a depressing nineteenth in a comparison of 25 OECD countries for MRI availability. A number of countries that spend less than Canada rank higher in the availability of MRI scanners.

At present, Canada would have to add 161 MRI machines to place sixth on the chart, which would equal its rank in total spending as a percent of GDP. That number leaps to an astonishing 327 MRIs if we wished to place second (leaving out Japan, which has a disproportionately high number of MRI machines).

These simple facts go a long way towards explaining the alarming median waiting time of 12 weeks for an MRI scan. We simply don’t have the technology available to us in quantities comparable to the rest of the OECD.

Less-Expensive Technology?

Of course, some will argue that Canada may have chosen to substitute less-expensive equipment for the very costly high-tech MRI machines. A computed tomography (CT) scanner, for example, can sometimes be used as a lower-cost, albeit lower-quality, alternative to an MRI scanner.

CT scanners generate an x-ray of a cross-section of the body (as opposed to the usual lengthwise image), which allows doctors to diagnose far more than they can with a basic x-ray, but still less than they can with an MRI. Specifically, the CT scanner is less able to diagnose problems in soft tissue or muscles.

If Canada in fact has been using CT scans in place of MRI scans to reduce costs, then Canada would rank relatively high on the CT scanner comparison in order to compensate for a relatively low ranking on the MRI comparison. Unfortunately for Canadians, this is not the case. In a comparison of 23 OECD countries, Canada’s rank for the availability of CT scanners was similar to its rank for MRI scanners: a depressing eighteenth.

There can be no disputing the facts: Health technology is not available to Canadians in a quantity that compares favourably with other wealthy OECD countries.


Nadeem Esmail is health policy analyst at The Fraser Institute. He completed his B.A. in economics at the University of Calgary, and his Masters in economics at the University of British Columbia. He can be reached by email at

Return to May 2002 contents

-- (Jiminy Canuck@health.queue), June 22, 2002.

Lars and Maria - do the research. Or even read a few books by people who have and are willing to say *where* they got their stats. It has been proven quite conclusively that for all first world countries, the more common the public health, the longer the life expectancy. I'd recommend a book by Kevin Taft and Gillian Stewart "Clear Answers : The Economics and Politics of For-Profit Medicine". In a speech he gave supporting public funded health care he said the following : The New England Journal of Medicine, 1999, says "For decades, no peer-reviewed study has found for-profit hospitals less expensive than not-for profit hospitals." Health Affairs magazine, 1997, says "No historical study showed for-profit hospitals worked better." The Institute of Medicine, in 1986, said "All studies show not-for-profit hospitals are less expensive." So who benefits from private health care? The owners of it. Who benefits from public health care? The public. Your choice who you choose to support.

-- Tricia the Canuck (, June 22, 2002.

54)-Six months after September 11th, INS mailed a letter to the flight school in Florida informing them that two of the hijackers (including ringleader Mohammed Atta) had been approved for student visas. Despite the president’s "outrage" at the incident, to date INS’ only response has been to reassign four career INS employees.

"Reassign four career INS employees"! Is there any career-path more secure than that of civil "servant"? Well, maybe a few (tenured Profs, Catholic priests) but not many. Short of "going postal" it is almost impossible to fire career bureaucrats. Lateral transfers seem to be the maximum response to incompetence.

-- (, June 23, 2002.

Untrue Roland. The process just takes longer, and involves more documentation. It happens more regularly than the public sees. I know from experience. Plus, the beauracrats are prohibited from talking about it, so the public or anyone else never knows, unless the terminated employee tells them. And then the listener only gets one side of the story.

-- Aunt Bee (, June 24, 2002.

Maybe we have it all wrong.

What if we should be all fleeing to Canada and leaving this place the Mexicans? Let's see how good that national health care sytem is, shall we?

Got room Tricia?

-- Jack Booted Thug (, June 24, 2002.

Aunt Bee, you have said a mouthful here:

“Plus, the beauracrats are prohibited from talking about it, so the public or anyone else never knows, unless the terminated employee tells them. And then the listener only gets one side of the story.”

I too know this to be true.

Grinds me to no end.

Reminds me of another ‘Organization’.

Know what I mean?

-- Send (mo@money.please), June 24, 2002.

Johnny and Tricia, I obviously struck a chord, didn't mean to. But my point, which didn't go into detail, refers to the lack of drug research in your country. Your socialized medicine can't afford the dollars spent into research, so you rely, quite heavily, on us. (You do the research). Then your country can't afford the drugs from our country, so your government demands that the US supply Canadia with cheaper drugs. Guess who pays in the end, we do. So if we went to socialized medicine also, our research efforts would also curtail and both our countries would be up the creek without a paddle. My point is that your socialized medicine only works so well because of us.

-- Maria (, June 24, 2002.

"cheaper drugs"... what I meant to write was "drugs at a lower price". You get the same quality of drugs but you pay less for them.

-- Maria (, June 24, 2002.

Cheaper drugs? Not from my fascist drug cartels. Haa haa heee heee.

-- (Dumbya doing Dallas @ L.dopamine), June 24, 2002.

Then your country can't afford the drugs from our country, so your government demands that the US supply Canada with cheaper drugs.

Uh, not correct. The drug companies sell the drugs at a reasonable price to other countries, here in the Good Ol US of A, the "government "allows" inflated prices to asked for and given. Evan after patients run out, the pharmaceutical industry has managed to manipulate the powers that be into extending the patients, so generic drugs cannot be made and sold at a lower price, thus allowing the drug to be the only one sold at any inflated price the company asks for. It has been proven that the actual cost of the drug can be pennies and the price be $10, $20 a pill. They charge more here because there is nothing stopping them from doing so.
The pharmaceutical industry is not hurting in the least, financially.

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), June 24, 2002.

Lars: "I'd wager that the Dakotas look better than all of Canada."

You are forgetting the Souix nation is in the Dakotas. Their dismal numbers would offset a goodly number of those hard working Norwegian bachelor farmers. Plus, prenatal and postnatal care in the Dakotas is probably kinda thin in general. So I wouldn't be so sure.

However, I'm too lazy to do the necessary web search to get the numbers to prove one of us is right.

-- Little Nipper (, June 24, 2002.

Maria, do you mean to tell me that there is no pharmaceutical research being done in Europe, either? They have even more heavily subsidized health care than we do, in general. If they have research, (I'm pretty sure they do) there are obviously other factors at work than just the socialized medicine effect in their choice of US over Canada - something to do with the sheer number of consumers for their products perhaps.

JBT, sure, come on up ;-) Lots of empty land, and as the world warms up, it should get a better climate - something to pass along to the grandkids...

-- Tricia the Canuck (, June 24, 2002.

Everyone's right in part. Euro & US companies both spend a ton on R&D and both come up with winners. Being reasonably smart they charge what the market will bear around the world to maximize their profits. We pay the most by far and effectively subsidize drug R&D and profits for the rest of the world. Not much of a secret. Not only do we pay more but we insist on supersizing and insist further that the taxpayer or insurer pay for our TV ad generated needs.

Our unwillingness to turn over another fifth of our GDP to federal control is two edged for sure. If you take all local, state, federal employees and retirees then add those seniors in MediCare funded HMOs plus those on Medicaid you've a fair chunk already socialized (tax dollar dependent). Take just those and declare that you'll pay no more than the world average price for drugs and the system of drug development, production and distribution tailspins worldwide. That's how dependent the industry is on the US taxpayer not to mention private insurers charging those same taxpayers ever rising premiums and the few taxpayers who still pay cash.

Feeling unfairly fucked? You should. But how to solve?

Won't wax political here cause I have no clue. For starters suggest banning drug ads which in this country now cost more than R&D. Don't overload a system just because you can for either free or a copay. Truly, a third of the prescriptions I fill are a waste of money. Best example is probably a $100 dollar a month cholesterol med for a seventy year old hoping to make up for 50 years of bacon. Who's kidding who. Back to Pogo I guess. We've met the enemy once again and guess who?

-- Carlos (, June 25, 2002.

Here's to fairness-in-fucking!

-- (, June 25, 2002.

Lars, is that a new cabinet position authorized by the Bush administration?

Thanks for the invitation Tricia. It's good to know that hospitality and friendliness still exists somewhere besides Iowa. Despite what Cynthia thinks.

-- Jack Booted Thug (, June 25, 2002.

"It has been proven that the actual cost of the drug can be pennies " Cherri you forget that it also costs at least 15 years of research to come up with those drugs. Why should you discount that cost in your 'pennies' total? Typical liberal.

Tricia, I don't know about Europe. I'm sure they are doing great research as I do hear of some of their accomplishments over the media. I am talking about Canada. And since you didn't question it, I assume you agree that Canada does very little to no research.

-- Maria (, June 25, 2002.

"The pharmaceutical industry is not hurting in the least, financially." At it looks like we all win in the end. Cherri, without those financially sound companies you wouldn't have those wonderful drugs to keep the ole ticker going.

-- Maria (, June 25, 2002.

How about this: legalize addictive drugs just as the Libertarians advocate. Then, as the society's health declines due to the cheap and legal narcotics (I visualize RJ Reynolds Acapulco Gold marijuana filter tips, Coca Cola cocaine, etc), the Liberal do-gooders can have a field day legislatin and regulatin and taxin the bejesus out of this dangerous product that the corporate evil-doers have foisted on America.

-- (, June 25, 2002.

Oh, I forgot the trial-lawyers. Once the shit is legalized, they can sue the producers for addicting the users. Cool.

-- (, June 25, 2002.


I am not part of this argument. For a country with a much smaller population, Canada does quite a bit of research. I have close contacts with folks in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. I'm sure that I am aware of only a fraction of the public researchers in Canada.

Best Wishes,,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, June 25, 2002.

And how could I forget work at the University of Guelph. A group that I have cooperated [of and on] for years. They have made a major contribution to bacterial cloning and freely shared their information and constructs.

Best Wishes,,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, June 25, 2002.

Z, my comment about the number of consumers and yours about the difference in population go to the same arguement - it is illogical to expect Canada to be equal in research to the US in research into anything because there are about 10 times as many of you. I know very little about pharmaceutical research, nor do I have the time to figure out how much the drug companies gain or lose from the Canadian public medicine policy. Frankly, I don't understand why having private hospitals versus public ones would influence how much drug research is done here.

-- Tricia the Canuck (, June 25, 2002.

Tricia, I think (and this is my opinion) that Canadian system has restricted drug research (indirectly). It has controlled medical services in a big way. Well, that's what governments do when they get involved in an industry. So, just as California tried to control the utilities, Canada dictated what pharmaceuticals could make in profit. They dictated what the consumers would be charged for drugs (and we see that even across the border to our companies). So, logic says the companies would dry up, or go bankrupt, just as the utilities did in California. When government controls prices, everyone loses. I'm not sure this connection has been made but it's what I've concluded from what I see happening. I think that government involvement in any sector is a bad idea, no matter how you slice it. They should make and enforce laws, not try to control free markets.

-- Maria (, June 26, 2002.

Trish, you must understand Maria. She has an ideology. Her ideology tells her that a government program of universal health care MUST be inferior to a capitalist-controlled system of for-profit health care. Since this is a foregone conclusion, there is no need to consult the facts. Her ideology tells her that the facts, whatever they may be, MUST align with her ideology, since her ideology is uniformly and universally TRUE. At that point, consulting the facts becomes superfluous and a waste of effort.

She has thought this through very carefully. Don't confuse her.

-- Little Nipper (, June 26, 2002.

LOL LN too funny, and how many trees do you hug each day? Talk about ideology!

-- Maria (, June 26, 2002.

LN, unfortunately for us, that's exactly our premier's (governor equivalent) point of view. He initially hired Kevin Taft to write a report comparing the benefits of private versus public health care. When Kevin Taft did the research, he found it overwhelmingly in favour of public health care - something he wasn't expecting, but duly reported. Our darling premier promptly buried the report and has happily chipped away at public health care ever since. Who needs facts when they don't support your policies?

-- Tricia the Canuck (, June 26, 2002.

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