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The Limits of Medicine in a Sick Society

Volume 46, Issue 4: July/August 2012

Medicare was born in conflict. The notorious Saskatchewan Doctors’ Strike aimed to abort it. That was 50 years ago. This issue of Dimension offers an historical perspective on that birth with an essay by Lorne Brown and Doug Taylor (who are preparing a book on the 50th anniversary of Medicare.) Ulli Diemer exposes “Ten Myths about Medicare,” and health economist Robert Chernomas discusses one of those myths in detail: the controversial sustainability question.

But this issue is about more than Medicare. It’s about the limits of medicine in an ailing and toxic society. Broadcaster and social commentator Jill Eisen writes about poverty and other social determinants of health. David R. Boyd, one of Canada’s leading experts in environmental law and policy, looks at the impact of environmental hazards on human health. Finally, Richard Barnet, himself a medical doctor, reflects on the radical views of Ivan Illich, who saw modern medicine as invading daily life in dangerous and disabling ways.

As the drama of the Québec students’ strike continues, we also address this historic struggle and the efforts of the Charest regime to suppress it in our editorial, “Québec: From Student Strike to Social Upsurge,” as well as in our Rising Youth column and the CD Paragraph.

John Ryan examines the forces involved in the bloody events in Syria in his forceful article about why Canada should not intervene. Historian Henry Heller analyses the political fallout of austerity policies in Europe. Andrea Levy’s column, “Pipeline to Perdition,” and Julie Guard’s article about Harper’s war on the unemployed contribute to CD’s coverage of Stephen Harper’s ongoing assault on Canadian institutions, social policies and regulatory framework.

Table of Contents


  • Regarding An Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend (Québec)
  • Québec: From Student Strike to Social Upsurge
  • Around the Left in 60 Days
  • How to Confront the Harper Majority?
  • Pipeline to Perdition
  • Labour and the Response to Austerity
  • Pro-Choice Resistance: The revolution continues

Open Arguments

  • The Extremes Grow Stronger: The Europe of bankers totters
  • The Syrian Saga: Why Canada should not intervene
  • Conservatives’ EI Reform is a Bad-Jobs Policy
  • The 2012 Alberta Election What Happened?
  • The Keralan Paradox
  • Nueva Espernaza [new hope]
  • Greening Warfare? Lockheed Martin’s sustainability agenda

The Limits of Medicare

All that’s Left

  • Of Portraits, Penises and Politics
  • Occupy This!
  • Jan Wong and What They Don’t Tell You in Journalism School

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