Last night, as I handed out information in front of St. Paul’s, I met a lot of supportive people.
However, one man came up very close to me, at first I thought he had been drinking, and I started to back away but he grabbed both my wrists very tightly, holding my arms straight down, and said “You had better find a new activity in life”. He then went into St. Paul’s. It all happened very quickly. I didn’t smell any alcohol and I believe that he new exactly what he was doing. Later I noticed that I had a red mark on part of one wrist and broken skin.
I mention this because I think it is important that people understand the difficulties and risks that people face when they are peacefully and legally exercising their democratic rights in this country.
A woman came up to me and claimed that she worked in a hospital (not St. Paul’s) and said that everything was corrupt so why was I worried about the hospitals. I find it sad that someone, and I’m sure there are others, believes that everything in our society is corrupt. Have we really reached that stage? But, whether you believe that “everything” is corrupt or if you believe that just some things need to be fixed, rather than give up, is it not better to strive to change things?
She also said that I cannot change the world. I don’t think I’m trying to change the world, only a very small part of it. But on the other hand, yes I can change the world by doing something positive. I can do one small thing, even if it’s just raising awareness, and someone else can do one small thing and so on and change will occur.
One of the things that surprised me, when giving people my handouts in front of the Catholic hospitals, is the number of threats that I have received. I have not proposed blowing up the hospitals, I have not engaged in civil disobedience, instead I have legally exercised my democratic right to question and to inform people. Yet, I have received comments such as “Give them what they want or die”; a couple of times I was told that I am probably now in the hospitals records as a troublemaker and that I may be given a very difficult time if I go to the hospital; I have heard comments such as “I hope you never, ever have to use their services” (implying that if I do I will receive substandard or worse “care”). I have heard quite a number of variations on these threats. Will my health/life be in danger if I go to one of these hospitals? I don’t know. However, I do not intend to go to a Catholic hospital again for a number of reasons, nor will I ever again step foot in a Catholic church.
What concerns me is that not only should an individual expect to receive the same care as everyone else regardless of their beliefs, politics, religion, nationality or because they stand up for what is right, there should not even be a perception that a person would receive inferior care.
Of course, money will continue to be taken from my pocket to pay the wages of the hospital administrators and staff and otherwise support these hospitals.
I won’t describe the other abuses that have been heaped on me. But it is telling that these people support the medical/catholic system as is. I have obviously hit on a very, very sensitive nerve. I can only wonder why this topic is considered so sacrosanct that these people would do the things they do and say the things they say.
The other side of the coin are the people who have offered their support because they are concerned, even fearful, about who is receiving their personal information. And they agree that we have the right to know.
I have had a few people say to me that I shouldn’t be concerned with whom the hospital shares our information. After all, anyone can get all your personal information off the internet. Well, it appears this is not true. If it were, there would be no need to use methods such as buying the information from employees, as noted in the article below.
National Post, August 23, 2008, pg. A6 [bolding is mine]:
Personal and financial information is becoming just as attractive as cocaine and marijuana to Canada’s organized crime groups.
The problem of identity theft and fraud has become such a concern to police who investigate organized crime that it is the main focus of Criminal Intelligence Service Canada’s annual report. “As we move more and more to the Internet and the technology being used, the risks are increasing. A lot of the public are not very careful about their identity,” said Commissioner Elliott….
Inspector Roberty Chartrand of the Montreal police said investigators are noticing an increase of cases in which employees of companies and institutions are being tempted by the lure of easy money and selling large quantities of personal and financial information. “We’ve noticed over the past year that there are a lot of people involved in different companies who give information from the inside to organized crime members. It’s not necessarily on the street [level]. It’s more like companies, government, it’s almost everywhere,” said Insp. Chartrand, who is also head of Quebec’s criminal intelligence bureau. “It’s a pretty new phenomenon for us. It’s a nationwide problem. ”The people are not very careful about their identity”.
But a large part of the problem are the companies/organizations, such as hospitals, who demand information they do not need and who refuse you service if you do not provide it. Obviously, the more companies/organizations that have your personal information, whether you give it to them directly or it is given by companies/organizations such as hospitals, the greater the risk.
This is why we need to know with whom our information is being shared, how much is being shared and the circumstances. We need to monitor that our information is being shared appropriately and that the appropriate safeguards are in place.