The Great Anti-Canadian-Healthcare Fraudster Joins The Great American Healthcare Debate

You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning

      - Bob Dylan, "Positively 4th Street"

By now you've all probably heard of Shona Holmes, the Canadian woman featured in those TV ads that have been running all over American TV in recent weeks, the ones slamming Canada's healthcare system as some sort of nightmarish system from hell.

Well, the truth is now out and the fact is Shona Holmes never actually had a life-threatening brain tumor, as she's been claiming in those ads and interviews on American TV. Instead, according to the Mayo Clinic where she was treated, her "brain tumor" was actually a Rathke's Cleft Cyst on her pituitary gland and "Rathke's Cleft Cysts are not true tumors or neoplasms; instead they are benign cysts."

The real story, it seems, is that she was on a waiting list for treatment here in Canada for her non-life-threatening benign cyst, but didn't want to wait and therefore went to the States and paid for her own treatment instead. Quite a different story from the one presented in those ads: a story about how the Canadian system was going to just let her die because it's such a flawed, awful, dangerous system.

All this is from a great article by Julie Mason that appeared earlier this week in The Ottawa Citizen.


Sadly, CBC's main news program, "The National", covered this story a couple of nights ago, but somehow failed to mention (or perhaps even research enough to find out?) that Shona Holmes never actually had any life-threatening brain tumor - obviously the most important part of her story.

A Right-Wing Ad Campaign

Watch the ad here and listen as Holmes states that "I survived a brain tumor, but if I relied on my government for healthcare I'd be dead". This is simply not true. And Holmes, it should be noted, is not just some naive flake being used by a right-wing group to help spread their anti-healthcare reform message, she's actually an activist herself, one who has been all over the American media airwaves giving interviews and spreading lies, half-truths and slander about Canada's healthcare system.

Now there's no doubt that the wait times in this country can be unacceptable (and, since her cyst was starting to cause vision problems, Holmes definitely should not have had to wait months to see a specialist), but if someone wants to criticize our system they should do it without lying. The simple truth is that if a person has a life-threatening tumor in Canada they will be treated and not, as Holmes states, left to die.

A Fraud

Shona Holmes, it seems, is a fraud! And why she'd want to see nearly 50 million Americans left completely uninsured simply because she was unhappy with her treatment in Canada is beyond me.

Tellingly, if you listen to her talk she doesn't really seem to have much, or any, concern for the uninsured. Being wealthy enough to travel down to the Mayo Clinic for $97,000 private treatment, she seems to only be concerned with people like herself, those with money. The uninsured 50 million be damned.

Obama's Plan

Holmes' stated aim in appearing in these ads and interviews is to persuade Americans to stick with their current system and reject Obama's plan to cover everyone (a mighty flawed, non-single-payer system, I might add, but at least a noble attempt to finally cover everyone with some form of insurance).

This current system that Holmes so passionately wants America to retain is of course the very same horrifically unjust one - the only one in the industrialized world that doesn't cover all of its citizens - that the majority of Americans have wanted replaced for years.

Does Shona Holmes really think that millions of American children are better off with no medical insurance than with a system like that in Canada, no matter how much she may find it lacking?

Is she really that insensitive? Stupid? Self-absorbed?

Or does she, perhaps just like being on TV a lot?

Whatever the case, she sure comes across as a villain in all of this. A petty villain perhaps, but a villain nonetheless. Not so much to Canada and the Canadian healthcare system she's so intent on smearing with her less-than-honest tale of woe, but more so to the American public who she's hoping to condemn to the appalling status quo they presently call a healthcare system... and the rest of the world calls a joke.

Yes, yes, of course if you're wealthy and/or you're lucky enough to have an insurance policy that actually covers you when you most need it (rather than challenges your claim and/or denies you certain treatments) then you will undoubtedly get some good care. But, seriously, who wants to live in a system in which losing your job also means losing your healthcare, as so many Americans have been finding out over the past year? Nearly 50 million without any coverage whatsoever and tens of millions more with inadequate, partial and/or tentative coverage at best. You call that a modern just society?

"The Best System In The World"

Americans always want to believe they are the best at everything in the world and when it comes to certain things perhaps they are, but when it comes to their healthcare system the fact is they're the laughing stock of the world.

The rest of the industrialized world long, long ago accepted the basic truth that any modern, just and civilized society unequivocally must provide two fundamental things to all of its citizens: universal primary and secondary education and universal healthcare. Yet some 60 years onward America is still attempting to claw its way into the 1950s. That is, 60 years after everyone else America is still attempting to give all of its citizens these two most basic and fundamental of human rights.

And if people like Shona Holmes have their wish they never will.

Check out Julie Mason's article here:

A reality check on a reality check: For years, Canadians have feared the American health care system; now Americans are being told to fear ours

And for another excellent article on healthcare reform in America try this quite personal recent piece by Ted Kennedy:

"The Cause of My Life"

Then there's this excellent piece by Roger J. Newell, an American who spent years living under both the "socialized" British and "free market" American systems and his take on both:

American health care: the view from expatriate who came home

Finally, check out this piece by David Sirota about how the wealthy in America (including certain Democrats who Sirota calls "Land Rover Liberals") are doing all they can to defeat universal healthcare, at least as long as it involves them having to pay even a few thousand dollars more in taxes each year from their hoard of millions and/or billions:

One Percenters Enjoy Unprecedented Protection

Let's just hope America ignores the scaremongering of the likes of Shona Holmes and the greed and selfishness of so many of its own ultra-wealthy and decides to finally join the ranks of truly civilized nations.

Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Saturday, July 25th, 2009



Here's an older piece on this topic, which also serves as a review of Michael Moore's great film Sicko:


The Tale of Two Sickos Rant 'n' Rave (Michael Moore, Grandpa and the Glorious Soapdown)


Now check out these other recent political rants:


Canada: Top Ten Things To Love and Hate


A Narcissistic Sociopathic Cult-Running Ultra-Conservative Child-Diddling Crusader For Christ


The War On Terror Charade: 14-Year-Old Terrorists and The Fight For Western Civilization


Freedom Denied! Are We Happy Now: The Crushing of Sri Lanka's Tamils


Nothing To Fear But Truth Itself: Criminalizing Criticism of Israel


For more on American politics visit the Politics: America page


For more on Canadian politics visit the Politics: Canada page


And for lots more on politics of all types visit the Politics Homepage


MikesAndDislikes Home

Article link broken

The link to the Julie Mason article doesn't work anymore. See these articles instead:


Reality Check on Shona Holmes: Holmes' "Brain Tumour" was Actually a Rathke's Cleft Cyst on Her Pituitary Gland


Canadians health-care critics star in U.S. debate over Obama reforms

The Great Betrayers

Norway had their Quisling, the US of A had their Benedict Arnold.. and Canada, our Holmes?


The debate surrounding healthcare reform in the US gives us a chance to witness some of the most colossally ignorant behavior ever to emanate from a supposedly civilized and democratic nation. Obama's proposed reforms are cautious, to put it mildly. Yet to gauge things by the rhetoric of his detractors, you would think he was ushering in some sort of neo-Communist regieme: "Round up the guns! Euthanize everyone over the age of 68! Etc!"


So it was bound to happen.. a partisan and sensationalist US media hungry for the next sound-bite, and eager to fuel this farcical "debate," found in one Canadian woman an all-too-complicit poster child for Victims of the Failed Socialist Healthcare Experiment Up North. Yes, if not Shona Holmes, then who? But it is Holmes we see all over YouTube now, so be it: Let it never be said that a Canadian wouldn't speak up to decry ineptitude and short-comings in our public institutions. Gods know, our healthcare is well worth a little pride, and even more so our continued scrutiny and diligence.. each of us. Every level of government in this country has been telling us for years we can't afford health, we need to cut back, we need "realistic expectations." Who doesn't have a personal experience (wait times), who hasn't felt impotent anger over the poor treatment of a loved one, at least once as a result of healthcare inefficiencies?


Is Canada's system of universal healthcare perfect? No! But it's a model worth preserving, and if we let it fail then shame on us. In the meantime, for those who would shill for the US networks, thanks for nothing.. or, for one thing, rather: "Quit trying to Holmes me." It's not every day we get to coin a phrase.


Mike M

Another 25 comments

There are another 25 comments posted in response to this piece on The Georgia Straight's site here

US Health "Care" is a GAS

I'm Canadian but lived in the US for 5 years. We had some of the best medical coverage you could get in the States as I was working for a major entertainment company at the time. Even WITH the best medical coverage we still paid $800.00 a month for coverage and STILL had out of pocket fees. One of which (the birth of our Daughter) cost us an additional $10,000.00.


Here's the best comparison I can make between the Canadian and American health care system. One night my wife was having severe stomach pains so we went to our hospitals emergency room. As we checked in and gave them our BlueCross insurance card we were taken into a private room, with a television. Others in the waiting room looked to be in much worse shape... but we had great coverage so to the front of the line we went. During our 4 hour stay my wife was given almost every imaginable test, blood work, etc... the breadth and accessibility was awesome to behold. We felt well served and looked after. After the four hours, when they had found nothing... they handed my wife a few GAS-X pills and sent her home. That turned out to do the trick... she had GAS. In Canada... the FIRST thing they would have done would have been to give her the gas pills... REGARDLESS of coverage etc. No waste, no preferential treatment... JUST the care that is needed for that ailment. The US system is FOR PROFIT not FOR HEALTH. That's why every hospital has an ultrasound, that's why you can get anything you want done if you can afford it. Does it make it better... no, it is MORE wasteful and people who really need care are, at times, left to DIE in waiting rooms while others... like my wife, who have Insurance that can absorb the excessive testing for PROFIT, sit in a private room for four hours waiting for gas pills. I'll take wait times over greed any day.

An American living in Canada

I am an American who has been living in Canada for the past 5 years. The medical care I get here is of the same quality or better than what I had with good insurance plans in the US, and it's a whole lot cheaper. Wait times are about the same. Best of all, I don't have to keep working year after year at a job I hate with people I hate simply because it's the only way to get health insurance since I have a pre-existing condition. I recently left my original employer and struck out on my own to follow a longtime dream I could never follow in the US primarily because of my need for health insurance. Canadians don't know how lucky they are.


As to that "free" care you get in the US if you turn up in extremis at the emergency rooms? It's not free. Someone has to pay and the hospital will try to make sure it's you. Sure, you can avoid paying if you don't mind losing your credit rating, and very young people without much to lose sometimes do that. But those of us who have accumulated property and reputation can't.




I feel lied to by the insurance companies. If I can't trust giant pay-for-compassion corporations, who can I trust?

Served its purpose

Unfortunately, this lie has already served its purpose. After a lie has been revealed as such, it perpetuates long after the fact. It's a slimy tactic used by politicians that happens to work. Look at how many people still believe Iraq had WMD's.

We have an awesome system in Canada

My sister had viral encephalitis (she didn't get chicken pox as a kid and got them as an adult from her children) and she WOULD have died if the hospital hadn't given her a drug that cost over $10k.


Thing is, they weren't even sure she HAD viral encephalitis, they had to wait for the spinal tap test to come back.They gave it to her anyways. No line up, no hummin and hawing.


Thanks to the awesome system we have in Canada, my sister is alive, healthy and one of only a few survivors who doesn't have significant brain damage.

Urgent health care

You should understand that people who need urgent care in Canada need not be worried. There is no "need" to go to any other country for common procedures as well as some progressive treatment. One can spend their money elsewhere if they are impatient. Cosmetic procedures are not "covered" by public insurance.


I know from personal experience that health care in Canada is based upon need above financial capability. When I was diagnosed with kidney disease, my ability to work became very compromised and I became very poor, suddenly. I spent four years in excellent dialysis facilities where each night I "spent" about $600.00, x 3 sessions/week including drugs. When I fortunately became a kidney recipient, I went into the hospital with a night bag and that is all. I underwent six hours of surgery and a few weeks of recovery in this outstanding facility. I estimate that the surgery and drugs cost about $70,000.00. I was able to meet all my needs including shaving gear and newspapers without spending a single dollar. I am now in excellent health and take approximately $1200.00 of anti-rejection and other drugs each month, which are entirely covered by my provincial (Ontario) drug plan. All of my doctors' visits and traveling expenses are also "covered" under my plan. I have never paid for transportation including ambulances and a helicopter if needed from my rural home to the near city. I do not pay a single penny out of my own money for any of this. I do understand, of course, that a part of my taxes from decades of work contribute to the mass of finances that pay for me and many others to enjoy good strong health.


The doctors are attentive and dedicated. The waiting lists have never affected me in any way. I am very happy with the health-care system in Canada, and so is nearly everyone I know or speak to. We do not worry about taking care of health issues, be they minor or major ones. I must admit, we could use more doctors as the present generation retires, but that is being resolved. I am concerned about people in your country who most likely need a good public health policy, and deny the opportunity because they are mis-informed. That is a tragedy for them.


Thanks for addressing this important issue on your blog.

Healthcare in Canada

Thank you Mike for posting this information.

I saw this ad on american television one night, and was stunned! Something in me knew that this was fabricated, but I had no idea to what extent. I work as a medical educator with doctors in Toronto and am well versed in many issues regarding our system. I am aware of both strengths and weaknesses, and I can tell you honestly, the strengths FAR outweigh the weaknesses!

We are fortunate to have the system we have, and might I add, we are equally fortunate to have the doctors. In my 10 years of working with doctors and specialists in the healthcare system in Ontario, I have met some of the most responsible, caring, political people I know. Of course there are always exceptions. However, the doctors I have met who work as advocates, not only for their patients, but for poor, disenfranchised people in Canada, as well as for changes to our system that further support all people, are truly remarkable people.

It is very unfortunate that Shona Holmes has chosen, for whatever reason, to offer herself up as a token case for the american right. And to fabricate in such a way discredits her story to such a degree that it makes her personal story irrelevant to me. Sorry Shona, no tears here!


Toronto, Ontario

Shes Baaaaaaaak!

Now it's 2012, and we're a couple of months away from our presidential election. The same patient is being trotted out on Florida's airways, with the same lie about a "brain tumor." If Canada's health care is so bad, can't they find ONE other patient with a bad outcome to prostitute themselves on the air?

Health care is better in Canada. Period.

I'm a dual citizen who has had previous care in the US from an HMO (Kaiser) through a job, and now that I live in Canada, I use the wonderful single-payer system that covers everybody in the country. The flaws in the Canadian system stem largely from issues of adequate funding; but even in Canada, there are people like this Shona Holmes person who would love to starve the system, then blame any resulting problems on the inherent nature of "socialized medicine" -- uh, sorry, I mean universal health coverage. Such people are liars.


There was a lot of opposition to the Canadian system when it was first proposed, but now it's considered a basic human right. I think that will happen in the US too.


Last year I had a major operation in Canada on my cervical spine. All my care was excellent, timely, and I didn't have to worry about whether I could afford it or how I'd pay for it. In peace of mind alone, that's worth a few extra tax dollars!


The US public has been scared by buzzwords such as socialism and the fear that the government will choose their doctors for them. Not true. Unfortunately, Barack Obama and Congress have to take into account the enormous power of the insurance companies, the real dictators of inadequate health care in the US, because they are major contributors to political campaigns, and because they would lose a lot of business under a tax-funded single-payer system. Given the way they like to improve their profit margins by denying needed care even to people who've been paying premiums, I think they've worn out their welcome.


The facts are clear: single-payer health care, for all its problems, is a hell of a lot better than what the US has now. All protestations to the contrary are bullshit. The US has now started to rejoin the civilized world, so keep the pressure on, folks. It's time.