ROUNDTABLE ROUNDUP  Martha Hall Findlay speaks with community leaders about issues facing the Columbia Valley on Monday, February 25th. Photo by Dan Walton

ROUNDTABLE ROUNDUP Martha Hall Findlay speaks with community leaders about issues facing the Columbia Valley on Monday, February 25th. Photo by Dan Walton

By Dan Walton, Pioneer Staff

Local business people and elected officials were joined by Liberal hopeful Martha Hall Findlay at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce during the early hours of Monday, February 25th.

Ms. Hall Findlay is in the midst of facing off against well-known Liberals such as Justin Trudeau and Marc Garneau in the federal leadership race. At her appearance in Invermere on Monday, the issue of healthcare arose, to which Ms. Hall Findlay made bold suggestions about a sensitive subject.

We shouldnt be so afraid of the word private, in the context of greater private delivery within the public system, she said.

The Liberal hopeful anticipates greater value in components of healthcare privatization, but firmly believes in free delivery.

In order to save what I think is hugely important is a universal access, publicly funded single-tier system. [But] we need to be a lot smarter in how we deliver it because we just cant keep up financially with changing demographics and increases in technology.

She cited a private Toronto clinic as an example, which specializes in dealing with hernias.

If you need a hernia operation, you dont go in with a credit card, its completely public funded access. Theyre really, really good at it, theyre efficient, and they do it fast.

Ms. Hall Findlays proposed changes would introduce no added cost for healthcare recipients, but healthcare providers would be given incentives to offer greater service.

As business people we know that a little bit of competition is not a bad thing; it actually inspires a certain level of efficiency, and with the appropriate parameters, I think it could be a really good thing to see within the medical system.

As those in attendance were given chances to ask anything, provincial Liberal hopeful for the Columbia-Revelstoke riding, Doug Clovechok, asked Ms. Hall Findlay her opinion on the contentious issue of pipeline construction in British Columbia.

Im an absolute advocate of getting access to the west coast, she said. I absolutely understand the whole issue of price differential because we only have one customer.

While shes in support of west coast trade access, Ms. Hall Findlay is open to the most ideal solution.

There are some really interesting analyses in terms of rail through Alaska as a possibility. So I think those all need to be looked at, but I also advocated looking at these at the discussion about possibly going west to east -theyre not mutually exclusive, she said, after mentioning the various possible pipeline routes through B.C.

Previous leadership races have always required a paid membership to vote. However, the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada will be determined by any Canadian who registers online and votes (at no cost) by Sunday, March 3rd.

Ms. Hall Findlay was adamant about encouraging participation in electing the next federal Liberal leader.

You dont have to join the Liberal party to vote, she said. You sign in as a supporter, its free, so no excuses.

Preferential voting begins on April 6th, and results will be announced on April 14th. Registering to vote can be done online through .