Some Readers Are More Enthusiastic than Others

Thanks to readers for another year of thoughtful feedback.

An article in January urged the government to begin immediately on plans to implement compensation enhancements for family physicians when the current contract expires in March, 2019. Recommendations included more pay and paying doctors for more things: emails and updating electronic patient records.

The government did that and more. They implemented a trial program ahead of schedule in March, adding incentives for taking on new patients and updating software.

A family physician provided an insightful challenge to the assertion that “walk-in clinics provide an important alternative access to care.” She argues that those patients are often seen again by the family physician, or the emergency department, and that the walk-in clinics drain resources from regular family practice.

Another physician wrote to endorse the potential of the MyHealthNS electronic record system—of which he had been an early adopter, despite the lack of pay.

An article in support of resource industries included a serious error of fact in claiming that resources industries do not ask for handouts. The paper mills clearly have.

It and a follow-up acknowledging the error attracted a torrent of distinctly unsupportive comments: “your recent article… screams of an ignorance set in the destructive unsustainable 1700s.” “Obviously Mr. Black you still have blind eyes, deaf ears and a closed mind to reality.” “Your commentary about aquaculture… is the most irresponsible, uninformed, misrepresentation of reality that I have ever read.”

And the gold medal goes to: “Normally, I am able to dismiss the recurrent pontifications offered by Bill Black for what they are: the parochial musings of yet another aging, privileged white male. You know, that niche of our society which has overwhelmingly directed social, economic and political policy in this province since its founding; tedious and past expiry, really.”

The authors quoted above objected to being called shrill.

There were some contrary views: “Thank you for the balanced viewpoint. Organized society requires compromise as you have aptly explained. The far left and far right promote their views by bullying and those in the middle keep quiet for fear of criticism.” “Today’s article… so much reflects my own thinking.”

A writer who has been a vigorous (but not shrill) opponent of my views on aquaculture was nevertheless enthusiastic about the article on tourism: “Your column should be required reading for every decision-maker and interested stakeholder in the entire Province of Nova Scotia. I cannot offer a higher recommendation!!!”

An article that explored the difference between thoroughly vetted refugees from uninvited asylum seekers received warm support: “Thanks for the great column today. Should be mandatory reading—very clear and concise presentation of a generally misunderstood Canadian problem.”

On the other hand, an article about carbon pricing failed to make its point with at least one reader: “So Bill Black thinks Ottawa’s carbon plan does too little to be effective but too much to be painless…”

That was not the intent. I am concerned that the program is inadequate as an effort to reduce carbon emissions, and not concerned that it causes too much pain.

An opinion writer aspires to receive comments such as: “I’d like to thank you for your comprehensive and well-researched article this past weekend on the difficulty in accessing primary care. While people might debate some of your conclusions, your background information is spot on.”

And “Though I often read your column in the Chronicle Herald, our opinions usually differ. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to find we were in agreement when you argued for a strong and effective regulatory environment…”

As illustrated above, some of my articles were undeserving of praise, either because the text was not well-crafted or, worse, it contained factual errors.

Comments of all kinds are always welcome, even the over-the-top abusive ones—they are always worth a giggle.

Merry Christmas.


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