Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Canadian anecdote lands on 2011 favorites list

Did one of Canada's provincial premiers come to Ohio for treatement, rather than trust the Canadian health system?
Did one of Canada's provincial premiers come to Ohio for treatement, rather than trust the Canadian health system?

Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder loves telling a good story.

With a legislative career in the Ohio House stretching back to 1968, Batchelder is well-known for his floor speeches peppered with political references and historical anecdotes from days long gone.

Therefore, it was no surprise that Batchelder’s initial speech as the 101st House Speaker on Jan. 3 tied together the Ohio legislative session of 1937-38, the Roman historian Titus Livy, a lunch meeting with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as well as the 1787 comments of Ben Franklin upon wrapping up the Constitutional Convention.

After describing the challenges facing Ohio, the Medina Republican’s speech took a sunny turn as he mentioned the medical services in Ohio "that are second to none." In illustrating this point, Batchelder mentioned that the king of Saudi Arabia as well as a top Canadian official had sought treatment in Ohio.

"The Canadian provincial prime minister came to Ohio for his medical treatment because of the delay in Canadian health care which would have endangered his life," Batchelder said. Beyond suggesting that Ohio medical treatment was first-class, Batchelder was also making a political point in suggesting that Canada’s universal health care system is second-rate.

While the Cleveland Clinic’s care for Saudi royalty is well-known, Batchelder’s Canadian anecdote caught us by surprise. It seemed to us that if one of Canada’s premiers (as the top provincial leaders are known) had come to Ohio for medical care that it would have been a big deal, but it just didn’t sound familiar. So we put on our PolitiFact hardhat, and began digging.

PolitiFact Ohio rated Batchelder's claim Pants on Fire. It became on of our favorites for the year.