Michael Moore's new film SiCKO praises the government-run health care systems of such countries as Canada. Moore claims the film was warmly received at Cannes by Americans from both sides of the political aisle.
Canadian journalists, however, were a little more skeptical. Here's how Peter Howell, a film critic for the Toronto Star, described their response to SiCKO:
Michael Moore is handing out fake bandages to promote his new film Sicko, an exposé of the failings of the U.S. health care system. But he may feel like applying a couple to himself after the mauling he received yesterday from several Canadian journalists – present company included – following the film's first viewing at the Cannes Film Festival.
"You Canadians! You used to be so funny!" an exasperated Moore said at a press conference in the Palais des Festivals. "You gave us all our best comedians. When did you turn so dark?"
We Canucks were taking issue with the large liberties Sicko takes with the facts, with its lavish praise for Canada's government-funded medicare system compared with America's for-profit alternative.
While justifiably demonstrating the evils of an American system where dollars are the major determinant of the quality of medicare care a person receives, and where restoring a severed finger could cost an American $60,000 compared to nothing at all for a Canadian, Sicko makes it seem as if Canada's socialized medicine is flawless and that Canadians are satisfied with the status quo...
Other Canadian journalists spoke of the long wait times Canadians face for health care, much longer than the few minutes Moore suggests in Sicko. Moore, who has come under considerable fire for factual inaccuracies in his films, parried back with more questionable claims...
Sicko, to be released in North America on June 29, is by turns enlightening and manipulative, humorous and maudlin. It makes many valid and urgent points about the crisis of U.S. health care, but they are blunted by Moore's habit of playing fast and loose with the facts. Whether it's a case of the end justifying the means will ultimately be for individual viewers to decide.
On June 21 -- the day after the D.C. premiere of SiCKO -- the Cato Institute will help viewers decide when it hosts a screening of clips from SiCKO and short films by independent filmmakers who are more critical of Canada's Medicare system. Click here to pre-register. And arrive early: seating is limited.