The pub was busy with the summer crowd. I love this time of year when I don’t have to worry about socks and sweaters, pants and jackets. This is T-shirts, shorts and sandals weather. Except we have local water restrictions and wild fires in the province.
After my walk along the shore I half emptied the cool refreshing pint that Vicky sat down in front of me the moment I sat down. Camp was late, which was usually good news since this meant customers in the book store. He finally arrived and like me downed half his pint. These are thirsty days. ‘What’s on your mind these days? Plenty of things to worry about I take it.,’ Camp said.
There are three things that scare me Camp,’ I said.
‘What are those? Old age, incontinency, losing your mind?’
‘Are you familiar with the Magna Carta?’ Camp asked me when we were comfortable settled at our usual table at our favorite seaside pub.
‘You mean the English Common Law from the Middle Ages? I’m superficially familiar with the term. What gives?’
‘A friend handed me a printout the other day pertaining to this charter of liberties of which the English barons convinced King John – yes, the one of Robin Hood fame – to give his assent to this document in June 1215 in Runnymede, along the river Thames in Surrey, about 20 miles west of London.’
‘Ok, why is it called the Magna Carta?’
‘It means ‘Great Charter’ and it was mainly composed by Cardinal Stephen Langdon as part of a mediation agreement for peace between Pope Innocent III and King John. But the Pope was infuriated by the arrogant behavior of the 25 barons who enshrined the Magna Carta into law and he annulled the Charter which he deemed a threat to his authority.’
‘Power and Politics?’
‘Yes, the usual I guess but the charter stands up through the ages while that Pope is long gone.
‘Ok, so how does it compare to our Charter of Rights?’
‘Emergency rooms are closing; paramedics are struggling to answer 911 calls and hospitals all over the country are stretched to the limit. We can’t just blame Covid for all that can we?’ I wanted to hear Camp’s opinion on this issue.
‘The pandemic just highlighted what we’ve known for years. Not enough physicians, nurses and hospital personnel, underpaid care workers, immigrant doctors not able to get their Canadian license, family doctors a dying breed. Exasperating all of this? The same driving factors as in the worker’s shortage: Aging population, boomer retirement, not enough training and a lack of incentives for rural doctors and nurses.’
‘I read about a desperate senior – one of nearly one million people in BC without a family doctor – who took out an ad to find one. That got the attention of the premier who quipped he might do the same in order to get the federal government’s attention, which is woefully underfunding the provinces.’