Painful Truth: Canada could eliminate cancer

Psst! Stephen Harper! Thomas Mulcair! Justin Trudeau! C’mere for a second. I’ve got an idea for all of you. Don’t worry, it’s non-partisan – but whoever actually goes for it might win a big chunk of votes.

Here it is: cancer stinks.

You know that? So why aren’t we doing something about it right now?

I’m serious.

Ah, you can point me to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Yes, a very worthy organization, which pours money into a wide variety of research projects. Its budget is hovering around $1 billion annually now. That’s not bad.

Of course, Canada’s gross domestic product is currently a hair over $1.9 trillion. Yeah, trillion with a T, a one with 12 zeroes.

Which means that in terms of health research in Canada, we’re putting one dollar out of every $1,900 into the pot, through the federal government. And that pot is then divided up for a variety of health projects.

Obviously, the government doesn’t have access to every dollar floating around in the economy. The total federal budget this year was $279.2 billion. So for health, the government spent 0.0035 per cent of the budget on health research.

That’s too low.

Now a digression for a moment, but don’t worry, this will make sense.

What is Canada known for? Hockey, yes, politeness, maybe sorta, definitely Mounties. We used to define ourselves by our U.N. Peacekeeping, but that has dwindled. We could use a bit of a rebranding. Something else to put on the ol’ international resume, some bragging rights to take into those G7 meetings.

How about we cure cancer?

This weekend, a few hundred folks will be walking around the track at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. It’s the same day as the Ride to

Survive, and week after the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and this fall the Cops for Cancer hit the road, right around the time of the Terry Fox Run. Canadians have an appetite for funding cancer research. We’ll walk, bike, run, wear our underwear outside of our clothes, bungee jump naked, do whatever it takes to get a few extra bucks.

So why not give the cancer research budget a bit of a boost? It’s possibly the only government program I can think of where you could announce, “We’ll spend a lot more money,” and it could get you votes.

In fact, let’s turn it into Canada’s Apollo Program.

In the mid 1960s, when the U.S. was trying to put humans on the moon, NASA soaked up 4.4 per cent of the entire government budget.

If we got just half of that, we’d have a $6.1-billion cancer-fighting effort. And trust me, all the Relay for Lifers and Terry Fox runners around the country aren’t going to stop while more money will help. We’ll top up that fund. Bet you we can get to $7 billion?

I am dead serious about this. Put the money out there. Offer the grants. Bring every brilliant scientist and grad student with a good idea to Canada. Get them to tackling the cancers, one after another: leukemia, lung cancer, brain tumours, bone cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer.

We’ll knock them over like dominoes. We’ll figure out cancer’s secrets and subvert it, zap it, drive it out.

There would be economic spin-offs for us, of course. A huge scientific dividend we can’t even predict, lower health care costs, people living longer.

But mostly, we should do it because it’s right, and because we can, and because you don’t achieve wonders without effort.

Just Posted

White stuff coats Langley in heaviest snowfall of the season

Langley residents have a day of snow to enjoy before the rain starts again.

Upcycling: possibilities endless for Langley artists using recovered items

Past winner enjoys taking garbage, and not recycling but upcycling it into something better.

Walnut Grove liquor store move turned down by council

For the second time since December, council has voted against the plan.

UPDATE: At least two hospitalized after plane leaves runway at Abbotsford Airport

Incident occurred around noon on Friday; Transport Canada investigating

VIDEO: Langley crews prepare for salting and plowing

With heavy snow expected, crews are working 24-hours until the weather system passes.

VIDEO: What you need to know today at the B.C. Games

B.C. Winter Games athletes work for gold in the last full day of competition

BCHL Today: Cowichan Caps play spoiler and Nanaimo wins 10th straight game

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Federal budget to unveil incentive for 5-week second parent leave: official

Goal behind the measure is to give parents more incentive to share child-rearing responsibilities

Notley says Alberta watching B.C. court bid closely, will get no free ride on it

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley ended the three-week ban on B.C. wine, calming the trade war

Trudeau ends troubled India trip in his comfort zone of hockey and youth

The players, 18-25, came to New Delhi from Ladakhi in northern India, as part of outreach program

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Kim Boutin named Canada’s flag bearer for closing ceremony

Two more medals for Canada, including the bronze in men’s hockey

Team Canada’s Dave Duncan apologizes after drunken joyride in Pyeongchang

Duncan, his wife Maja and Canadian technical coach William Raine detained by South Korean police

Heavy snowfall for Coquihalla

Kelowna - Snowfall is expected to continue on the highway until Sunday

Czechmate: Canada wins men’s Olympic hockey bronze

Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett scores twice as Canada beats Czech Republic 6-4

Most Read