What One Person Can Do

Originally published by the West Coast Libertarian Foundation  in the newsletter of the Greater Vancouver Libertarian Association in April 1981.

On March 21 Peterborough Libertarian activist Sally Hayes addressed the second meeting of the Libertarian Supper Club of Vancouver. Twenty-six guests listened to Mrs. Hayes’ discussion of the role of the individual in libertarian activism. She pointed out that one person can in fact have considerable influence on political events.

She mentioned her personal indignation at Senator Edward Kennedy’s proposal of a Medicare program for the US and the way he cited Canada as an example of how Medicare has worked successfully. Ever since the introduction of Medicare in Ontario, Sally has been keeping a file of newspaper clippings on its effects on the state of health care in the province.

She noted that over 90% of the population had private insurance before the introduction of Medicare. The post-Medicare situation resulted in bureaucratic tangles, an exodus of doctors from the province, and a deterioration in the quality of medical care. The Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) created so much dissatisfaction among Ontario doctors that a considerable number have opted out of the program.

To counter Kennedy’s allegations she wrote a letter to the editor of every major newspaper in the US refuting the claims of the Senator using her collected documentation.Many newspapers published her letter and the Colorado Medical Association reprinted her letter in a brochure entitled “The Truth from Canada”, copies of which were placed in the waiting rooms of most doctors’ offices in the state.

This brochure was published shortly before a visit by Senator Kennedy to Colorado to promote his plans. Needless. to say, he was not well-received.

She also related how her husband, John Hayes, addressed a Peterborough city council meeting and persuaded the council to refuse to subsidize a local artist to the tune of $5000. He threatened to withhold his business taxes if such a grant was made.

Perhaps the best example of effective action by an individual was Mrs. Hayes’ battles with the Metric Commissars. Peterborough was one of the three test centers for metrication several years ago. The local reaction to forced metrication was unfavorable and she took the time to document the expenses involved in the program and to launch an effective movement to stop compulsory metrication.

Operation HUMBUG (Help Undo Metrication -Bug your MP) was instrumental in convincing Peterborough MP Bill Domm and former Minster of Small Business Ron Huntington to become outspoken critics of the program.

Metrication has effectively been delayed two years as a result of HUMBUG’s efforts. 1982 is now slated as a target date for metrication in 37 cities across Canada. But Sally Hayes has not quit yet.  Her organization continues to grow and will not cease until compulsory metrication is stopped and the Metric Commission abolished.

Her talk inspired her listeners to realize that speaking out on issues is not merely crying in the wilderness. Sally Hayes is an excellent example of what one person can do.