The Washington Times - June 3, 2009, 01:29PM

The leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party Jack Layton linked the future of his country’s universal health care system to President Obama’s public health care program in a Washington speech Wednesday.

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Many conservative groups have pointed to Canada’s universal health care system as a reason to keep the American health care system in the private sector. Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s campaign, for example, launched an ad campaign last week featuring a Canadian woman named Shona Holmes who was diagnosed with brain tumor and says in the ad the only way she survived was by seeking treatment in America. 

Mr. Layton accused groups like this of “sowing the seeds of fear with myths and lies about Canadian health care” and said the futures of the two health care programs are dependent on each other in an address delivered at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“There is no doubt that strengthening of our system in Canada will be easier with public health care in the United States,” Mr. Layton said. “Just as Canada built a strong public health system through a united effort, and just as America must do the same, so too can we strengthen and reinforce the health of all of our citizen through partnership.”

When reached for comment Ms. Holmes quipped “The only partnership we have is a place for desperate Canadians to run.”

 Mr. Layton’s trip comes at the beginning of an aggressive effort to ramp up grassroots support for President Obama’s health care plan by Organizing for America. While in Washington, Mr. Layton met with Democrats on Capitol Hill as well as White House Communications Director Anita Dunn.

In the run-up to Mr. Layton’s visit, his party sought fundraising solicitations using an image of an economy-class plane ticket from Ottawa to Washington for the Canadian leader. In the bottom left corner it said: “SUPPORT OBAMA’S FIGHT FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. PROTECT MEDICARE BACK IN CANADA.”