ON THE SHELVES: The Globe & Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson releases Chronic Condition, a not-so-complimentary take on the Canadian health-care system

Globe and Mail national affairs columnist Jeffrey Simpson releases Chronic Condition, a passionate call to arms to save a Canadian health-care system he believes is increasingly unsustainable in its current form  BY RON CORBETT

Photography by Tony Fouhse.

Jeffrey Simpson walks into Mellos diner and orders tea. Which, as national affairs columnist for The Globe and Mail for nearly 30 years, is pretty much what you would expect him to drink. He looks the part too — parted hair as well defined as a national border, wire-rimmed glasses, pursed smile. At the age of 63, he still looks like the affable president of the best fraternity on campus.

And then he yells. It is a loud yell, too, nothing subtle about it, and although the diner is crowded and noisy, people turn to stare at us. Construction workers. Elderly retirees. Our waitress. You can see it in their eyes — I hope this guy isn’t going to be trouble. Simpson sees the people staring but doesn’t look at all embarrassed. In fact, dropping his voice just a notch, he leans across the table and repeats himself. “The one thing we can’t do is nothing.”

Simpson — known for his erudite discourses on Canadian politics, the man who makes self-deprecating jokes about liking provincial budgets so much that people are scared to accept his dinner invitations — is flashing some unexpected passion about his latest book.