Through the 1980s, Canadians generally continued to support publicly funded medical and hospital services as a social good. But advocates of privatization were voicing their concern that lack of funding was undermining the quality of care and compelling doctors to leave the country. With the gradual federal withdrawal from active supervision of national standards, the battle lines were drawn between the supporters of public and of private health services. Conflict erupted during the election of 1988 when the key plank of the government’s platform was ratification of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Since medicare was viewed as one of the key differences between Canada and its southern neighbour, Mel Hurtig, Maude Barlow and other concerned activists mounted a vocal campaign to warn voters about the dangers of opening Canadian social services to the private sector. Their efforts did not sway voters in Western Canada and Quebec, with the result that the Conservatives were returned to power, but with a smaller majority.