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Posts Tagged ‘theresa oswald’

Maybe I can’t stay out of it. I have a big mouth, you see…

Lately the Manitoba Liberals have entered another exciting backstabbing phase, much like the last season of treachery that took place during the Elmwood By-Election and 2009 AGM. (Notice how I avoided “season of treason”? You’re welcome.)

One of the best things about Liberals is that we tend to be independent thinkers. That often results in the best ideas coming from the Liberals.

One of the worst things about Liberals is that we tend to be independent thinkers. That often results in people arguing in public and creating an impression that we can’t get alone with one another.

The NDP is successful because they know how to keep control. There are people in charge, and everyone else does what they’re told. That is why NDP policy conventions result in very little actual policy, since the real policies are decided by a small group of people beforehand and the less important people (known in the NDP charter as “members”) are generally ignored.

The Conservatives work in a slightly different way, but the result is the same. A small inner circle makes the calls, and everyone else follows orders. I’d guess around three of four people in Manitoba actually have any inkling as to whether or not Hugh is planning on privatizing Hydro; one of them may be Hugh, but I’m not sure on that.

I like that Liberals aren’t like this, that when you ask a Liberal to do something, they’re just as likely to argue with you about it than to just go and get it done. But this makes us bad at elections, since elections are about following a singular vision from start to finish while getting as many party volunteers to help out as possible.

Now we have a situation where we are fighting an election against two other major parties. One is tired and thinks “status quo” is working just fine for our sky-high crime rate and continued health care woes. The other is in my opinion about as trustworthy as the male enhancement e-mails I keep receiving for some odd and confidence-busting reason. But instead of seizing on opportunity, there are a good number of Liberals, some quite prominent, doing their best to mess up the chance to win new seats.

I understand that Anita Neville and friends are upset that one-time Liberal Gord Steeves decided to run for the Conservatives in Seine River. But strategically it makes no sense to support the NDP and a health minister who should have resigned years ago for her apparent indifference to a man’s death at HSC, no matter how personally offended they are by Mr. Steeves. (These endorsements are also an insult to the Liberal candidate for Seine River, Troy Osiname.) This is especially ridiculous considering that Gord Steeves has not changed; he is the same person he was five or ten years ago. Being angry at Gord Steeves switching sides due to opportunism is about as sensible as shaking your fist at the sun for setting at dusk, or cursing out your unneutered dog for humping your leg while you’re trying to watch The Amazing Race. It’s just the way things are. Anyone who believes that Gord Steeves was a Liberal due to deep ideological conviction must also believe that Wendy’s Baconator was created as a cure for the obesity epidemic.

Another story is the racial slurs being tossed around about Joe Chan in Logan. Now it’s not news to many political types that the NDP doesn’t like Joe, since Joe decided to exhibit some of that independent thinking that’s not well-received in orange-and-green-town. I don’t believe that the NDP orchestrated the letter, and I doubt that many people on the Liberal side believe that, either. For one thing, it doesn’t help the NDP, but it probably doesn’t do much for the Liberals, either. I think it just makes more people stay home on Election Day, and almost as importantly, makes potential volunteers for all parties wary of getting involved in politics.

For a party that the NDP and Conservatives love to dismiss, the Liberals are certainly getting some attention. I just wish the attention was a little more productive.

I’ve been mostly absent for much of the campaign due not just to being lazy and selfish, but for other reasons involving my work and personal life. But I’m helping out as much as I can now, working to make sure that the Liberal Voice is not silenced in this province. Because if we don’t have Liberals in Manitoba, we’re left with two parties that are practically allergic to critical thinking and new ideas. I don’t think there’s anything good about that.

There is an antique store that always has “close out” signs, as though he’s trying to clear out stock because he’s shutting down. Of course, this has been going on since the last millennium. I may or may not post occasional items on this blog between now and the year 3000.

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Not surprisingly, Bill Blaikie said today that he never had any intention of running for the leadership.  I didn’t think that he would want the job, and unless there is a significant “Draft Blaikie” campaign, Bill Blaikie is out of the race.

Greg Selinger seems to be hinting that he is going to run, which should make him the leadership candidate to beat.  However, it sounds like Gord Mackintosh is also considering a run, and he is also rumoured to have a strong team of supporters.

Rumours are circulating about Peter Bjornson also considering, while it’s still assumed that Steve Ashton is leaning towards running.  Theresa Oswald and Pat Martin are possibilities, but I believe it’s unlikely that either will run.  Nancy Allan is definitely out.

Doer has said that caucus will expect any leadership candidates to remove themselves as ministers, and that the legislative session from Sept 14th to Oct 8th will go forward.  The new leader will be chosen Oct 17th, but it’s not yet clear if Doer will remain as Premier until that date.

References:
Fall Session to go Ahead, Tom Brodbeck, Winnipeg Sun
New premier arrives Oct. 17, Bruce Owen and Larry Kusch, Winnipeg Free Press

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Once again, I find myself offended by the non-answers spouted by the Premier in the Legislature.  Once again, I wonder how a government that is so secretive and heavy-handed could be given three successive majorities.  But rather than complain about what Doer said this time that I found so disconcerting, I’m focusing my attention on a loftier issue.

Representative democracy is something special; it was devised at a time when direct democracy seemed impractical, and nowadays it still reigns despite the fact that direct democracy is theoretically possible with our modern appliances.  And this continued dominance of representative democracy is supposed to be a good thing.

Albert Camus spoke about democracy being maintained by people who know that they don’t know everything.  Jon Stewart said that he expected government to be better than him when he’s at his worst.  Representative democracy, represented by two houses federally and only one provincially, is supposed to be a way of letting cooler heads prevail in the everyday business of regulating our society.  It’s supposed to be a way to filter out the bad decisions made when emotions run high and we can’t seem to see past our own instant gratification.

In Manitoba, our government is run by one person.  His name is Gary Doer.  He also has his own party, which is called the New Democratic Party.  In this party, people get ahead when they’re friends and faithful servants of Gary Doer, while others are allowed to come to meetings, but are gently reminded that they shouldn’t expect to have any influence over anything.  Gary Doer has 35 MLAs who follow his instructions, which include not only how they vote, but also whether or not they can answer questions posed to them in the Legislature.

Greg Selinger is the Minister of Finance.  Because of an ongoing scandal, he is apparently no longer allowed to speak in the Legislative Assembly.  He is nominally responsible for the budget, which means that when Manitobans discover that the NDP budget isn’t balanced, isn’t properly servicing debt, and is risking the long-term viability of government finances, he will be held responsible.  Of course, he’s not REALLY responsible, since there only is one person running our government.

Dave Chomiak is the Minister of Justice, Attorney General, and Government House Leader.  He is also the human shield for Gary Doer.  When an unpopular decision needs to be made, or an unpopular statement needs to be delivered, it’s Mr. Chomiak who is given the task.  Many people are clamoring for Mr. Chomiak’s resignation.  I understand the sentiment, but I think that’s almost like blaming the waterboy if the Moose lose the series.  Remember, there only is one person running our government.

Theresa Oswald is the Minister of Health, and from past performance is obviously not in charge of Public Relations for Gary Doer’s party.  She has been charged with some big mistakes, and has handled the public outcry over those mistakes very poorly.  She has even been accused of orchestrating a cover-up of the details surrounding the death of Brian Sinclair.  A cover-up may have taken place, but that doesn’t mean that such a ploy would have come from the office of Ms. Oswald.  Keep in mind, there only is one person running our government.

When Bill Blaikie, a politician who is known all over Canada, decided to run in the Elmwood By-Election, it was decided that his election signs would have Gary Doer’s photo on them.  That makes sense; until such time as Mr. Doer retires, Mr. Blaikie is not going to be making any decisions for the people of Elmwood.  That is why he didn’t stay in the Gallery for the end of the debate on the Disraeli Freeway.  The one person who runs our government decided that he didn’t want to do anything with Disraeli, and Mr. Blaikie is following orders.

Don’t forget: in Manitoba, our government is run by one person.  His name is Gary Doer.

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Once again, I find myself offended by the non-answers spouted by the Premier in the Legislature. Once again, I wonder how a government that is so secretive and heavy-handed could be given three successive majorities. But rather than complain about what Doer said this time that I found so disconcerting, I’m focusing my attention on a loftier issue.

Representative democracy is something special; it was devised at a time when direct democracy seemed impractical, and nowadays it still reigns despite the fact that direct democracy is theoretically possible with our modern appliances. And this continued dominance of representative democracy is supposed to be a good thing.

Albert Camus spoke about democracy being maintained by people who know that they don’t know everything. Jon Stewart said that he expected government to be better than him when he’s at his worst. Representative democracy, represented by two houses federally and only one provincially, is supposed to be a way of letting cooler heads prevail in the everyday business of regulating our society. It’s supposed to be a way to filter out the bad decisions made when emotions run high and we can’t seem to see past our own instant gratification.

In Manitoba, our government is run by one person. His name is Gary Doer. He also has his own party, which is called the New Democratic Party. In this party, people get ahead when they’re friends and faithful servants of Gary Doer, while others are allowed to come to meetings, but are gently reminded that they shouldn’t expect to have any influence over anything. Gary Doer has 35 MLAs who follow his instructions, which include not only how they vote, but also whether or not they can answer questions posed to them in the Legislature.

Greg Selinger is the Minister of Finance. He is nominally responsible for the budget, which means that when Manitobans discover that the NDP budget isn’t balanced, isn’t properly servicing debt, and is risking the long-term viability of government finances, he will be held responsible. Of course, he’s not REALLY responsible, since there only is one person running our government.

Dave Chomiak is the Minister of Justice, Attorney General, and Government House Leader. He is also the human shield for Gary Doer. When an unpopular decision needs to be made, or an unpopular statement needs to be delivered, it’s Mr. Chomiak who is given the task. Many people are clamoring for Mr. Chomiak’s resignation. I understand the sentiment, but I think that’s almost like blaming the waterboy when the football team loses the championship game. Remember, there only is one person running our government.

Theresa Oswald is the Minister of Health, and from past performance is obviously not in charge of Public Relations for Gary Doer’s party. She has been charged with some big mistakes, and has handled the public outcry over those mistakes very poorly. She has even been accused of orchestrating a cover-up of the details surrounding the death of Brian Sinclair. A cover-up may have taken place, but that doesn’t mean that such a ploy would come from the office of Ms. Oswald. Keep in mind, there only is one person running our government.

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Related:

Progressive Winnipeg: “Sorry” isn’t good enough

PolicyFrog: Rising Star Becomes Falling Star

Dan Lett (Winnipeg Free Press): Government, WRHA show lack of accountability

Winnipeg Sun: Oswald should order release of review: Tory

My Left Nut: WRHA: Brown envelopes and manslaughter by gross neglect

TGCTS (Marty Gold): WRHA execs attempt at spin control backfires

First of all, I’d like to apologize for an earlier post where I gave the impression that the Premier, the Minister of Health and members of the WRHA executive had misled the public through inaccurate statements.  In truth, it seems they have been misleading the public through omission.

The WRHA, the Minister of Health, and now the Premier have adopted a new variant of the famous trickle-down theory; they have the information, and almost like magic some of it eventually trickles down to the lowly citizens and taxpayers.

At first, Brian Sinclair’s death was a mystery: how was it possible?  The WRHA and the government had a few droppings for us last autumn:

September 23rd, 2008:

“For reasons we can’t explain right now, he was never presented at the triage desk where we have triage nurses that assess someone’s clinical situation,” said Dr. Brock Wright, the head of the WRHA.

(source: CTV News)

“We know that the individual in question was not triaged at the Health Sciences Centre but rather was in a waiting room.”

(Premier Doer quoted in Manitoba Legislature Hansard)

September 24th, 2008:

Health Minister Theresa Oswald noted that the addition of reassessment nurses to emergency wards did not address the problem of people who don’t present themselves to the triage desk in an emergency room, as appears to have happenedin Sinclair’s case.

(source: CBC News)

Apparently, in September of 2008, before the video had been viewed, the story was that Mr. Sinclair “was never presented” at the triage desk.  This “CYA-speak” seems to indicate that Mr. Sinclair did not approach the desk.  It’s understandable that the WRHA believed this at the time based on interviews with staff.

Here’s the tickle-down that came after the internal investigation had been completed:

November 19th, 2008:

Sinclair was not assessed by a triage nurse and was not registered as a patient seeking care, so reassessment nurses didn’t know he was there for help, officials with the health authority said at the time.

(source: CBC News)

The assumption that most of the public had at this point was that the phrase “not assessed by a triage nurse” meant that Mr. Sinclair spent 34 hours at Health Sciences without interacting with a single person.  Of course, that’s not what happened.  And by this time, the WRHA executive and the Minister of Health knew that this was not what happened.  So they apparently changed their story.  It wasn’t that Mr. Sinclair hadn’t approached the desk, it was that he wasn’t seen by a triage nurse.

He was seen by someone else, a triage aide.

February 11th, 2009:

“The triage aide has no recollection of that encounter and the triage clipboard notes are not preserved,” he said,     adding, “I think the worst possible thing that could happen is for bits of information to come out… It’s very important we get this right.”

(source: Winnipeg Free Press)

So the truth was discovered sometime before November 19th, 2008 (reports have stated that the minister knew in October) and Dr. Brock Wright, Dr. Brian Postl, and Minister of Health Theresa Oswald changed their stories from “he was never presented at the triage desk” to “not assessed by a triage NURSE”.  This clever wordplay can also cover the reports of vomiting:

February 7th, 2009:

Balachandra said hospital security staff tried “many times” to get the attention of triage and “other staff” because Sinclair needed help. His investigation reviewed hospital security tapes and involved interviews with security staff.
[…]
“The security guards tried to talk to the hospital staff,” Balachandra said Friday. “But to no avail.”

(source: Winnipeg Free Press)

And the Premier’s response?

February 11th, 2009:

Doer spoke on the issue for the first time since those revelations [of the extent of Mr. Sinclair’s contact with HSC staff] were uncovered yesterday. He said he will not bow to McFadyen’s call to fire Oswald.

“That’s nothing new,” he said of demanding a minister’s head. “Resignations have been called for before.”

The Winnipeg Sun has made repeated interview requests for Doer since Sunday, with his chief spokesman declining each time, noting Doer already answered questions on the topic last fall. The premier only spoke with the Sun yesterday after a reporter waited for him outside a local radio outlet in which he was hosting a call-in show.

Doer refused to say when he became aware of the details of Sinclair’s last hours that have emerged publicly only over the past week. He also declined to say whether he’s seen a security tape that recorded those hours.

“You will be more aware of everything when it’s presented as evidence (at an upcoming inquest),” Doer said. “What happened, how that happened, I’ll let the judge decide that.

“I’m perfectly prepared to be accountable,” he said. “The big picture is that I fully acknowledge to the public that Brian Sinclair should not have died at the Health Sciences Centre.

“This was a preventable death and we’re very sorry it happened.”

(source: Winnipeg Sun)

I am pleased that Premier Doer is taking responsibility for this situation.  I’m not sure that we’re saying actual leadership, per se, as the Premier had to be ambushed in order to make a statement, but it’s better than nothing.

But the great NDP trickle-down experiment continues… the Premier will not say when he was informed that the WRHA’s initial statements were inaccurate.  This little mystery forces the public as a whole (and the opposition, and the bloggers, and the opposition-bloggers like me) to speculate.  Either:

a) the Minister of Health found out in October 2008 and did not tell the Premier (which is unacceptable and means that the minister should resign)

b) the Minister of Health informed the Premier within an acceptable timeframe (and before the WRHA investigation was completed in November 2008), and the Premier was a knowing participant in the WRHA and Ms. Oswald’s plan to omit important facts from the public despite their original statements being inaccurate.

Considering that the Premier is following the same course in his own omissions, I think the second possibility is more likely.  That is why I’m not as quick to blame the Minister of Health for the trickle-down.  I blame Ms. Oswald for the worst PR in recent Manitoba history:

February 5th, 2009:

Theresa Oswald says she was too busy on Wednesday to immediately discuss the bombshell revelation that surveillance tapes showed Brian Sinclair talking to someone at a triage desk, dismissing claims by the opposition Tories she was ducking the media.

“I just had meetings booked from dawn until dusk,” Oswald said yesterday afternoon. “Plus, it was important to review all the facts.”

(source: Winnipeg Sun)

February 10th, 2009:

Ms. Oswald anticipates the inquest will reveal, once and for all, what went wrong during the 34 hours Mr. Sinclair sat in the waiting room.

She also suggested that the inquest will find that one of the ER’s mistakes was kindness.

(source: Globe and Mail)

Bad PR aside, this information trickle-down is a strategy from Manitoba’s NDP government, led by Premier Doer.  The people of Manitoba are supposed to be content with occasional droppings of information whenever the government chooses.

When the inquest has concluded at some time in the future, it’s doubtful that this selective release of information will be mentioned.  It’s not really a part of what happened to Mr. Sinclair; it’s just a sign that unless we see big changes at the WRHA, this will all happen again.  And again.  And again.

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Dr. Jon Gerrard has posted an entry on his blog explaining why he feels that it is important for both Dr. Postl and Dr. Wright to resign:

Why I have called for the resignations of Dr. Brian Postl and Dr. Brock Wright

In addition, we now have word from the Minister of Health that she has known since October that Brian Sinclair had asked for help at the triage desk:

Minister sat on truth about ER death

Where is our Premier?  Does he have nothing to say on this embarrassment?  There is only one leader in the legislature who is actively pursuing this matter and making his opinions known day to day, and that’s Dr. Jon Gerrard.

Unfortunately, neither Hugh McFadyen or Tory Health Critic Myrna Driedger have made their responses available to the public.

And of course, as with all other complete failures by the NDP government of Manitoba, the Premier is staying as far away from the issue as possible.

Now that’s leadership.

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I read an interesting post at Endless Spin Cycle: Anatomy of a Manitoba “Scandal”

I think the big problem with the WRHA and the NDP government’s Health Care in general is that it’s been a long string of failures with few successes (most “successes” being the result of more money on equipment or health infrastructure without solving the real problems).

Continued hallway medicine, deaths at Concordia and HSC, medical contract payola, an ever-expanding bureaucracy, a Minister of Health who doesn’t seem to have a grasp of how to give even an appearance of concern…

Are any of these things enough to bring down the Doer government?  They haven’t been so far, despite continued press releases from the PC Party.

But the Manitoba Liberal Party is taking a different approach.  We have put forward legislation that would assure accountability in health care, and we’ll continue to pressure the Doer government to support it.  We are advocating for individuals who need health care and who are being marginalized by their government (and oftentimes ignored by their own local NDP MLA).  And we are working to come up with more improvements on our health care platform (which is already far ahead of the NDP and PC Party) that will continue to identify common sense solutions to our worsening health care crisis.

The time for the NDP to be able to throw money at health care without actually looking to solve the core issues is definitely coming to an end.  It’s time for the Doer government to start looking at the real problems, and all they need to do is start listening to the Manitoba Liberal Party and the concerns of Manitobans.

The Manitoba Liberal Party will continue to push for a truly accountable health care system, and I am very happy to be a part of the team.

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