Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Now It's All Politics

I find the complaints about "the politics of it all" coming from Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq a bit amusing, given the history and her targets:
The federal health minister scolded opposition critics today for calling a special summer meeting to discuss how she plans to deal with the swine flu pandemic in the coming months.

"I'm disappointed with the politics of it all," Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said at a news conference in Ottawa today after outlining how she has shared information with critics.

Liberal health critic Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's) was the MP who decided to call the summer meeting with the support of New Democrat health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North) and Liberal MPs Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra) and Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North).

MPs on the committee will first have to vote whether to hold the meeting but that will be a formality as witnesses have already been lined up to testify this afternoon.

Bennett said she plans to focus her questions on the responsiveness of the federal government to the pandemic and also how it expects to roll out the immunization program this fall.

I'm actually quite "disappointed" that Aglukkaq is now reverting to Conservative "speak", redirecting any discussion into a partisan attack. Seems to me, when we're talking about pandemics and what not, maybe, just maybe a break from the summer holidays isn't such a bad idea, particularly with the clock ticking.

As a matter of fact, Aglukkaq's comments are even more "disappointing" when one considers the classy and gracious, almost exceptional praise she's received from her political rivals. A rare sight indeed, opposition members giving credit to a Minister, when they could have made cheap points instead (sort of like what Aglukkaq is doing now). Maybe a refresher of the MP's in question:

Yet even a Liberal was applauding Stephen Harper's choice of Leona Aglukkaq for the portfolio this week. `I love her` said Liberal MP and public health critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett.

`She's really smart, she knows how government works, she knows how to get things done.`

Carolyn Bennett on Aglukkaq's early handling of the swine flu:

But rather than earning scorn from her political opponents for ducking for cover, Aglukkaq is receiving praise.

"I think she's done a terrific job," said Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal health critic and herself a doctor.

"Politics is politics and public health is public health. I'm really impressed that she knows where that line is."

New Democrat health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis after the initial swine flu outbreak:

"For a rookie minister, she's on top of this file and she's responded very effectively," said Wasylycia-Leis. "She's probably one of the better rookie MPs in the House."

I think Canadians want to know what the government is doing, and if they are so on top of the file, then this should provide a high profile opportunity to gain our confidence. I also think the two MP's in question, who are now suddenly partisan operatives, should be given the benefit of doubt from the Minister, considering they've given her a politically unnecessary pass in the past. What's changed? Aglukkaq had a chance to read the Conservative "playbook" this summer, that's what's changed.


Cam on the same theme.


ottlib said...


The consensus amongst health officials all over the Western World is this strain of influenza will be back in the Fall. The government better be able to show that they are ahead of the curve on this one because this kind of thing will scare the bejeepers out of people.

The government could have taken this meeting as an opportunity to show Canadians just that. Instead, they go to their default setting and go all partisan making it all about that instead of the preparations.

So, when this virus hits with renewed vigor this Fall and Winter, and the government will be under the gun from everybody on whether they sufficiently prepared for it, they will look back at this week as a missed opportunity.

Jerry Prager said...

The government is getting ready to ream everyone who disagrees with them.

Steve V said...

"The government could have taken this meeting as an opportunity to show Canadians just that."

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

Steve V said...


Their stance here is obnoxious, given that we are talking weeks before this flu is supposed to return with a vengence. It's actually irresponsible to not meet prior to the FALL return of Parliament. This looming issues doesn't warrant a "special" meeting? Amazing.

JimmE said...

Just returned from the USA; at one time I would return from America thinking I had made the right choice by choosing CANADA as the country I called home.
Now I leave a nation that is drinking some kind of crazy Kool-aid returning to one I can't shake the same embarrassing vibe I had back in the USA during the Regan years.
When did Canada become such an embarrassment?
Anyone know what its really like to live in France?

Steve V said...

Welcome home ;)