According to Wikipedia, “ ‘Mistakes were made’ is an expression that is commonly used as a rhetorical device, whereby a speaker acknowledges that a situation was handled poorly or inappropriately but seeks to evade any direct admission or accusation of responsibility by using the passive voice.”
So far, Alberta Health Minister Ron Liepert and Premier Ed Stelmach have not used the phrase “Mistakes were made,” but they sure have tried to duck responsibility for mishandling the H1N1 vaccination rollout.
Believe it or not, Liepert says it was not a mistake to vaccinate everyone who showed up at clinics during the first week of the campaign, rather than just those who are considered high risk.
“I will not accept the word ‘mistake’,” the health minister stated.
Meanwhile, a headline in Maclean’s magazine says it all: “Alberta health minister lets province’s top doc (Dr. Andre Corriveau, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health) take the blame for H1N1 fiasco.”
The publication correctly notes: “No province has done a poorer job of communicating and organizing its H1N1 vaccination clinics than Alberta.”
But apparently no one in the provincial government, least of all the health minister or premier, is willing to accept any responsibility.
We can only hope the Conservative party’s annual general meeting in Red Deer at the end of this week, where Stelmach will face a mandatory secret-ballot review of his leadership, turns into a referendum on his handling of the flu crisis.
If we still had Ralph Klein as premier, he might of made the same mistakes, but at least he would have eventually “manned up,” accepted the blame and apologized.
The reputations of Alberta’s health minister and premier are tanking over this fiasco.
There’s no question Liberal health critic David Swann has a lot more credibility than Liepert and Stelmach, when it comes to commenting on the H1N1 crisis.
Swann is at least a medical doctor. Liepert, on the other hand, has a background in broadcasting, public relations and economic development.
Wikipedia notes that Liepert left school in Grade 11 but later attend the Columbia School of Broadcasting.
So what does Swann have to say about the Conservatives’ handling of the H1N1 fiasco?
“(Liepert) clearly is over his head,” Swann correctly observes. “He cannot be trusted to manage our health-care system.”
No doubt, Swann is trying to score some points with voters, but he’s not wrong in suggesting that Liepert should either resign or be fired.
Lives are on the line. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, H1N1 has already killed 95 Canadians.
The buck has to stop at Liepert and Stelmach.
If they aren’t responsible, then who is?
Surely not the health-care workers who are doing their best to administer the vaccine within a screwed-up system.
Surely not ordinary Albertans, who simply want timely access to immunization.
Liepert should accept responsibility for the chaos that is occurring under his watch and give up his position to someone more capable. And if he won’t, then Stelmach should sack him.
Albertans are sick of seeing the words “fiasco” and “chaos” in newspaper and Internet headlines concerning health care in this province.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.