Health Care Inquiry: Choice Of First Witness Becomes Clear

I received a few emails in response to my last article in which I pondered a hypothetical list of witnesses for the upcoming inquiry into allegations of queue-jumping in Alberta’s flawed health care system.

In it, I speculated on having several speakers take the stand, from Stephen Duckett to Gary Mar. I also considered Government officials past and present as well as Alberta Health Services administration and auxiliary staff.

Then I received a most curious response: a single web link and a page number. No words, just the link. Usually I would just ignore such a submission, but I gave in to my curiosity and followed the lead.

As it turned out, my curiosity was more than fulfilled. Here’s what I discovered as I found myself on the Alberta Health Services website:

It turns out Lynn Redford, Alison Redford’s sister, is Vice President of Community Relations for the Alberta Health Services.

This, of course, led me to do a little more digging. I found many unsubstantiated leads including information that Lynn Redford was at one time Gary Mar’s assistant when he held the Health portfolio.

Focusing on the queue-jumping angle, I continued my search.

Lo-and-behold, there in Hansard from April 8, 2009 during a discussion on Bill 7: The Public Health Amendment Act was this curious exchange:

April 8 2009

Bill 7
Public Health Amendment Act, 2009
[Adjourned debate March 17: Dr. Swann]
The Acting Speaker: The hon. Member for Calgary-Varsity.

Mr. Chase: …
One of the concerns that I have brought up before and that occurs, if not on a daily basis, certainly on a weekly basis within my constituency is who you’re going to report to. When a constituent comes to me with regard to a health-related problem and access to the health system or support from the government for a malady, be it gastroparesis, which I have brought up prior, or whether it be receiving a particular type of cancer treatment which involves chemical combinations which have been approved for other types of cancer fighting within the province but not necessarily in the chemical combination, I used to be able to address my concerns to a lady whose name, I believe, was Lynn Redford.
Mr. Liepert: You still can.

Mr. Chase: I’m pleased to hear from the minister that that local autonomy still exists because this was one of my concerns. Possibly the minister can pass on the name of the most recent contact so that I can inform my constituents. I’m pleased to hear that local authority and local autonomy. . .

Mr. Liepert: Same one. Same one.

Mr. Chase: Oh. Okay. I’d heard that Lynn’s position had changed, so I’m glad to hear that in this particular, limited experience I am wrong. I appreciate the hon. minister recognizing the talents of this lady. She is an absolutely wonderful front-line individual. We could call and within two hours we would get directed.

Mr. Liepert: Good blood lines from the Attorney General (Alison Redford).

Mr. Chase: Oh, is that right? I hadn’t realized. That goes to testify to the great quality of the blood lines that are there.
The concern, as I say – and I appreciate the minister for correcting my concern here or redirecting it.

However, I look forward to the minister attempting to explain to me, as he did in the case of Lynn Redford, any other efficiencies and autonomies local authorities have kept. We may not have health regions, but according to the minister, we still have regional responsiveness. So I would look forward to the minister providing more information, and if not in this second reading stage, then providing those assurances during the Committee of the Whole stage. I do appreciate the information he provided so quickly, which did offer me a degree of reassurance.

Thank you very much.

What does this prove? That is for the inquiry to answer, and that is the point. The only thing for certain is that it doesn’t look good. It adds to the growing list of ‘bad optics’ situations by which this government seems to have a proclivity.

The reality is that this raises a plethora of new questions.

In an inquiry, the stated purpose may be to find out if there has been any malfeasance. But as history has shown, an inquiry usually happens after it has already been generally accepted that there are issues to be dealt with, thus the need for an inquiry. The evident purpose has seemed always to lay blame.

When it comes to queue-jumping, doctor intimidation, etc., the public is already of the opinion that these problems exist in Alberta. There have been more than enough examples to believe they exist.

So then the question becomes, who gets the blame?

In this case, one would assume the finger must be pointed at either Alison Redford’s government or at Lynn Redford’s Alberta Health Services.

Certainly, the last thing our premier wants is to have her own sister take the stand and, under oath in a public hearing, open a door where any skeletons may be hiding.

But given that Lynn Redford has possibly been privy to valuable information unknown by the public at large and given that she is a Vice President with Alberta Health Services, and given the fact that she is our premier’s sister, she is the obvious first choice to give testimony at the inquiry.

We don’t know what Lynn Redford knows, but if the inquiry is to gain any credibility with the Alberta voting public, she must be called to speak.

1 comment:

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