1ShareThe Mounties want to talk to Stephen Duckett.
They get a letter Wednesday from Brian Mason, leader of the NDP and an Edmonton MLA who pulls no punches.
Mason asks for a police investigation into allegations bigwigs, including politicians, bureaucrats and those prominent in society and business, used their pull to jump the queue to get medical care.
Mason believes queue jumping by an MLA or through an MLA is a breach of public trust and that’s against the Criminal Code. You can get up to five years in the joint.
The RCMP are trying to determine if there are grounds to go further.
Sgt. Patrick Webb says they’ve got to talk to Mason now and “for certain” speak to Duckett, currently a professor at the University of Alberta.
Webb says they need “to go to the person who made the comments in the first place.”
And Webb assures this columnist the cops aren’t taking this matter lightly.
“If there is any basis to the allegations, we’ll take it further,” he says.
“If there isn’t, there may be other avenues.”
Duckett is, of course, the ousted one-time boss of Alberta Health Services.
The man who made us look at cookie eating in a whole new way reveals in a recent speech how he was told “some of my predecessor CEOs had designated go-to guys for discreet waiting list adjustments on request from MLAs, a practice I discontinued.”
Let’s repeat that. MLAs asking known go-to fixers to push them or their pals up medical waiting lists.
Then we see a memo from ‘09 where Duckett tells health care senior execs any requests for “preferential or expedited care” be sent to him. So obviously there were such requests.
An attached page explains what shouldn’t need explaining.
Providing preferential treatment is queue jumping. It “delays or otherwise adversely affects the care of other persons awaiting or requiring care.” It implies individuals aren’t entitled to equal treatment.
It creates a “conflict of interest” and an “ethical dilemma.” No kidding.
A public health care outfit can’t support or defend it.
After that memo, the Calgary Flames scored their H1N1 shots and two people from Alberta Health Services walked the plank for what a Health Quality Council of Alberta report said “was their role in what was perceived as a facilitation of queue jumping by the Calgary Flames.”
But, lo and behold, the health council probe was “not able to learn any of the facts pertaining to the firing.”
Alberta Health Services circled the wagons and no one involved was forced to testify.
Speaking of circling the wagons, the provincial Tories do the usual denials, then shoot the messenger, then, if necessary, do the minimum to get critics off their back.
Forty years in power and you get banana republic-style government. They do what they please.
Of course, if you dare to utter a word of opposition you are cast as a dung disturber.
Alison Redford, the former Tory justice minister and now running for leader of that party, wants a judicial inquiry into the queue jumping charges. It ain’t happening and in his comments Exiting Ed tosses her in with Raj Sherman.
Dr. Raj was the emergency room doc who served as right-hand man to the health minister. He got booted from the Tory fold for making waves and then found himself accused of being a little nuts.
Redford is also lumped in with David Eggen who is an NDP candidate and big-time supporter of medicare. Ed mercifully stops short of calling Eggen a godless socialist.
Oh well. It’s very interesting Duckett’s recent remarks hit many marks on the Tory dartboard.
He says there was “little bureaucratic oversight” of the health regions and Calgary and Edmonton regions were “very politically connected and powerful.”
“End runs to politicians on budget matters were the order of the day.”
Lots of the public’s cash was spent on public relations B.S. as in “spin, the Orwellian game of assuring the population they had the best health system in Canada if not the world.”
In reality, compared to other provinces, Alberta spends more per head on health without providing quicker access or better results. By the way, in the last decade, Duckett confirms performance in emergency departments has tanked.
We also have a government 40 years in the saddle with over-investment in rural areas to keep it that way.
Mason is happy he didn’t get the bum’s rush. He says the thought of some well-connected sort using political muscle to cut in line makes his blood boil.
At times, he has to shake his head.
“This would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.”