Saturday, May 9, 2009

The barely visible Leona Aglukkaq

The H1N1 virus was the first time I've seen Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq quoted in the news since her appointment. For the most part she seems content to let her press secretary Josée Bellemare do her public speaking for her. I am not the only one to notice:

Rookie minister praised for quick, open response

Globe and Mail
OTTAWA — It is the first test for the rookie health minister: a flu, with early cases reported in Canada, that could evolve into the pandemic predicted by medical experts for so many years. Leona Aglukkaq has been one of the least visible cabinet ministers since her swearing-in last winter. She rarely gives interviews. She has made few national policy announcements. She has seemed content to let other ministers take the limelight.

So while I agree with the Globe and Mail that Leona Aglukkaq has been invisible, I fail to understand their interpretation that her behaviour is some how a cutesy/endearing/bashful/modest attempt to allow others to take the limelight. It's not cute at all. It's irresponsible, unaccountabile, and inept. She needs to step up and do her job and address the issues.

Allow me to give a few examples.

Ottawa leaves marijuana issue in limbo

The federal government is not saying when it is going to comply with a court ruling nearly 16 months ago that struck down a section of its regulations regarding the medical use of marijuana.The regulations restricted designated producers to growing cannabis for no more than a single approved user of marijuana.Federal Court Justice Barry Strayer ruled in January, 2008, that the restriction is "arbitrary," not "rationally related to legitimate state interests" and violates the principles of fundamental justice. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in Canada use marijuana for medical reasons, according to evidence presented in a case in British Columbia. Less than 20% of the nearly 3,000 people approved to smoke marijuana for medical reasons access it from the government-approved supplier, because of complaints about the quality."Our government is now looking at a range of legal options and will come forward with a policy response very soon," said Josee Bellemare.

Chief begs Ottawa for better health care
Another infant from Garden Hill is fighting for her life in a Winnipeg hospital under similar circumstances that contributed to the death last month of a six-month-old baby from the northern reserve.The incident occurred less than a month after six-month-old Chace Barkman died of meningitis. His parents were sent home from the nursing station repeatedly with instructions to treat his fever with a cool bath and Tylenol. By the time he was finally medivaced to Winnipeg it was too late and he died eight days later, on March 27. On Tuesday, the parents of the year-old baby tried repeatedly to have their daughter seen by nurses at the nursing station in Garden Hill, but the overworked staff sent her home. Harper said he has repeatedly asked Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to visit Garden Hill and see for herself the poor state of health care delivery but the invitations have been ignored. He hoped to meet with her in Ottawa but instead met with Health Canada bureaucrats and Aglukkaq's chief of staff. Aglukkaq's spokeswoman, Josee Bellemare, said the government is committed to providing quality health care in Garden Hill.
"We are currently looking into Chief David Harper's concerns," she said.
She said Garden Hill has a new nursing station, built in 2004, which provides primary health care, public health and emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Toronto to host global meeting on fighting TB
...And the Inuit, their TB rate is 90 times higher The most recent numbers from Statistics Canada suggest at least 70 people died across Canada in 2004 of TB-related causes. Newly minted federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who hails from Nunavut, knows the issue all too well. "She does recognize that tuberculosis is a big problem," said her press secretary, Josee Bellemare.

Wakey wakey Ms. Aglukkaq. Do your job or resign and gve your job to Bellemare. And while we're at it let's give the Globe and Mail a shake too. Since when did it become their job to write government press releases instead of news?


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