An ArmchairMayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE HEADLINES Thursday about the Ombudsperson’s report on health ministry firings sounded pretty clear.
“Ombudsperson finds government decisions harmed 8 fired health ministry workers” (CBC).
“B.C. government wrong to fire health researchers, says ombudsperson” (Vancouver Sun).
“Government was wrong to fire health researchers” (Vancouver 24 Hours).
And so on. If you’re just tuning in, the report was the result of an investigation into the firings of eight public health researchers in 2012, one of whom later committed suicide. The report clears the employees of any blame.
The timing of the report has been the subject of speculation for quite some time. Would it be released in time to play a part in the election?
Turns out it was, and politics instantly entered the picture. The government quickly offered the apology called for in the report.
But NDP leader John Horgan noted that the statement from the government didn’t come from Premier Christy Clark herself, but from her office. “…She has flatly refused to take responsibility for the real damage her government has done to people.”
Andrew Weaver of the Green Party was a little more reserved, saying, “It is essential that the government take steps to remedy the egregious problems that led to this being able to happen. As Ombudsperson Jay Chalke has explained, we need to change the way in which the public service manages investigations and dismissals.”
No question the B.C. Liberals don’t come out of it looking good. There is a sentence in Chalke’s overview of the findings, however, that is important to note: “There was no political interference in the dismissals.”
The Liberals, of course, will take the heat regardless. The civil servants who messed up were working for them.
When then-U.S. President Harry S. Truman put a sign on his desk saying, “The buck stops here,” he meant that whatever happened on his watch was his responsibility. There was nowhere else to pass the buck once it hit his desk.
Premier Christy Clark and her government are being reminded of that fact right now.