EDITORIAL – The buck stops at the top in health-researcher firings

B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke. (Image: Ombudspersons’ Office)

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.

About Mel Rothenburger (6011 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – The buck stops at the top in health-researcher firings

  1. There is no accountability in politics worth mentioning. We all look at the events and comments from all parties and pretty much write them off as ‘politics’. And therein lies the problem. Just because you’re a politician shouldn’t give you a get out of jail free card when it comes to honesty and accountability. We need to start electing people who are honorable, rather than those who float to the top of the party’s cesspool. Turds float. Turn on the news any given night and you’ll see the proof of that.

  2. And another general thought comes to mind…BC is home to only 5 million people and one major urban center. Can you imagine if our political types had to manage certain much larger populations as it is the case elsewhere? Caos would sure ensure as never seen before!

  3. “There was no political interference in the dismissals.”
    Earlier on perhaps that was true but when the “file” got out in public why didn’t they took the time to re-analyze and make due changes accordingly?
    What is a government for?

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