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EDITORIAL – Dr. Bonnie Henry seriously needs to rethink her leadership style

Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Image: Govt of BC)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHEN I SUGGESTED recently it might be time for Dr. Bonnie Henry to take a break from being the voice and face of B.C.’s COVID-19 response, it wasn’t exactly greeted with agreement.

Dr. Henry is still regarded by many as being above criticism. Well, I’m going to risk being critical again.

It’s about her inconsistency and lack of clarity. The latest has to do with Christmas travel.
Specifically, about Dr. Peter Berman, director of the school of public health at the University of B.C. Berman decided to take a trip to Hawaii, then fess up afterwards.

Asked what she thought about it, the best Dr. Henry could muster was to say, “I’m not gonna comment on whether it was right or wrong or good or bad.”

Considering her declarations about the need to stay close to home, this is pretty disappointing. She’s repeatedly said such travel is wrong, and bad, but backs off when faced with specific examples. UBC, Berman’s employer, has been equally unwilling to sanction him.

As CFJC’s James Peters commented in his Friday editorial, Henry shouldn’t let him off the hook but he went a bit easy on her.

And there’s more — businesses are still shaking their heads over Henry’s last-minute decision to shut down New Year’s Eve toasting at 8 p.m.

It wasn’t the decision itself, but the one-day notice without consultation that got the restaurant industry so riled. And, of course, there’s the ongoing spotty transparency on where the virus is showing up.

But back to the travel issue. Berman’s Hawaiian vacay starkly contrasts with the 200-km. trip to a family cabin taken by former Castlegar mayor Bruno Tassone. “Former,” because Tassone resigned over it effective on Saturday.

So, a small-town politician loses his job over a short road trip while a big-city health bureaucrat gets away with flying off to Hawaii, and the province’s health officer has little to say about it.

That’s not leadership.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (8481 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – Dr. Bonnie Henry seriously needs to rethink her leadership style

  1. I have yet to see or hear the science behind social distance or wearing a face mask…..I think she is a soft spoken mouthpiece for “big Pharma” just saying!

  2. I think Bonnie Henry is a very nice person and a dedicated person. She does not want to be a leader but only wants to direct all of us to do the right thing. Loke you and I Mel she ain’t always right, but she gives it her very best shot.As for Mr Berman, basically he,s a bullshit artist and should resign his position or be fired.

  3. Beverley Campbell // January 11, 2021 at 10:02 AM // Reply

    could not agree more.

    On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 4:07 AM ArmchairMayor.ca wrote:

    > Mel Rothenburger posted: ” An editorial by Mel Rothenburger. WHEN I > SUGGESTED recently it might be time for Dr. Bonnie Henry to take a break > from being the voice and face of B.C.’s COVID-19 response, it wasn’t > exactly greeted with agreement. Dr. Henry is still regarded by” >

    • I agree with Beverly Campbell. Anyone who says they were unsure of the rules surrounding travel over the Christmas Break are either mentally challenged or are liars. With Mr. Berman I suspect that he may suffer from both.
      I find that people who do not agree with the rules being laid down are the ones who profess to not understand them. If we want inconsistency, confusion, bull shit and lack of knowledge, we could bring Dr. Tam over to brief us. Then we would be confused and angered.,

  4. To be fair. Dr Henry has repeatedly said that we should not shame people. Shaming, blaming and stigmatizing might feel good and make a great news story, but it makes people think twice about doing the right thing. The UBC head of public health should be ashamed of himself, and perhaps he should resign, but that’s not on Dr Henry. And yes, I agree that our data reporting and consistency could be a bit better, but the proof is in the pudding; even with all the challenges here, our outcomes so far have been better than most other places, so I really hope Dr Henry continues to lead us. She shouldn’t step down as there is a good chance her successor would not be able to manage this pandemic as well as she has.

  5. Doesn’t she see the seriousness of the infringements and deleterious consequences of such? We all know it helps to have “connections” but heaven forbids people, if you don’t have the ethics at least be smart about it.

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