Not tonight dahling, I have an election
February 20, 2008 | 05:20 PM
There are some things I'm told, you just don't do during an election — something along the lines of what some hockey players refrain from during the playoffs. One of them is don't bite the hand that feeds you.
Or in more plain language don't criticize the Conservative government — unless of course, you happen to be an outspoken, brash CEO of the Calgary Health Region. Such is not the way in Edmonton.
You'll remember the PCs kicked off their campaign in the boardroom of Capital Health in Edmonton. When I asked CEO Sheila Weatherill why Capital Health was hosting a political party, she ran back to her boardroom.
Today I asked the health region's Steve Buick about funding shortfalls in the region. Yes, he said there is a funding backlog but it doesn't matter.
"How much?" I pressed.
After some humming and hawing, the answer was more than $30 million but less than $85 million. Gee thanks.
"Not during an election" he cautioned. "I won't go there during an election."
Huh? I then asked if I could sit in on their three daily meetings where the "bed" managers decide which operations they can handle, and which ones would be cancelled. Again, the refrain was "Not during an election."
So here we have quite a difference. In Calgary, the health region wants to bring attention to problems in the system; in Edmonton, however, they're trying to hide them.
In another example of "don't go there," feast your eyes on this e-mail from the deputy minister of children's services reminding staff to keep it buckled up so to speak.
From: Maria David-Evans
Sent: Mon 2/4/2008 4:42 PM
To: _CS- All Children's Services Staff
Subject: Guidelines for Political Activity
As the election process begins I would like to remind all staff of the restrictions on political activity contained in the Code of Conduct and Ethics for the Alberta Public Service. This can be found at http://www.chr.alberta.ca.
While staff are not restricted from working on Provincial election campaigns, any staff who wish to become involved with a campaign during normal working hours must either take an unpaid leave of absence or vacation leave during the election period. Approval to take this leave will be subject, of course, to operational requirements.
Acting Deputy Minister
Eve of leaders' debate
And finally, I'm looking forward to reading your questions again this evening, before drawing up my final list. Enjoy the debate everyone. You can watch or listen to it commercial-free on CBC-TV, radio and online starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.