Aglukkaq might as well be talking about car washes and kittens

We’ve noted several times the absence of Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq when it comes to media inquiries about issues within her jurisdiction.

Her performance in Parliament likely gives us a good illustration why.

The absence of a renewed Federal-Provincial health accord has raised considerable discussion over what the role of the federal government should be.

The 10-year 2004 accord set a number of national objectives for the provinces and federal government to work towards, the most prominent being wait times.

It is therefore reasonable for the opposition to ask questions when the Health Council of Canada — set up to monitor that accord — starts throwing up warning flags that achievements in reducing wait times are beginning to erode.

Responding to a question from NDP health critic Libby Davies, Aglukkaq cryptically responded that the problem was really two Quebec NDP MPs who were having trouble paying their back taxes.

“Our government is making record investments in health care, including new e-health initiatives I announced some time ago,” Aglukkaq told Parliament. “It is Canadians who pay those taxes. When members of the NDP caucus do not pay their taxes, it takes money away from services Canadians value, like health care. It is bad enough that they vote against health care investments, but now we know that some members of their caucus are not even paying their fair share of taxes.”

Aglukkaq might have well answered by talking about car washes and kittens for all the relevance her answer contained.

When Aglukkaq would rather score a partisan political point rather than answer a legitimate question about the role of the Federal government, it insults Canadians who are becoming increasingly worried about their ability to access timely care.

It’s unfortunate her spokesperson Steve Outhouse cannot also sit in Parliament for her. At least we might have a shot at something remotely coherent on the big issues of the day.

Tired of this nonsense? A number of groups are organizing a shadow summit and rally in Niagara-on-the-Lake July 24-25. The Ontario resort town is hosting the last meeting of the provincial Premiers before the 2004 health accord expires without any replacement. Over the two days there will be panel discussions and workshops addressing the questions Aglukkaq would rather not talk about. The event culminates in an 11 am rally outside the Premiers’ meeting on the 25th.

If you believe Canada deserves a national strategy on health, plan to meet us there!

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