04 June 2009

Anger, personified

The raw scrum video, via cbc.ca/nl of the response by Premier Danny Williams to an ongoing story at Eastern Health.  There’s also the full cbc.ca/nl online story on the ongoing controversy.  If that doesn’t work, try another link here:   http://tiny.cc/TEJTJ.

CBC news obtained documents through the province’s access to information laws that shed more detail on the release of information in early April related to the ongoing breast cancer testing issue.

Officials  - especially communications vice-president Jennifer Guy - at Eastern health,  New Democratic Party leader Lorraine Michael, all on the receiving end of the Premier’s anger including an accusation of  political opportunism on the part of the NDP leader. 

This is radically different from anything ever fired at people like Stephen Harper.  There’s none of the characteristic hyperbole, for instance.  You can feel the anger coming clearly through the audio portion. Eastern health chief executive Louise Jones held a newser later in the day;  that isn’t available online yet.

Williams recently criticised the province’s access laws for bogging down government officials with “frivolous” requests and used that an excuse for failing to deliver whistleblower protection legislation in the first session after the 2007 general election as Williams promised.

In a scrum with reporters last Friday, Williams also claimed there was not much experience globally with whistleblower protection laws

He also accused an unnamed witness at the Cameron inquiry into the breast cancer scandal of being motivated at least in part by a personal vendetta. Williams said someone “came on pretty strongly” and decided “to have a crack at government after they did not get their own way’ on employment for a relative with government.

Political opportunism by opposition leaders is not an unusual phenomenon in Newfoundland in Labrador, by the way:

“We told them it was only print-sharing and that there was no threat but, regardless of that, they did take the action they did,” he said.

“What happened wasn’t a breach. Their staff, we believe, knew it wasn’t a breach.”

The action referred to there by a police officer was a public accusation a Liberal political staffer had attempted to hack into the opposition Progressive Conservative computer system.

The story broke in early February 2002:

"The premier's office knew right away that this had happened and, in my opinion, they've acknowledged that a political staffer has interfered with our (computer) system," Conservative Leader Danny Williams said Friday.

"That's very serious stuff."

The language from then opposition leader Williams was strong and, as it seems people in his office knew at the time their version of the story was nothing that would warrant the over-the-top language their boss used:

"Here we have a political staffer trying to break into our computers," Mr. Williams added. "It's very disconcerting to us. There's strategic information in our offices."  [“Liberal tried to hack our computers, Tories say: Newfoundland probe”, National Post Richard Foot, Saturday, February 9, 2002]

or from a Telegram story headlined “Tories sweep offices for bugs”:

"An attempt at access is just as serious as access - no different than attempted robbery is as serious as robbery itself," said Williams, who is a lawyer.

"From our perspective, we're treating it as a very, very serious matter."