(****Update: It appears the great Canwest spin machine is at work again. I woke up this morning to find a story in the Province online where the Liberal campaign manager for the candidate in the area suddenly feels the need to come forward and discredit the incident and the Paramedics claim to insult. http://www.theprovince.com/Striking+paramedics+claim+Campbell+insulted+them/1574478/story.html
Hey Liberal campaign manager, why can’t the premier speak for himself? Maybe something like ” Hey clearly I made a bad joke and it wasn’t meant to hurt anyones feelings. ” The point being that even though people laughed, this joke was done in poor taste and shows how the premier is not able to put himself in anyone elses position. It’s called empathy. Look it up. )
You read that right.
While in Vernon last week, Premier Gordon Campbell was addressed by peacefully striking paramedics who were outside of a BC Liberal Candidates office.
When asked how paramedics where supposed to feed their families, the premier tossed a loonie to one of the paramedics and said :
” Don’t spend it all in one place! ”
The paramedic responded with : ” Thanks a lot, that’s half an hour pay for me!” http://apbc.ca/preleases/20090501cupe.pdf
( paramedics currently only make $2 an hour for stand-by pay) The exchange was caught by a local radio station. ( of which I am trying to get a link or sound byte)
Now, health minister George Abbott is saying that it was all just a joke on the premiers part. http://apbc.ca/preleases/20090505cupe.pdf
In fact, although he didn’t actually see the loonie toss in question, according to this story in the Kelowna Daily Courier, George Abbott has this to say : ” “There was certainly no ill intent or ill will or disrespect that day. The premier was joking with the paramedic and it was obviously misconstrued or taken out of context or turned into something it wasn’t by the CUPE public relations people.”
B.C.’s 3500 Ambulance Paramedics have been striking since April 1st, and are the lowest paid emergency personnel in the province. During this election campaign, they’ve been showing up where ever the Premier is in an attempt to get a mediator appointed so they can get back to the bargaining table.
Now remember, these are the men and women who are sometimes performing the same duties as doctors in the ER. They have to do everything from delivering babies, to CPR to keep someone alive on the trip to hospital to roadside trauma medical care. They see things no one should or would want to see and they do it outside, in the rain and snow, and sometimes the only thanks they get is knowing they saved a life before they have to go and clean up their vehicle.
I’ve had a couple of occasions to be transported by ambulance over the years, once for a broken leg, once for burst ovarian cyst, and once to take my grandmother to the hospice house to die. Every single trip was made easier by the sensitive , competent and caring men who accompanied me, who took the time to not only make sure I was stable, but who also stroked my forehead to soothe me when they saw fear and pain in my eyes.In the case of transporting my grandmother, they were also friends and therapists. It’s not easy to take someone to die, who is awake and coherent and knowing all of that. But, when I had to turn away to stifle my tears, there was that strong hand once again, on mine, to soothe and comfort. And that, my friends, is worth more than any wage can compensate.
These men and women are making a pittance. They are understaffed and underpaid, and that’s a crime, considering how crucial they are to the residents of British Columbia.
For the premier to toss a loonie , which I do believe was intended as a joke, albeit a very bad one,is an insult to what these people do, and demonstrates his inability to relate to the average working person who struggles to make ends meet. ( see above: $2.00 an hour on standby)
At it’s best, it was a tasteless and badly conceived joke. At it’s worst, it demonstates incredibly poor judgement and disrespect to the men and women who face the worst situations, with their best efforts , everyday they go to work.
Being Premier might very well be a ” very big , big job”, but given his actions lately, “being Gordon Campbell ” seems all the more difficult.