Duckett done after cookie showdown with reporters

Red Deer’s Gord Bontje quits board over decision

Gord Bontje, former member of the Alberta Health Services board, resigned Wednesday in the wake of ousted CEO Stephen Duckett’s cookie debacle.

Bontje, one of three board members to quit, didn’t agree with the decision of the board to let Duckett go.

“I don’t think Albertans are served well with Dr. Duckett being fired at this time,” said Bontje. “It’s the job of the board of directors to stay above the noise and to make rational decisions based on facts. The fact is the health needs of Albertans are best served by Dr. Duckett staying in his position.”

Bontje added he believes Duckett made positive headway with the health needs of the province.

“I do recognize Dr. Duckett behaved very badly to a number of reporters,” he said. “He has communication issues and that’s partly the fault of the organization and the government chose to be a spokesperson on many occasions.”

Duckett is heading back to Australia after being removed over the recent face-off with Edmonton reporters while munching a cookie.

A statement from AHS on Wednesday said Duckett and the board “jointly agreed that now is the time to move on. The decision is effective immediately.”

The cookie debacle took place Nov. 19 when Duckett kept refusing to answer reporters’ questions about health concerns because he said he was eating his cookie.

Video of his exchange with reporters has been watched almost 200,000 times on YouTube.

“I personally found the comments inappropriate and they began to stand in the way of our need to move forward with the things Albertans really want to know,” said Gene Zwozdesky, minister of health.

Duckett was hired by the province in 2009. Dr. Chris Eagle, executive vice president of Quality and Service Improvement, has been named acting CEO.

Premier Ed Stelmach said the board’s decision regarding Duckett reflected Albertans’ views, “especially the many I’ve heard from.”

Stelmach had said earlier this week in the legislature that he had found the comments “offensive.”

David Swann, Alberta Liberal leader, says Duckett needed to go but that his failings were a symptom of the Stelmach administration’s mismanagement of public health care.

“Stephen Duckett’s actions on Friday were inexcusable, but let’s not let a viral video distract us from the real problem,” he said. “Ed Stelmach, Ron Liepert, Gene Zwozdesky – these men are truly responsible for the emergency room crisis.”

Swann offered support to Eagle, but cautioned Albertans the system is “broken” and replacing one man can’t address the causes of the emergency room crisis.

“I hope Dr. Eagle can make some good interim decisions, but we need a far more comprehensive overhaul of the way health care is handled.”

Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Alliance, said Duckett was being used as a scapegoat to cover up the failings of the Alberta Health Services board.

“This government will soon find out you can’t replace one central planner with another central planner and expect the situation to improve. Health care delivery must be decentralized for Albertans to get the care they need,” she said.

“Decisions about health care delivery must be made on the ground in local hospitals by professionals, not by a single health czar at the top of a bureaucratic chain of command.”

Brian Mason, Alberta NDP leader, said Duckett’s cookie comments sounded like he was telling Albertans to ‘Let them eat cake’.

“The real issue here is the ongoing disregard shown by the Tory government and health system leadership toward patients and frontline staff,” he said. “We need mature leadership of our health system. The Tories have failed to keep Albertans in the loop, failed to listen to ER doctors’ pleas for years. It’s time they change their ways.”

Just Posted

Accused Jason Klaus testifies in triple-homicide trial in Red Deer

Klaus charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of arson

Red Deer County team honoured for aid in Waterton Fires

Red Deer County Protective Services a huge help to RCMP

Two arrested at Red Deer Rebels hockey game

Red Deer woman charged for allegedly striking police officer

WATCH: Helping those less fortunate at Christmas

Red Deer comes together to spread joy at Christmas Wish Breakfast

WATCH: Red Deerians come together to ‘light the night’

Traditional Red Deer Lights the Night sees thousands

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Cost to fix Phoenix pay system to surpass $540 million: auditor general

Michael Ferguson’s review hints the entire system should be scrapped

UPDATE: CBS fires Charlie Rose following allegations

Charlie Rose is the latest public figure to be accused with sexual misconduct allegations

LGBTQ advocates want military, RCMP to take part in apology

“These are all the organizations that perpetrated past discrimination against the LGBTQ community.”

Canadians are getting bad advice from the taxman

An auditor has found that Canadians are getting bad advice from the taxman, when they can get through

B.C. mining company stakes claim in Australia

Copper Mountain is set to purchase Cloncurry Copper Project in a $93-million deal.

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

Nebraska approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL route in a close vote

Most Read