The chief of Canada's Alberta Health Services is apparently less interested in explaining alleged health care flaws than in eating a cookie.
When reporters asked AHS president and CEO Stephen Duckett on Friday to respond to pointed criticism from a government health official, he repeatedly brushed them off, insisting he was instead "interested in eating my cookie." The reporters, from Canada's CTV, followed Duckett from a meeting, down a flight of stairs, along a sidewalk and across a street, as Duckett continually said he could not be bothered because he was eating a cookie. At one point he waved the cookie in a reporter's face.
"We have issued a media advisory that says the media is available to talk in about 30 minutes. Isn't is ridiculous that the media are not prepared to go to the media scrum?," Duckett said. "And I'm eating my cookie."
As Canada's Calgary Herald reported, Dr. Raj Sherman, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health and Wellness in Alberta, criticized AHS last week, saying it made "knucklehead" decisions, including closing beds at a mental health hospital.
Duckett's response to the criticism, many believe, lacked tact. Cancer patient Dawn Eres was incensed.
"I'm very, very angry," Eres told the Calgary Herald, referring to the cookie incident. "He's being flippant about the state of our health-care system when there are so many people out there begging to make ends meet.
Duckett apologized for the incident on his blog, saying the Friday meeting, to rethink emergency room wait times, was a "success." His subsequent interactions with reporters "overshadowed" that "progress," he says. Here's Duckett:
"Most regrettably, I did not convey what I deeply feel, which is the greatest respect for the difficult challenges our health care providers face every day, and their innumerable achievements, and what those challenges and achievements mean for our patients and their families."
WATCH the cookie fiasco below: