May. 4, 2020

The politicians must decide, not the bureaucrats

This is a quote from the National Post newspaper this morning:

“On Saturday, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said they are still looking at what measures need to be taken before reopening, and won’t be opening up barbers and hairstylists, and other industries where there is close contact until “we are all comfortable we have an appropriate plan to be able to do that safely for everybody involved.”

“We will not move forward with opening different sectors until we are ready, until we are sure that they have a plan that is workable, and make sure we have these plans and precautions in place,” she said.’

Excuse Me!

Dr. Henry, this is not your job! “We will not move forward with opening”. Ah? You are not the decision maker, you are an advisor. That is the job of the government of British Columbia (and the legislature), that is, the Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly, the elected representatives of the people.

And don’t give me the argument  – this is a pandemic – all the more reason for the people’s representatives to decide, not less.

One notices this all over the country these days. Yes, we want our Government to have the most competent, and hopefully most articulate advisors – fantastic. But in a Parliamentary democracy, where there is the Parliament, The Executive, The Judiciary, it is obvious who must decide policy and program.

So let us not have the advisors making public statements about actions to be taken – “we will not move forward. . . “

That’s the job for the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Cabinet and where necessary the Legislative Assembly.

“I will advise the Government that:” yes!

“We will not move forward:” no!


Graeme Roberts – Governments need professional advisors.  They are required to do just that—advise.  Dr. Henry is in the same position as a senior bureaucrat. There to consult with and advise the elected people.  You are absolutely correct.  It is the latter who make the decisions based on both public and professional opinions/advice. 

Hopefully in this case Horgan will step in having consulted with his cabinet colleagues as to what is the correct action to take at this point in time and will continue to do so.

Gary Korpan – True because many politicians defer to their "experts" automatically because they are too lazy to analyse alternative proposals and/or they want to have someone else to blame if things go wrong.