Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leading from behind

A headline which caught the eye: "PM soothes premiers vaccine worries." Really. How interesting, a conference call among the PM and Premiers on H1N1. It's only been a few weeks of long lines and confusion, he finally got on the horn to, you know, do something. Apparently Mr. Harper is "...vowing that Ottawa will provide the provinces with speedy updates on the H1N1 vaccine after Canada's premiers voiced concerns about confusion over the rollout of supplies." It takes a week or so of pressure to compel them to provide such a minimal level of competence, how reassuring.

What prompted this "Stephen Harper:Leadership" telephone conference moment? Self-initiative?
The Prime Minister's Office was saying little about the call. “The Prime Minister invited the premiers on a phone call to discuss H1N1 preparedness and the economy. It was a positive and collaborative discussion,” PMO spokesman Dimitri Soudas said.

However, sources familiar with the situation said the premiers had initially approached the Prime Minister about ensuring they have as much information as possible on just how much vaccine is available for the provinces.

The premiers resolved to press the federal government to give them more timely information on vaccine supplies during their own conference call last Friday. Health officials across Canada have expressed frustration that Ottawa has been slow to inform them about how much vaccine provinces and territories will get each week. Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Arlene King, was caught off guard when reporters knew before she did that the federal government planned to release another 1.8 million doses of the vaccine to the provinces this week.
From CP:
Talk turned to H1N1 during a recent meeting of the premiers, said a source from Quebec's government. The provincial leaders apparently wanted to revisit that chat with Harper on the line.
So, it certainly appears that the PM was backed into this call by the Premiers yet the PMO is spinning it otherwise, as Harper taking the lead. And it seems that the Premiers are not too keen on hearing surprise Prime Ministerial announcements in the House of Commons on how many doses will be distributed to them. Who knew.

Not sure that Globe headline really fits exactly what transpired here.