Leaking secrets is unethical, but leaving Albertans to die is too

Secret recordings of conversations with Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw have been leaked to CBC Edmonton and confirmed what many of us already suspected; Jason Kenney’s government doesn’t care how many people die as long as they can keep the economy open.

The leaked recordings give a rare perspective into the tug of war between Hinshaw’s scientific stance on managing the pandemic and Premier Jason Kenney’s ideological stance that the economy is king.

Debate immediately ruptured on the ethics of someone surreptitiously recording conversations and leaking them to media, and whether media should have even reported on it.

Political strategist Corey Hogan tweeted that while many would cheer the leak, that it was a violation of the public servants’ oath, and that they would make it harder for candid discussions to occur in a future crisis.


While that is likely right, this isn’t just black and white.

For months now the public, public health officials not under the thumb of the government, and those with a strong BS meter have had the sense that the government might not have integrity in their claims that they were following the advice of Dr. Hinshaw.

Media have tried repeatedly to get Dr. Hinshaw to articulate the advice she has provided and any aberrations in what the government has decided.

Faithfully, the CMOH has repeated her mantra that her role is to advise and that the decisions are made by the Priorities Implementation Cabinet Committee (PICC) – the special cabinet committee struck to shepherd Alberta through this crisis.

But it never quite passed the smell test.

The outstanding journalistic work of CBC investigative reporters Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell on these leaks provides a great public benefit to Albertans.

It’s clear that they meticulously investigated, verified, interviewed and had their i’s dotted and t’s crossed before going to print.

A free press is intended to speak truth to power and hold government accountable to the public.

I have no doubt that this will erode trust between the government and the civil service, but the UCP government has not been shy about their disdain for the civil service and the work they do. What goes around comes around.

While leaking private conversations is unethical, leaving Albertans to die in the name of the economy is both unethical and immoral.

I know which side I’d prefer to be on when my eulogy is read out.

Robbie Kreger-Smith is a consultant for restaurants, communications, and marketing with previous partisan political experience in Alberta.

Connect: @RKSAlberta

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