What did John O’Fee do wrong?

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
September 25, 2017 - 5:21am

KAMLOOPS — The best day for releasing bad news is Friday. Governments know that people don’t pay as much attention to the world on Fridays — or, at least, that was always the prevailing wisdom.

In today’s age of social media, where people can’t walk a block or sit for five minutes without checking their phones to see what’s going on, bad-news Fridays don’t make as much sense as they used to. Now, it’s more like a tradition than having a practical purpose.

Anyway, on Friday, the NDP government issued a news release headlined “Health authority boards receive new appointments.”

Start with the good stuff first, right?

So there was Health Minister Adrian Dix talking about health board chairs having “a lot history of public service, community work, and experience” etc. etc. It’s the new government’s goal, he said in the release, “to provide leadership for a strong, innovative and responsible public health-care system, and we are confident that these appointments will support this goal.”

One would think the previous appointments, then, didn’t achieve that goal.

A couple of paragraphs later, he thanked John O’Fee for his service as chair of the Interior Health board.

Translated: “You’re fired.”

Dr. Doug Cochrane, you’re hired.

So, what did John O’Fee do wrong? He’d only been in the chair a short time. Seemed to be doing a good job. No big controversies. He was there for the official opening of the new building at RIH, a propitious occasion. Other things, too.

Well, what John O’Fee did wrong was spend most of his life being a Liberal instead of a New Democrat. He even ran once for a federal seat, with Terry Lake as his campaign manager, though he didn’t win.

He’s no longer IHA chair because when governments change, appointments to boards and commissions change. Governments like having their own people in the board rooms.

So it doesn’t matter how good a job the last person did. If he or she is with the wrong party, so long.

Some people think this is cheap politics. Those who defend it say it’s reasonable for a government to want people in influential positions that are philosophically in agreement with the government.

Others might say that maybe if the new government wanted to do things differently, it would leave appointees alone if they were doing a good job. But that isn’t the way things are done in B.C., by any party.

So O’Fee, who was appointed at least in part due to his Liberal connections, is now unappointed for the same reason.