Whether you like him or don’t, Dan Ashton is the elected -Member of the Legislature – for Penticton. He also did considerable work as both mayor, and later MLA, to help secure funding for the long-overdue expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital.
Now, for not the first, but second time, Ashton ( shown at right) appears to be snubbed by the “communications” department with Interior Health.
You may have noticed a neat photo-op on Page 1 of Monday’s Penticton Herald where dignitaries gathered to mark the 100-day countdown to the opening of the new patient care tower.
Among the VIPs in the photo were Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki and hospital chair Petra Veintimilla, an Oliver Town councillor.
But, why no MLA when hospitals are provincially funded? I asked Interior Health this question on Tuesday morning and it took 72 hours for them to come up with an answer.
Finally, Friday at 11:57 a.m. I received this reply on my email:
“Interior Health appreciates all the work that Mr. Dan Ashton, MLA continues to do for the Penticton region as well as his ongoing support for the David E. Kampe tower. It has been a pleasure to have Mr. Ashton join us for a number of events, including the significant beam signing and topping off event marking the halfway completion mark of this tower. We look forward to the many other events we will have to recognize the substantial impact this tower will have for the Penticton community and look forward to having Mr. Ashton celebrate with us at these events as the opportunities arise…. Interior Health.”
A non-answer from a communications department that doesn’t answer a question.
That’s beyond pathetic!
Please don’t use the excuse that the NDP is now in power and Ashton is in Opposition. I expect to see member of Parliament Richard Cannings on stage Canada Day at Gyro Park even though his NDP party has been relegated to third place federally.
Ashton’s office was never sent an invitation. The first snub came Dec. 19 when the “keys” to the expanded hospital were announced.
Media wasn’t invited to that event — a press release was sent with a picture of IH senior staffers. Ashton attended … as an invited guest of major donor David Kampe. As he rolled Mr. Kampe in a wheelchair, the Liberal MLA was told politicians were not allowed in the photo. (By the way, Veintimilla, who was in the photo, is an elected official.)
Snubs and oversights of this nature should never happen because Interior Health hires professional “communications” staff. These are not volunteers. Many in communications earn six-figure salaries to go along with huge expense accounts and great benefits.
This comes at the expense of patient care.
I also reached out to Veintimilla, who agrees Ashton should have been included.
Last week’s photo-op was organized by Kevin Parnell, former sports scribe with The Capital News, a freebie paper in Kelowna, who at the same time worked for the Kelowna Rockets.
As IH never directly answered my question, I can assume one of three things:
1. Staff incompetence.
2. Somebody higher up doesn’t like Ashton.
3. A power game involving the governing NDP/Greens and BC Liberals.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of public relations departments. This recent escapade gives me even less faith in them.
As a citizen in the community and a solid supporter of the Penticton hospital expansion since Day 1, I’m offended.
Posted with permission of Penticton Herald editor Joe Fries
James Miller is valley editor for Okanagan Newspaper Group. To contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org