Earlier, your humble organ reported Gordon Campbell's brother-in-law Les Vertesi will be joining the premier when he tours Europe next week. But what else do we know about Dr. Vertesi, aside from his advocacy for a parallel private healthcare system? Well, according to past interim Opposition leader Joy MacPhail, he was no friend of the provincial New Democrats when they were office. While questioning the government's decision to appoint Dr. Vertesi to the Health Council of Canada, Ms. MacPhail said, "I am very familiar with Dr. Vertesi's criticisms of my time when I was in government - very familiar. It turns out that the minute this government got elected and nothing changed, Dr. Vertesi decided to fall silent, and now he's getting his payoff" - a claim disputed by Dr. Vertesi fan club member and then Health Minister Colin Hansen.
Indeed, according to review of press clippings from the late nineties, Dr. Vertesi was repeatedly quoted slamming the state of healthcare in British Columbia. And, in a letter-to-the-editor published by The Vancouver Sun on February 10, 2001, he wrote "Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the irony was too strong to miss. The BCTV Thursday evening news had a story about St. Paul's Hospital being so full that the emergency ward was unable to accept anyone. The next news story featured Premier Ujjal Dosanjh boasting that the grizzly bears in B.C. were safe. Interesting priorities, aren't they?"
But Dr. Vertesi also caused some trouble for the Liberals during the runup to the recent election campaign. Speaking with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., the Fraser Health Authority's associate director said the only way toreduce wait times in Surrey Memorial Hospital's emergency room would be to hire more staff. That appeared to contradict statements by then Health Minister Shirley Bond, who seemed to think the problem could be solved simply by expanding that room.
And Dr. Vertesi, who instrumental in founding British Columbia's acclaimed advanced life support paramedic program, doesn't look he's interesting in coozying up to the May Day parade crowd. In a letter-to-the-editor published in the Sun on March 10, 2004, he criticized a public healthcare advocate for failing to "mention of unionized workers...as barriers to change." Also included in Dr. Vertesi's list of barriers was "public bureaucrats."