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Yesterday, the former MP and former Minister of Health from 2015 to 2017, Jane Philpott, posted a photo of herself in full hospital scrubs and protective gear, including a face mask, as she announced to the world that she had bravely joined the front lines in the world’s war against the coronavirus.
The highly accomplished Philpott, for no reason besides her dedication to serving our country and its citizens, announced that she would get into the trenches to fight against a common enemy of humanity—a novel virus, which has disrupted our way of life, taken away loved ones, and brought more economic uncertainty than we have seen in decades.
Philpott served as Health Minister before being shuffled off to be Minister of Indigenous Services, and was eventually demoted to President of the Treasury Bond by Justin Trudeau amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Yet Philpott has shown herself to be a tremendous leader, time and time again.
When Jody Wilson-Raybould exposed Justin Trudeau for his government’s inappropriate behaviour, the Liberal ship went into full damage-control mode. Though most of the party kept their lips sealed, Philpott decided to take action.
Philpott, who at the time was one of Justin Trudeau's most trusted ministers, went on to announce that she would be resigning from cabinet citing her "core values."
"I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities and constitutional obligations," said Philpott in January of 2020. "There can be a cost to acting on one's principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them."
A cost that was felt soon thereafter, as Philpott would be booted from the Liberal caucus by Trudeau. She went on to run as an Independent, eventually losing her seat as MP of Markham-Stouffeville in the 2019 election.
Philpott’s resume is expansive, and is so perfectly fit for a role as a health minister, that it should be a point of great shame for the prime minister that he would lose out on her expertise.
Philpott is a physician by trade. She has a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Western Ontario. She has her Masters of Public Health in Global Health Concentration from the University of Toronto—and since her exit from politics, she has been appointed as the dean of the Queen’s University Faculty of Health Sciences and director of the Queen’s School of Medicine.
Current Health Minister Patty Hajdu, by comparison, does not meet the incredibly high standard one would hope from a Health Minister—especially amid a global pandemic, which has rocked Canada to its core, economically, socially, and medically.
Hajdu's resume is impressive in itself. She has an expansive resume in working with homelessness, substance abuse, and drug awareness committees. She has also served as the Minister of the Status of Women in the federal. Oftentimes, rabid Facebook commenters tear Hajdu apart for having worked as a graphic designer.
It comes as a surprise, to me at least—considering so many on all sides of the political aisle seem to be starving for non-career politicians in the post-Trump world—but the moment someone who, say, worked as a bartender, gets democratically elected, they are reduced to their previous experience in the working class.
I've noticed this to be especially true of women who serve in politics.
While Hajdu’s job hasn’t been particularly inadequate, the first hand medical experience and overall leadership Philpott could have provided to Trudeau’s cabinet in this time of immense stress would have been a voice of reason coupled with first hand experience. Someone who understands the ins-and-outs of the complex medical system, and someone who could have provided solutions before entering an all-out, nationwide panic.
Frankly, Justin Trudeau is a fool for having put her in a situation where she felt she had to leave, and although I’m happy for her in her post-political career, she is someone who is not defined by their political label, but instead by their leadership, and Canada would be better off with her at the helm in this astoundingly difficult time.