“The term lame duck generally refers to one who holds power when that power is certain to end in the near future.” (Legal Dictionary)
Lame duck leaders do not face the consequences of their actions; they will soon be gone.
Other politicians do not worry about what a lame duck does or says, as long as the lame duck leaves them alone.
Lame ducks can do great harm, but for the most part, everyone sits back and waits for new management.
Vote of Non-Confidence
On Sunday, the OMA Council, Ontario Doctors’ governing body, debated the following motion:
“That OMA council express to the OMA Executive Committee that Council has lost confidence in the leadership provided by the Executive”
Council voted 55% in favour.
Usually, 25 Board members and 7 student representatives vote, en bloc, in support of whatever the Board advises [Correction: Past Presidents don’t vote]. Considering that, the non-confidence motion had the support of an overwhelming majority of working doctors.
For the first time ever, Council said that it did not trust the current Executive to lead doctors in Ontario.
In a twist so strange that it has to be true, each Executive member kept her/his seat. No one resigned. No one even offered to resign.
Six motions followed the non-confidence motion, one for each member of the Exec.
One by one, each member of the Executive rose and spoke against the motion that called for her/his resignation. And one after the next, each motion failed by a bit more than the one before.
Council made an historic and uncharacteristic decision to support a vote of non-confidence. But it could not agree to fire a colleague. Council could not stomach something so personal.
Lame Duck Leadership
Now the OMA worries about what to do next. The Board sent emails about unity and action.
Last week, many people suspected the OMA was incompetent and irrelevant. This week everyone knows that the OMA lost a non-confidence vote.
For all practical decisions – for example, contracts and negotiations – the OMA has lame duck leadership, in the strict definition of lame duck.
Elections over the next few months will oust half of the Board. The President leaves office in May. In the meantime, the Board faces an almost impossible task.
Despair vs. Hope
Margaret Thatcher said that socialism is great until you run out of other people’s money. The Wynne government has run out of money and cut almost $2 billion from healthcare.
Many doctors predicted this would happen. They all thought that patients would suffer and then the end would come. No one predicted that doctors would suffer like this, first.
No other country copies Canadian Medicare. And no one makes it illegal for doctors to provide medically necessary care outside of the state insurance system. All of the most socialist countries have blended systems. Even Communist countries look beyond the state for help with medical care.
Hope will come when the OMA starts to advocate publicly. It should write about young people dying on wait lists; old people waiting for days on rubber mattresses, in noisy emergency departments.
The OMA should criticize mismanagement and cuts. It should campaign for substantive change.
The OMA must stop lusting for friendship with the Liberal government, or any other party that ruins care with impunity.
The OMA Board should take the advice of the governance expert who reviewed the Board last summer: Ask 3 members of the Exec to resign.
The Board knows what needs to be done but refuses to do it quickly.
The Board needs to make real decisions and take meaningful, public action. The OMA must shed its lame duck status before anyone will waste time engaging with it. When will the OMA realize that it’s in a fight for its existence?