Niagara’s Regional Council Throws Our Medical Heath Officer – Dr. Mustafa Hirji – Under The Bus While It Pushes For Quick Re-Opening Canada/U.S. Border Crossings
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted July 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
Whatever Dr. Mustafa Hirji is getting paid to serve as Niagara Region’s acting medical officer of health, it isn’t enough.
If I were him, after the drubbing he got from Niagara Regional Councillors at a meeting of the council this past July 8th, I would seriously consider quitting and saying – ‘To hell with you. If you want to send out messages to the public about the risks around this virus based on politics rather than science, why don’t you appoint Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati or Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop or St. Catharines Regional Councillor Tim Rigby to be Niagara’s Medical Health Officer?
“Obviously they know so much more about risks involved in opening our economy and re-opening the Canada/U.S. cross-border bridges than I do.”
I watched this disgraceful Niagara Regional Council on July 8th on-line, which is all we can do because they still won’t let us in to the Niagara Regional Headquarters or the council chambers there-in, and I left it with the feeling the feeling that, come next year’s municipal elections, do we ever need a cleaning of the house.
And I am certainly not talking about Dr. Mustafa Hirji, who held up his head with class as the like of Diodati, Redekop and others peppered him with accusing questions and insults as you can watch in a video of the Council meeting I am including below…
Apparently Dr. Hirji’s crime that led to the likes of Redekop, a lawyer by trade, who peppered the doctor with prosecutorial questions as if he quite literally was on trial for alleged crime, was answering a question from members of Canada’s national media, most notably the CBC, about whether or not it is a good idea to begin re-opening the Canada-U.S. border now.
Dr. Hirji, who has had an obvious record of not throwing caution to the wind when it comes to playing any kind of game of chicken with a virus that has so far killed more than 600,000 people in Canada and the U.S. over the past 15 or so months (more than died in both World Wars in the last century), responded to CBC and others that he would not recommend opening the Canada/U.S. borders yet.
Now I must declare a conflict of interest here because as someone who has many friends and family members on the U.S. side of the border, I would truly love to see the border open now.
But I think I get what Dr. Hirji who, by the way, never said that he might not support some easing of restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated, is saying given the wild card of a Delta and other more infectious and dangerous variants of COVID now surging in some regions on the North American continent.
Yet that did not stop Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, who seems to come across as the defacto chair of Niagara’s Regional Council, from taking over the June 8th Niagara Regional Council meeting with a session that involved going after Dr. Hirji for having dared to air his professional views on re-opening the border.
“I am not sure you are aware of the weight of your words are carry and the concern it is causing,” said Diodati, who apparently knows more about the risks and the medical science around this horrific pandemic than Dr. Hirji does.
Then there was Redekop’s interrogation, followed by the senior St. Catharines Regional Councillor Tim Rigby who, from this end of these zoom meetings, looks like, after more than 14 months, he is still trying to figure out how to use his mute button, saying; “If I might give you (Dr. Hirji) some advice, careful what you say.”
Sorry Councilor Rigby, but I don’t think I want a medical health chief in Niagara who is chilled into being careful about what he or she says during one of the worst pandemics we are facing in centuries. I want one who gives us the straight good – not political goods. Please go back to trying to figure out how to use the mute button on your computer.
One might suggest that Rigby, Redekop, Diodati and others be careful what they say.
Meanwhile, as you will see in the Regional Council video, Dr. Hirji responded with a level of measured intelligence and class that cannot be attributed to a majority of Regional Coucnillors – too many of whom sat back and did not say a word to defend the doctor.
By the way, I would challenge Diodati, Redekop and others who argue that it is time to begin re-opening more services, at least to those who are fully vaccinated, to re-open their council chambers to citizens, for face-to-face meetings again.
We don’t have any of that though. The council chambers across Niagara remain as locked up as Brinks Truck. And there are at least some Niagara citizens who believe there are nefarious purposes behind that.
Just to end where I began, Ontario’s annual so-called ‘Sunshine List’ shows that in 2020, Dr. Hirji’s annual salary with Niagara Region was $296,583. But even for that amount of money, I am still not sure who would want the job with this Regional Council.
Apparently we already have enough medical experts on the Council.
To watch this July 8th Niagara Regional Council meeting, please click on the screen below and wait for the real Niagara Regional Chair make a few opening remarks and take a role call before Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, or should we call him Dr. Diodati, goes right into action –
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