UCP candidate suggests heart attack victims should take personal accountability

Click to play video: 'Livingstone-Macleod UCP candidate criticizes heart attack victims'
Livingstone-Macleod UCP candidate criticizes heart attack victims
UCP candidate for Livingstone-Macleod Chelsae Petrovic suggests heart attack victims should take more personal accountability for their health. She said in her experience as a nurse, many heart attack victims blame others for the state of their personal health. Provincial affairs reporter Saif Kaisar has the story. – Apr 10, 2023

A United Conservative Party candidate is suggesting heart attack victims should take more personal accountability.

Chelsae Petrovic, the UCP candidate for Livingstone-Macleod, who is also the current mayor of Claresholm and a nurse, said she sees people suffer from heart attacks and not take responsibility for the own health.

“This might be political suicide here, what I’m about to say,” she prefaced her comments during an interview in February with a podcast called The Canadian Story, hosted by David Parker and Zach Gerbe.

“We can look at this and I see it in health care, I’m going to say it: maybe the reason you had a heart attack was because you haven’t taken care of yourself; you’re extremely overweight, you haven’t managed your congestive heart failure, you haven’t managed your diabetes, and there’s no personal accountability,” Petrovic said.

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“But they come into the hospital and it’s all of a sudden everyone else’s problem but their own.”

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said that while he agrees personal choices could lead to health risks, he calls Petrovic’s comments tone deaf.

“Any time a candidate on the eve of an election begins by saying this may be political suicide, that should be a hint that you should stop talking — but she continues,” Bratt said.

“What she is saying is correct: there are risky activities that people do that has an impact on our health-care system, but who is to judge what behaviours are acceptable and what behaviours are not?”

He said Petrovic doesn’t really suggest any specific health policies and wonders what specific health policy changes she would like to see.

“Should [health-care providers] say, ‘Yes you had a heart attack, but you’re fat so we’re not going to treat you’? or ‘It’s your fault’? or  ‘We’re going to extra bill you?'”
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In a statement to Global News, Petrovic acknowledges her language could be offensive but does not apologize for it.

“This comment was taken out of context. I was speaking for several minutes about the challenges our health-care system is currently facing, not only as the mayor of Claresholm, but as a frontline nurse,” her statement read.

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“I understand my comment could be offensive when removed from the longer interview, and I should have chosen better language. I believe we should be a province that not only focuses on reactive health for those in need but also one that teaches our kids to practice healthy living, which includes taking care of our physical and mental health.”

Click to play video: 'Livingstone-Macleod UCP members raising concerns over nomination vote'
Livingstone-Macleod UCP members raising concerns over nomination vote

Bratt says we saw this sort of argument made a couple years ago and it didn’t go well.

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“This was a debate that Albertans had on the margins during the battle over COVID vaccinations, and whether those unvaccinated catching COVID [then] going into ICU should be treated or not, and that was roundly condemned for even thinking about that,” Bratt said.

“This, I think, is the same thing. Are you going to say, ‘Yeah, you had a heart attack, too bad, maybe you should’ve taken care of yourself?'”

During a news conference Tuesday renewing the party’s public health guarantee, UCP leader Danielle Smith was asked about Petrovic’s comments.

“I’m pleased to see that the candidate issued a statement yesterday clarifying that she could have used better language,” Smith said Tuesday.

“I think we all need to make sure that Albertans have access to high-quality, accessible, publicly funded health care and that’s why we’re here today.

“If people have access to good doctors who can help them manage their conditions, it’s going to make sure that they maintain the best health possible and that’s why we have our public health care guarantee,” she said.

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Danielle Smith enters unofficial election campaign mode

The UCP has seen controversy over controversial health comments in the past.

Smith was slammed for cancer misinformation before she became premier.

She falsely said people could control their cancer so long as it’s before a Stage 4 diagnosis.

Brian Jean, now the minister of jobs, economy and northern development, was among one of many who called Smith out for her cancer remarks.

On Tuesday, the NDP candidate for the riding called on both Smith and Petrovic to apologize for the comments.

“Last year Danielle Smith said Albertans are responsible for developing cancer. Now her candidate blames Albertans for having a heart attack,” said Kevin Van Tighem in a statement.

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Van Tighem said the role of government is never to judge people for their personal choices but to ensure people have public health care where they need it, and when they need it.

“That’s where the UCP has failed badly. Blaming people for getting sick is a shameful way for dodging responsibility.”

“Those suffering from heart disease, and those who have lost loved ones to heart attacks are owed an apology by Chelsae Petrovic,” said Van Tighem. “If she won’t give one, then Smith must remove her as a candidate.”

Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd condemned Petrovic’s remarks as callous, tone-deaf and unacceptable.

“The UCP attacked family doctors in the midst of a pandemic and now hundreds of thousands of Albertans have no access to one of the most important parts of preventative care,” he said in a tweet Monday night.

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In March, Torry Tanner, who was the UCP candidate for Lethbridge-West, resigned after she posted a video of herself making allegations that Kindergarten teachers were showing children pornographic material and helping kids change their gender identities without parental consent or knowledge.

The party distanced itself from Tanner’s claims and denounced her views.

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UCP Lethbridge-West candidate resigns

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