'Two for one deal' in the Edmonton Sun

There's a story in today's Edmonton Sun about an HIV/hepatitis scare, after it was discovered that some hospital workers had been administering medication using reused syringes. Health officials are urging 2,700 patients to be tested for HIV and hepatitis as a result.

The reporter gets quotes from a variety of sources. I found two of those quotes particularly interesting. One of them is effective, while the other leaves you wondering what the spokesperson was thinking.

Judge for yourself and see who tells their story more effectively:

#1. Alberta's health minister, Ron Liepert, refused to lay blame until the Alberta Quality Health Countil is finished its review of the incident. Here's his quote:

"This is a system made up of human beings. There will be mistakes that will happen and we've had other mistakes in the past."

Talk about a lost opportunity. Instead of assuring residents that everything will be done to ensure this never happens again and that the health and safety of Albertans is their top priority, he sums it up with something that sounds like a line from 'Que Sera, Sera'.

#2. The more effective quote is this one, from NDP Leader Brian Mason, who says:

"This government spends more money and makes a greater effort to educate drug addicts about not reusing syringes than they do the health professionals that we depend on to protect us. If they have not put in place the educational practices and procedures to make sure this isn't happening then we should assume it is happening in other places in other forms."

It does what a good key message should do -- it boils down the person's viewpoint into a simple, compelling statement that's easy to remember. The comparison with the education program for drug addicts is pretty effective and makes the government look as if it has its priorities out of whack. It also serves to make the health minister's quote (hey, we're people....things happen) look even sillier.