A few months ago the CBC had Jack Layton working a 12-hour shift in the emergency ward at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton.
It was for the network’s Make the Politician Work television series.
After what’s happened in recent days to the NDP leader, the CBC show takes on new meaning, at least closer to reality television than if Layton had been playing a bit role in a Victorian detective drama.
Layton learned about ward work, mopping up dirty floors, fetching warm blankets for chilly patients, and checking blood pressure.
‘I was afraid of making a mistake,’ Layton said afterwards. He admitted 12 hours straight in the emergency ward can be tiring.
Layton took part in bed management meeting, where hospital staff try finding empty beds for new patients by juggling beds around. It gave him an inside look at how hospitals have to struggle with patient overloads.
At one point they had Layton trying to resuscitate a supposedly dying man. They never told him it was just acting for the cameras. Layton took it all very seriously. They ‘saved’ the man’s life, but exhausted Layton.
Imagine if it had been a real patient, waking up to find Jack Layton, federal MP, staring down at him.
‘’Are that hard up for staff in our hospitals nowdays?’’
But then again, it could have been worse – Stephen Harper looking down at him, grinning, scalpel in hand.
The program can be found in the CBC archives and on YouTube.