Cookiegate: health chief fired for eating cookie instead of answering questions

Today’s lesson in risk communication: don’t brush off reporters with crazy gestures involving a cookie, and don’t whine, “I’m still eating my cookie.”

You’ll get fired.

Professor Stephen Duckett, , 60, who had been headhunted from Australia in 2009 to take charge of the newly created Alberta Health Services, was fired after preferring to munch on a cookie rather than answer media questions as he left a meeting of senior healthcare advisers in Canada.

Following a recent meeting in Edmonton, Dr Duckett refused to talk to waiting media about the health crisis in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Age reports that at one stage, as he tried to outpace the media, he prodded the cookie towards the face of a female reporter and said the only thing he was interested in was eating his cookie.

He was quickly dubbed the "Cookie Monster" after a video of the incident went viral showing him nibbling on the biscuit and repeatedly telling the pursuing media "I’m eating my cookie."

The former La Trobe University academic issued an apology the day after the incident on November 19, saying he deeply regretted his behavior and said he respected journalists’ right to ask timely questions in the public interest.

Board chairman Ken Hughes told reporters that Dr Duckett was sacked because his ability to be effective in the role was compromised and the cookie video was "one of the elements" that led to the decision.