BTC: ‘This is like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts.’


(Updated through 11:11pm.)

You stay classy, Gerry Ritz.

Update. From Canwest. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper said jokes Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz made in the midst of the listeriosis crisis were ‘inappropriate,’ according to his spokesman, who added there has no been discussions about asking Ritz to resign.”

Update II. Ritz’s apology. “It was a highly stressful time. Many people were working countless hours and attending countless meetings to keep on top of the situation. In that context, I made a couple of spur of moment, offhand comments. In particular, one about my official opposition critic, whom I have already called to apologize. My comments were tasteless and completely inappropriate. I apologize unreservedly.”

Update III. And let’s not forget Tony Clement in Denver. “I’m Health Minister Tony Clement, and I have to say I approved this food.”

Update IV. Liberals are calling for Ritz to resign immediately. Wayne Easter comments. “I’ve already called for Mr. Ritz’s resignation over his handling of the listeriosis outbreak and his failure to tell the truth to Canadians about the government’s role in it. I could never imagine he would show this kind of insensitivity. This is just one more reason he needs to be dismissed … I don’t care what he said about me, but 17 people have died. That is no joking matter.”

Update V. Jack Layton, scrumming with reporters in Toronto, has called for the minister to be fired and removed as a Conservative candidate.

Update VI. From the Globe. “A representative of the Prime Minister’s Office was also on the phone call, but Mr. Teneycke could not say who it was. He did say the prime minister only learned of the incident Wednesday and the PMO official had not reported the remarks.”

Update VII. Now might be a good time to (re)read that CMAJ editorial.

Update VIII. Layton’s official statement. “The Minister’s comments are simply and utterly unacceptable.”

Update IX. Ritz interviewed after the last demand for his resignation. And tonight’s coverage from Mike Duffy Live. The Conservative press office says Mr. Ritz will deliver a statement on the Hill at 10:30pm.

Update X. Ritz walked out of Confederation Building and read an apology bulleted with 13 points. In short: “I would like to address inappropriate comments I made… callous and inappropriate comments… an unreserved and heartfelt apology… I phoned Mr. Easter earlier today and apologized… He accepted my apology and I thank him for that… my most humble and heartfelt regrets to the families of those affected… I very deeply apologize… my comments were inappropriate and callouse (sic)… I take responsibility for them and apologize without reservation.” He then turned and went back inside, ignoring all shouted questions.

We are informed that Mr. Ritz has spoken with the Prime Minister and no resignation was either offered or sought.

Update XI. The Sun talks to some of those affected families. Lionel Avon, an Ottawa man hospitalized with listeriosis in late August, was disgusted and offended by the Minister’s “stupid” remarks. “He should not be the Minister any more. It’s very offensive. People are very insulted,” he told Sun Media. “He was laughing at them. It makes me feel guilty for them.”

… Karen Clark of Madoc, Ont., whose mother died from listeriosis, was appalled by the Minister’s comments and renewed calls for a full explanation for her mom’s death. “Frankly I don’t find them amusing or funny in any way. I just feel it’s hurtful and I find it disrespectful not only to my mother but to any family who has lost a loved one due to this Listeriosis,” she told CTV. “It certainly was an inappropriate comment. I understand that there is going to be an independent investigation due to this but … this investigation is not going to be open to the public and there’s not going to be a public report published at the end of this investigation,” said Clark. “There’s no opportunity for anybody to ask questions, what I’d like to know, Doesn’t my family deserve an explanation of why my mom died?

Update XII. CBC’s coverage, including the Canadian Press video of Ritz’s arrival in Ottawa. Full version of the video here.


BTC: ‘This is like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts.’

  1. Behold, our once and future government.

  2. If it was just another tasteless example of one minister, that’s one thing. But this is the kind of meme that runs through Harper’s halls; no crisis is our fault, no victims are our responsibility unless it can be milked for a photo op, and no slice is too good for our opposition.
    When a ‘Good Christian’ like our so-called PM can without question spend millions to assail the reputation of his rival, I don’t think there is a real conscious behind the government, neve rmind integrity. Just a power-hungry vacuum.

  3. What an absolute insult to the families of all those people who died from listeriosis! I think these families should all get together for a class action lawsuit against Gerry Ritz and the Conservative government.

    Any lawyers out there??!!


  4. Gimme a break. Yes, these comments were tastelass and insensitive. But, people in all parties make tasteless and insensitive remarks everyday. Let’s all take a valium and put this in perspective.
    Minister Ritz apologized and Wayne Easter accepted it.
    Easter says he has called on the Minister to resign for other reasons. That is a legitmate request since it is based on Mr Easter’s view of what actions the government took. It is also legitimate for the government to respond that it will let the electorate decide. After all we are in an election campaign.

  5. It was a joke that was inappropriate/in poor taste.

    But overhyping every single imperfection in a party will not bring that party down by “death by a thousand cuts.”

    It will make the opposition look like unserious shrills – as a desperate opposition grasping for that silver bullet “gotcha” moment that will usher in “progressive” rule.

    Of course a desperate opposition will tend to do that.

    What’s remarkable is how unserious and out-of-touch the media is by dutifully hyping this (and cartoon birds ect.) rather than on real issues.

    And isn’t it ironic that the serious issue of stopping children from smoking was actually mocked and turned into a cartoon portrait on this blog?

    Today’s out-of-touch leftist media, where cartoons are serious news, and serious news become cartoons.

  6. kody, do you just have a big jar next to the keyboard from which you pull out random phrases? If so, can I suggest adding a few to the mix?

  7. In Kody’s jar the little tag phrases are double-sided. The reverse requires he state the opposite in case of a Liberal blunder…

  8. I wouldn’t put too much into Tony’s comments, it seems like he says the same joke at every gathering where food is present.

    At the Ontario PC convention this year he was warning everybody at the breakfast buffet to eat healthy on order of the health minister.

  9. Dion’s going down because he’s practically incapable of communicating,

    and his policy of promising to raise the price of all things that are carbon dependent (which is virtually everything in varying degrees),

    is one of the worst policy decisions a Liberal leader has ever made.

    A “blunder” yes. But not of the cheap ‘gotcha’ variety in favor with the left, but one that goes squarely to policy and capability.

    It must be frustrating, though, nipping at the CPC ankles, while Harper thrusts the proverbial dagger deep into the heart of Dion’s platform.

  10. “It must be frustrating, though, nipping at the CPC ankles, while Harper thrusts the proverbial dagger deep into the heart of Dion’s platform.”

    I always enjoy your way with metaphor, kody, but that “proverbial” is the coup de grace.

  11. Cool Blue

    with all due respect that is a different joke without the reality of an ongoing food crisis. They are not comparable.

    Agreed Dan with each passing day it seems that sweater vest isn’t fuzzy enough to keep the spiteful and vile current that seems rampant in Tory-town in check.

  12. Ritz will resign, of course. Today at 10:30 p.m. That’s the minimum. The NDP will call for his resignation as a candidate, but frankly, it helps them and the Liberals if he does not.

    See what happens when you f**k with the civil service? Remember the RCMP and Paul Martin? Well, this year it’s the CFIA and Harper. Wanna bet that there will be others?

  13. What total media manipulation. These comments were made almost 3 weeks ago. Why are they only coming to light now?

  14. Kody, I was agreeing with you there (for a moment). Yes, it was appallingly inappropriate and dare I say, a stupid thing to say (do politicians not get that people are listening, ignoring sure, but listening in case they do stuff like this?) Yes, incredibly insensitive to the families. But he wasn’t talking to the families. He was talking to a bunch of tired and overwhelmed people. Is it hard to understand he’d want to lighten the mood?

    Then Kody, you go on to blast Dion for being a poor communicator. WTF? Because DION didn’t come down like a ton of bricks on Ritz?

    I get–we all do–that you are here to sling the mud back at the Liberals at every opportunity. But come on, man! Make up your mind!

  15. Today’s out-of-touch leftist media, where cartoons are serious news, and serious news become cartoons.

    You don’t even seem to understand the difference between what is serious is and what isn’t, so you are hardly one to judge. A health care crisis with a body count is serious news.

    What I haven’t seen here yet is a denunciation of the blabber mouth who committed an egregious…egregious, I say!…breach of confidentiality and besmirched the image of Big Daddy’s Conservative Government.

    Are the Conbots slacking off?

  16. Psychology Today (on newstands now) has a lead article on “taboo” behaviours, including gallows humour. The point is that inappropriate and ghoulish jokes are quite common, especially when people are in stressful situations. Ritz was making a stupid, ghoulish joke in a private meeting. Not to get all perspectiveful and everything, but does this really reveal an underlying character flaw if it’s common behaviour and it was during a business conference call? Is it more disturbing than Dion’s belief that he has saved both Canada and Kyoto?

    “It seems ghoulish, but joking about danger and death in some circumstances is a crucial coping mechanism, not a sign of mental instability. Doctors and emergency medical technicians are famous for gallows humor. Paramedics who tell morbid jokes have lower stress and less burnout than those who don’t, one study found. It’s never been studied rigorously, so it’s hard to know exactly how this kind of humor functions, but “having a laugh in the face of death or extreme hardship can certainly have a place in healthy coping,” says Tyler Stillman, a social psychologist at Florida State University. “Humor allows people to detach from extremely trying circumstances and attach to other people to get through difficult times.” Stillman has found that it’s often prompted by situations in which we seek social support—including wars and other catastrophes.”

  17. Excuses, excuses.

    Why not just own up to the fact that it was a statement made in poor judgment?

    And are we all of a sudden decrying gotcha moments? “Do you think it is easy to make indignities?”

    LOL! You guys are too much…

  18. Style, while it might be considered a human, and perhaps healthy reaction, the man is a cabinet minister. To do this in a professional meeting simply shows a severe lack of judgement.

    Of course, as Mr. Easter has said, this lack of judgement has already been evidenced what we have here is simply a reminder.

    And for those who think a conservative majority would govern with as much tact, deference, and concern for people’s welfare as the current minority has, I think it might be good to have another reminder from Mr. Ritz’, “When we come back with a majority, then all bets are off.”

  19. Kody- “leftists media”??? HA HA HA HA HA!!!!! I believe I have explained this to you once before but I’ll try again (although shorter this time so maybe you’ll bother to read it). The media (with some small exceptions) is onwed by big business. Big business is the opposite of left wing. Thus, media is not and never will be even slightly left wing. The closest they come to being leftwing might be a bit of blue Liberalism. And, your cries for more discussion of policy and fewer cheap attacks are priceless!!! Have you seen the Tory commercials (talk about family being nice and/or out of context sound bites painting Dion as scum). You support the party that has the least to say about policy and that has written the book on cheap shot “gotcha” attacks!
    With regards to the comment in question. While it may be understandable in the sense of dark humour and strange situations it is an increadible poor piece of judgement, especially from a Minister, during a campaign that has already showed him that he needs to watch what he says. The individual occurance is not the end of the world, the fact that it shows a consistant set of behaviours (very distirbing ones) from the Tories is the issue. Also, the fact that Harper always seems to only find out about these bad things after they happen is a problem. Shouldn’t a “Leader” know what is going on in his own party (or at least in his own cabinet)? Shouldn’t a leader be able to get his troops to behave in an appropriate way?

  20. Amazing how the CPC supporters make light of this. Hey, they get all excited over puffin remarks, but by gosh saying a nasty when people have DIED is okay with them. Don’t worry, be happy.


    Just when you thought that the CONROACHES couldn’t dig a hole even deeper than the last and then this. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. There are just too many examples of their crass, insensitive, and contemptuous behaviour to cite. I believe that the majority of Canadians will not find the death of 17 human beings, through no fault of their own, to be funny or even mildly amusing. You can’t rationalize or justify the utterance of these hurtful comments unless you are a true blue CONBOT supporter. Sadly, these individuals see nothing wrong with the Minister’s remarks. What I find incredulous is that Canadians want this party to govern our country and represent our interests abroad. Shocking.

  22. It's deja vu all over again!

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