‘People with unwiped bums’

The Prime Minister’s team learns that spelling is hard. And important.

An unfortunate blunder by the Prime Minister’s Office has residents of Nunavut alternately chuckling and cringing. A news release sent out Monday outlined Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s itinerary as he began a five-day tour of the North.

The release repeatedly spelled the capital of Nunavut as Iqualuit — rather than Iqaluit. The extra “u” makes a world of difference in the Inuktitut language.

Iqaluit, properly spelled, means “many fish.” Spelled with an extra “u,” the Nunavut language commissioner’s office says the word translates as a derogatory reference to “people with unwiped bums.”

The Prime Minister’s Office calls to say they’ve corrected the mistake on the PM’s website and note that various media outlets have published the same error—including, well, this one. “So hopefully our collective typos … will help better inform all of us to not make the same mistake twice,” says Dimitri Soudas, Mr. Harper’s press secretary.




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‘People with unwiped bums’

  1. I hope this wasn't a Freudian slip by a Harper team which has spent too much time rolling around in bird droppings and such. Train them like that and you can't take them anywhere – including up North.

  2. Economist, Political Strategist, Policy expert, Communications expert, Hockey expert, Nuclear energy expert, Linguist, plus he's really handy with a Nail gun.

    Is there anything PM Stephen Harper can't do?

  3. I blame Microsoft. Just tested it in Word and it changed it to "Iqualuit"

    • Word still won't recognize Obama. It asks if I want to change it to Osama. Seriously.

    • It's actually just the opposite, Word has the correct spelling. I blame Harper

      • I agree, Harper messed up leave poor microsoft alone, they have enough issues to deal with.

  4. I read "Harper's Travels." Harper gets tied up by the Nunavutians.

  5. Wouldn't a place with "many fish" smell about as good as a place with "unwiped bums'?

    Really, either is going to be bad.

    • Maybe he thought David Miller was up North

  6. OMG! This is worse than wafergate!

    Get Andrew Coyne in here to hector Canadians on our parochialism and our obsession with non-World-stagey issues.

  7. The Health Minister is Nanavut – talk about a perfect proofreader there Harper.

  8. Hector Canadian is a good guy.

  9. Well, I'm assuming Inuktitut is not properly written using our alphabet, although I have nothing to base that on. If so "Iqualuit" would only differ from "Iqaluit" in meaning if it were pronounced differently. I assume when most people read "Iqualuit" the word they say/think is "Iqaluit." I'm a bit surprised that the Canadian government does not have its own MS Word dictionary to avoid such blunders, though.

    • Yes, but all written language is a representation of sound, so I guess why write the "u", particularly in this case, if you are not going to pronounce it. I assume the people thought the "u" would be pronounced. But that's politics, words and their meanings are irrelevant. I agree the Can govt should have its own MS Word dictionary to avoid such a show of ignorance/

  10. As much as this is the equivalent of wafergate in importance, the PMO should know better and perform better.

    Its a mistake anyone can make, but one would hope not just anyone proofreads and organizes PM communications. Slaps upside the head are justified.

  11. Everything was going fine with the northern tour until the sh*t hit the fanny.

  12. Amatuer hour at the PMO again. This is who is running your country folks.

    • Did you know that "Amatuer" translates literally as "to kill the American Medical Association" in one of Canada's two official languages?

      I guess we are all glad that you are not running the country.

    • Did you know that "Amatuer" translates literally as "to kill the American Medical Association" in one of Canada's two official languages? (or possibly "love to kill")

      I guess us folks are all glad that you're not running the country.

    • Did you know that "Amatuer" translates literally as "to kill the American Medical Association" in one of Canada's two official languages? (or possibly "love to kill")

      I guess us folks are all glad that you're not running the country. Amazing what a difference the placement of a single "u" makes.

    • Did you know that "Amatuer" translates literally as "to kill the American Medical Association" in one of Canada's two official languages?

      I guess us folks are all glad that you're not running the country. Amazing what a difference the placement of a single "u" makes.

      • It's funny because it's pointy!

  13. Every time another one of these Harpergaffes hits the fan, I cringe. Have we ever, ever, had a more embarrassing government?

    • The Martin Government was way more cringe-inducing than this one. The way they lectured the Americans about not having a global conscience when their record on GHG emissions was better than ours. The way they bumbled the missile defence file. This government has had its moments but let's try and keep it in perspective.

  14. Kady got it right the first time in her live-blog and then made the same mistake as the PMO in her two subsequent mentions of the name.

  15. How incompetent is Dimitri Soudas? I mean, seriously, is there no end to his screwups?

    If he keeps this up, Harper will have no choice but to appoint him to the Senate and make him his Foreign Minister.

  16. Quick, start the lib-left embellished exasperation over this unforgivable typo!

    Why doesn't Harper speak Nunavut! How can we possibly have a PM that isn't fluent in all the languages spoken in Canada!

    What an embarrasment to the world he is!

    Although, I must say, I was far more embarassed by Cretien (Uncle Mumbles) everytime he opened his mouth. A proof is a proof!

    • Nunavut is a place, not a language. The language is Inuktitut. The federal Health Minister is Inuit, or an Inuk.

    • Exactly. There are thirteen provinces and territories after all. That is a lot of names of capital cities to keep track of, folks. And Nunavut isn't even a province, for Pete's sake.

      How do you expect Harper to know how to spell the name of the capital of the territory he is making the centrepoint of his entire northern sovereignty strategy when all his staffers are busy in the basement of Langevin Block digging up quotations from Ignatieff in the 1980s and early 1990s???

    • A proof is a proof was at least spelled correctly. Besides, everyone knew Chretien has a French accent – what's Harper's excuse – poor staff?

    • Quick, start the con-right insistence that the only people who shouldn't be held to high standard of performance are those who insist on high standards for everyone else!

  17. Poor Dimitri is going to be wearing this again…
    I bet there is scuttling around trying to find an Iggy speech where he made the same mistake – and then Dimitri can claim – we actually got an Ignatieff wrong quote right – for once!

  18. Probably would have been more embarrased if he'd taken us into that disastrous war, no?

    • Are you referring to the Iraq war that the US has just won, or the Afghan war in which we're all currently struggling?

      • Thank god the US won that war in Iraq! Think of the accomplishments!

        - We found and got rid of those WMDs.
        - The war finished on budget, on time and with limited loss of military and civilian life.
        - They nuked that f@#$er Osama Bin Laden and his crew of thugs that were responsible for 9/11
        - It in no way diverted resources from the more complex problem of the war in Afghanistan

        Come on Gaunilon, "winning" a war doesn't automatically justify the loss of life and massive expense!

        • I never said it was justified. But neither was it embarrasingly disastrous.

          • wasn't as good on TV as daddy's war

          • If your definitions of "embarrassment" and "disaster" are both embarrassing and disastrous, then yes.

            Losing 4000+ US lives, 100,000+ Iraqi lives, over a trillion dollars and counting, reigniting the Sunni/Shiite civil war, and allowing Iran to reassert their dominance in the South — if that doesn't count as a total Polievring disaster, then what does?

  19. I see a new Arctic sovereignty political slogan in the making:

    "Stephen Harper: keeping the Russians from wiping our ass."

  20. some people wipe with their bare hands but call bacon unclean

  21. Isn't it typical? Here we have THE object lesson in the importance of proper spelling (and maybe even punctuation?), and Wayne is nowhere to be found.

  22. I think the fact that the misspelling of the capital city of one of our territories is somewhat embarrassing, especially for a government that goes through every statement released with a fine toothed comb. How would people react if Edmonton was mistaken for Edmunston in a press release? Or mixed up between Saint John and St. John's? Is it okay now just because "we've never made the mistake before?", or because it's in a different language? This government seems so intent on fine tuning their message that they've forgotten the very basics.

  23. I am thoroughly impressed by the fact that they have a single word for 'people with unwiped bums'. Imagine how rich a language it must be to have a single word for such a thing. Or perhaps the Nunavut language commissioner's office is having a bit of fun at CTV's expense.

      • I think I admitted my ignorance when I said 'perhaps' – but 'extremely ignorant' may be protesting a bit too much. Are we all expected to be fluent in Inuit languages? And reading Wikipedia doesn't necessarily mean that you are not still ignorant.

    • You'd also be impressed by the factoid that Harper's PMO has thirty different words to describe 'underhanded partisan tactics making use of taxpayer's money'

  24. I suppose all these people who are crowing about a spelling mistake are not the those who, on these blogs, often mix up 'their, there, they're", "your and you're", "it's and its", etc., etc.

  25. Meanwhile, The Macleans "Need-to-Know" on our federal minister of health addressing H1N1 to the CMA still has her name misspelled…

  26. They did this on purpose, to rally the base. :|

  27. They did this on purpose, to rile up the base. :|

  28. uh, so let me get this straight: Kady is supposed to spell check for PMO?

  29. So it's a typo… what's the big deal?… just the same old lieberal media pushing it. It does not even rate a byline.

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