The Commons: Shameful, callous, disrespectful, unacceptable, insensitive

The House debates the “body bag incident”

by Aaron Wherry

090917_toddrussell[4]The Scene. Nothing quite calms the barroom atmosphere of an afternoon in the House of Commons quite like death. Or, in this case, the theoretical possibility of same.

So that silence descended today once it became clear that Todd Russell (left) was opening Question Period with something of such seriousness.

“Mr. Speaker, imagine that you, your child or your grandmother has H1N1. Imagine people who live in fear at the spread of this disease. Imagine being a community leader or health worker pleading for help, trying to prepare and too often doing so on your own,” he began, speaking evenly and deliberately. “What message does it send a person, their people and their community when the government will not send medicine but will send body bags? Will the Minister of Health own up to her responsibilities and apologize for this shameful incompetence?”

There were some grumbles and groans from the government side.

The Health Minister was otherwise engaged, so it was John Baird sent up to offer a response.

“Mr. Speaker, I totally agree with the member for Labrador,” he said. “What happened in recent events is unacceptable. It is incredibly insensitive and offensive. The Minister of Health has ordered her department to conduct a thorough and immediate inquiry into this matter and the results of that inquiry will be made public.”

Russell, a Metis, stood again.

“Mr. Speaker, the body bag incident was indeed callous. It was disrespectful and insensitive. It brings to mind an episode from history in my own riding,” he said. “There was an influenza outbreak. The colonial government at the time did not send help. It did not send medicine. It sent planks to make coffins and bury the dead. That was 90 years ago. I would have hoped, as all Canadians would have hoped, that things have changed. How can First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities trust their health and well being to the government? How can any Canadian trust their health and well being to the government?”

More grumbles, but more agreement, of a sort.

“Mr. Speaker, I again agree with the member opposite. It was unacceptable. It was incredibly insensitive. Indeed, it was offensive,” Baird offered. “The Minister of Health put out a statement earlier today in which she was very clear that she finds this act to be totally inappropriate. She has ordered an inquiry from her department. She is incredibly concerned about it and we will make the results of that inquiry public for all parliamentarians and all Canadians.”

Then it was Anita Neville’s turn. “Mr. Speaker, last spring, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development visited Island Lake, Manitoba. What did he see? He saw limited water facilities and overcrowded, mouldy homes. What did he do? He did almost nothing,” she reported. “The communities were soon hit with H1N1. They waited and waited for help. Little real help came, but body bags came. Will the outcry over this shameful response force the government to get serious about the real need of Manitoba’s aboriginal communities?”

From the government side, Vic Toews and Gary Goodyear heckled.

Chuck Strahl took up the Conservative cause. “Mr. Speaker, we share the outrage at what happened just recently with this incident. It was insensitive, of course. It was objectionable and it understandably got the reaction it did from the chiefs and communities involved,” he said. “We have an extensive program. For example, we announced $330 million in the budget for waste water treatment. We have announced additional funds for housing, both in the stimulus package and in the regular funding. We are working with First Nations to do more to address some of these root causes.”

There were grumbles from the Liberal side. Marcel Proulx picked up the questioning, taking aim again at government efforts. Mr. Strahl was no longer willing to hold fire.

“When we came to office, we had 197 communities that were high-risk water systems that we inherited from the Liberal Party. We now have that down to less than 60,” he said. “There is always more to do, but I will not be lectured by a party that left us with 197 high-risk water systems.”

His government mates stood to applaud his effort.

After four rounds from the Bloc Quebecois on continental trade, Jack Layton resumed the discussion.

“Mr. Speaker, imagine how the chiefs, the leaders and the nurses must have felt when they opened up what they thought were going to be H1N1 kits and they found body bags, 30 of them in Wasagamack First Nation, 20 of them in God’s Lake First Nations, more in other communities,” he said. ”As the chief of the AFN told me today, it demonstrated a disturbing lack of respect for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people and their leaders. Body bags will not halt the spread of the virus. It will not stop the disease. These communities need help and I would call on the government to explain when it is going to start working with the leadership.”

The government turned again to Mr. Baird. “Mr. Speaker, the government has been very clear,” he said. “I have been very clear. The Minister of Health has been very clear. What happened was inexcusable. It was unfortunate, it was regrettable, it was incredibly insensitive.”

A Liberal voice called out for an apology, an obviously futile request. An apology is an admission of fault, a demonstration of weakness. And, as such, it is of absolutely last resort for a politician.

Mr. Layton suggested the government was better prepared to bury the dead than deal with the flu, the Conservative members howled in protest. John Baird appealed for some decency. Mr. Layton returned to his feet undaunted.

“Mr. Speaker, let us stop the excuses here,” he shot back. “There is no plan for assisting these communities to deal with the H1N1 crisis. That is the problem. If the government wants to respond to the situation of the body bags, then bring forward a plan, put it here so people can know what it is, but more importantly, be in touch with the First Nations leadership of this country that are waiting to work with the people in their communities to prevent the spread of this terrible disease. Where is the plan? Put it on the table. That is the best response to the situation we are facing now.”

John Baird responded once more. “Mr. Speaker, neither the minister nor this government offers any excuses. What happened was inexcusable and the minister is pledging on behalf of all Canadians to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “As we speak, the Minister of Health is meeting with her provincial and territorial colleagues to work on dealing with this challenge. In a statement earlier today she said: ‘There is strong cooperation taking place with First Nations people, with the community regional and national levels as well as with the provinces and territories to ensure that all Canadians are informed and protected from H1N1 virus and as Minister of Health I am fully committed to those efforts.’

“The people of Canada can depend on this Minister of Health to get the job done.”

With that, the House moved to sparring over who precisely was to blame for the country’s failure to adequately care for the unemployed, the familiar ruckus returning to this place.

The Stats. First Nations, ten questions. Trade, employment, taxation and technology, four questions each. Poverty, fisheries, farmers and seniors, two questions each. Communism, transportation, Israel and firefighters, one question each.

John Baird, seven answers. Diane Finley, six answers. Chuck Strahl, Stockwell Day and Tony Clement, four answers each. Ted Menzies, three answers. Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Gail Shea and Gerry Ritz, two answers each. Jason Kenney, Peter Kent, Christian Paradis and James Moore, one answer each.

The Commons: Shameful, callous, disrespectful, unacceptable, insensitive

  1. Sometimes I think that there are certain stories that should be – how can I say this – shelved and never used to score political points but then I guess you run into that old free speech issue. When you get right down to it I think they should all be ashamed of themselves as well as the media for making this into headlines. This is one of those real life stoires that goes nowhere has no resolution is based upon regualr run of the mill human behavour and only adds fuel to existing fires and is just too damn irresistible for polticians not to use – the whole lot of them and the media lose in the end.

    • That was my sense too: the question was appropriate to ask – once – and given the straightforward answer it ought to have been dropped.

    • I admit I felt more inclined that way until I read Wherry's reporting of Russell's comment on historical context and question. Very poignant.

      • I agree with you. I hadn't heard this isn't the first time we've done this. Yes, I know this information doesn't change how this probably happened, which is understandable from the Ministry of Health point of view (not acceptable, just understandable) but it sure would be a bigger deal than the awful deal it already was from the First Nations point of view. No, now I think, even though it is still human error, misunderstanding and all, that an apology is required.

      • Yes, I think politicians often ignore these issues. Even though nothing can be down now to revert the mistake… it still brings attention to a very serious problem. Hopefully, they buck up and do something about it… we are all watching (for) now.

    • The wafflegate story was low for the media. However, this was another new low and continues to remind Canadians that gotcha journalism is alive and well in this country. Can you imagine what would be said if the northern reserves had no body bags and they were losing people because of H1N1 or any other disease. The government is proactive and they are being criticized unfairly with the most sleazy type of journalism.

      • Spinning this issue from either side is distasteful.

        Somebody messed up badly. Health Canada and the Minister both issued statements agreeing that somebody messed up badly. Why can't you?

        Spare us all your Alfred E Neumann rhetoric please.

        • How many body bags would have been appropriate? How many (or few) would have meant that the department didn't "mess up." The Minister can blow all the hot air she wants, she's just singing for the media because she doesn't know what else to do. When all else fails, call for some bureaucrat's head. Every community needs body bags. If they got a few too many, that's better than getting one too few.

      • Wafergate, not Wafflegate! ;-)

  2. All right, I hate Baird (with a passion), but I can sometimes understand his childish douche-bag remarks when given questions like this. He was asked the same question, what, seven times? The opposition is more outraged about this than GM getting 10 billion dollars. Nobody wants Harper to be a distant, dark memory more than I, but one of the opposition party's needs to get priorities straight and their principle's in line. Right now, they're protesting for the sake of protesting.

  3. All right, I hate Baird (with a passion), but I can sometimes understand his childish douche-bag remarks when given questions like this. He was asked the same question, what, seven times? The opposition is more outraged about this than GM getting 10 billion dollars. Nobody wants Harper to be a distant, dark memory more than I, but one of the opposition party's needs to get their priorities straight and their principle's in line. Right now, they're protesting for the sake of protesting.

    • From Wherry's accounts, it seems there is the body bag issue but there is also the whole handling of the H1N1 issue and in particular the handling of the H1N1 virus in native communities.

      The body bags incident merely highlights and very visible way the government's lack of full engagement on this very real and very serious health issue.

      • Yes it's a serious issue, but providing the Conservatives with help over how to answer the problem would be the adult thing to do. Not that the Conservatives would actually listen to the advice, but at least the opposition would be trying to make a bad situation better. Bitching and complaining isn't governing, it's bitching and complaining. The problem is that the current political scene in Ottawa is so fragile, that the efforts of the party's are centralized on how to 1) look better than the other party, 2) gain cheap political points over small issues, because big issues are controversial and you might fail so you don't talk about it (like the GM bail-out) and 3) making it LOOK like your party is doing something when in reality you're doing NOTHING but plan and scheme against your opponent. All party's are acting like this (with exception to the Bloc, who just sits there most of the time). It isn't necessarily that the Conservatives are inept, all though it's a big part of the problem, it's that all party's have nothing worth saying to add to the conversation, so all we get is white noise.

        • It's interest that some of the more introspective comments here – reasoned and showing restraint but a good respect for the issue – are not from the Harper party. Seems like they're aware that their hypocrisy would be showing in full colour if they were to remark how this one story/comment was being played like a fiddle for partisan reasons, when you can't turn on the TV without hearing the bleating of the CON anti-coalition commercials as signaled by their one-time coalition seeking so-called leader.

    • Of course, the Conservatives never, ever, not once, in opposition, asked question after question on the same subject for the whole 45 minutes.

      • Sometimes there's a place for it, although I know the Conservatives are just as bad for abusing it as the other parties when they're in opposition.

        Regardless, I don't think this was one of those times.

      • Not this subject, I'm pretty sure.

  4. "How can First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities trust their health and well being to the government? How can any Canadian trust their health and well being to the government?”

    The Cons grumbled? They should have been cheering loudly in full agreement. If only more people thought this way we wouldn't have inane scandals like this because locals would be making their own preparations.

    This is the stupidest scandal since communion incident! Grow up people, part of preparation for potential pandemic is making sure you have way to dispose of the dead.

    • I've been guilty of taking this story too seriously, for sure, but I also think some people are blowing it off too easily too. Is it mostly an issue of symbolism? Sure. But still, the symbolism is HORRIBLE, and symbols do matter.

      I wholeheartedly agree that part of preparation for potential pandemic is making sure you have way to dispose of the dead. It probably shouldn't be part #1 though. Particularly when dealing with a population that is vulnerable, disadvantaged, and has been calling for more help for months and months. Let's not forget that the Federal Department that displayed such efficiency in making sure these communities had an overabundance of body bags is the same one that hemmed and hawed over whether or not to send them hand sanitizer for fear that the Injuns might drink it all.

      I'm just sayin', you can forgive people for having an emotional reaction to a story that involves First Nations, highly contagious disease, and supply drops from the government. It's not like there's a long history of these things being combined in a way that had a happy outcome for the first group.

    • 200 body bags for sparse population of northern Manitoba FN communities is gross overkill in the worst sense, and a low priority as compared with sending Tamiflu shots which isolated clinics are having difficulty obtaining.

      A bigger issue is that no one from PHAC communicated about what they were sending and why or when. Communication was already an issue last Spring, perhaps somewhat excuable because of the haste in which PHAC needed to respond, but that was further strained by the paternalistic decision to withhold alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

      Trust is important because we need people to stay calm and follow the public health authorities' recommendations for preventing the spread of infection.

  5. What a waste of a question period. It's unbelievable that so much time was devoted to the Opposition's fundamentally disingenuous attacks over what was essentially a mundane error made by some bureaucrat or shipping clerk.

    • Unbelievable?
      You retain more faith than I.

  6. I don't understand why this government consistently and frequently finds itself on the wrong side of apologies to Canadian people. Where does the buck stop? I don't think you can BE in charge, and reasonably claim you aren't accountable.

    The body bags have grabbed the headlines — they're Raittworthily sexy after all — but go to the Globe and Mail Video section and listen to what Chief Harper says — it's more about what his community has not received, and the shock of the first supplies they've been waiting and waiting for to show up including the body bags when they still don't have the coveted 'preparedness kits.'

    I actually think this issue is more serious than it currently is being treated, and will be around longer than the tawdry explanation from the Department would like.

    Adding to the issue is the fact of the current virulent H1N1 outbreak in a remote BC FN area; I think one person has died and many are sick.

    • I agree MJ – I think many of the pols posting here are not very sensitive to the First Nation issues. It is not just a case of a bureaucratic error. You could say many mistakes by the cons have been bureaucratic errors; and the pols on this site haven't been so quick in the past to say its not worth the debate.

      There is historical context re: small pox epidemic,… It seems there's some discounting of First Nation plight – its roots are complicated and in light of the slow government response, it would trigger some raw emotions for those who might have experienced significant racism in the past (and present).

      Imagine being the leader of your community and the issue of H1N1 is scaring the hell out of your constituency, and the first, albeit practical in some ways, supplies you receive are body bags.

  7. When I read "debates" like this, I realize that I'd only last a day as an MP before I'd have to shoot myself.

  8. When I read "debates" like this, I realize that I'd only last a day as an MP before I'd have to shoot myself in self-defense.

  9. I think it is the Conservative supporters who are little too focused on the body bags, perhaps to distract from what the real questions were today and what the real issue is.

    From Wherry's accounts, it seems there is the body bag issue but there is also the whole handling of the H1N1 issue and in particular the handling of the H1N1 virus in native communities.

    The body bags incident merely highlights and very visible way the government's lack of full engagement on this very real and very serious health issue.

    • I just saw a live broadcast of the health minister from Winnipeg, talking about the H1N1 plans. She was very nervous and answered questions at great length — too-great-length, I imagine her PR person told her. What I got from it is that every Canadian can have a vaccine by November, I think she said…but they are still being tested for safety before we can get them, and the government is going to analyze those tests…and that information scared me…and does she mean Canadians every where in the world, or just here in Canada?

      I think there are preparedness issues. That are way more important than the probe to find out who packed the wrong supplies. I think you're right — it may be a deliberate misfocus.

      • "They are still being tested for safety before we can get them", and you find this "scary"? It's Health Canada's freaking job to test vaccines before they administer them.

        It's almost as if you're being deliberately alarmist and disingenuous for partisan purposes. You know… a "deliberate misfocus".

  10. Yeah, the pols are exploiting the whole thing, all of them. Too bad. I wish that instead of trying to score political marks that they had invited Chief Harper to express how his community feels and to recognize that the preparations are not in place. Had a dialogue with him. They can't act if they don't know, right?

  11. Now I'm really scared — that's a nice little website of platitudes — "the Government of Canada is prepared…" but it's not a plan. I don't imagine they would release it to the public. I guess we are meant to believe!

    Notaplan — new campaign slogan.

    • I deleted my original little rant when I discovered that Indeed there is a button for flu information that does take you to the right spot on the front page of gc.ca, only it's 2/3 of the way down on the right. I also had enlarged the font so it was off the page but search wasn't. At least I have a computer and internet and can find it. what about everybody else.
      I understand there are flu ads on the radio now but I can't find a link to listen to the ads on any of the hits in google (mainly CTV affiliate news sites).

      So try harder Govt. to get the word out and don't send body bags.

    • Patchouli, you hack.

  12. I, for one, am deeply disappointed that at no point today did our elected representatives — the self-proclaimed "defenders of Canada's interests" — spontaneously rise in unison to applaud the seal hunt. This country is slipping.

  13. Why did medical supplies being sent somewhere become news in the first place?

    • I smell Warren Kinsella and the Liberal war room.

    • Good question.

      Because they were body bags, because a Chief or two managed to work enough photogenic outrage, and because a bunch of camera crews were around to record a Chief writing "return to sender" on a box of these ominous plastic packages. ANd because a bunch of opposition MPs and media hacks just couldn't help themselves. That's why.

    • Good question.

      Because they were body bags, because a Chief or two managed to work up enough photogenic outrage, and because a bunch of camera crews were around to record a Chief writing "return to sender" on a box of these ominous plastic packages. ANd because a bunch of opposition MPs and media hacks just couldn't help themselves. That's why.

    • Good question.

      Because they were body bags, because a Chief or two managed to work up enough photogenic outrage, and because a bunch of camera crews were around to record a Chief writing "return to sender" on a box of these ominous plastic packages. And because a bunch of opposition MPs and media hacks just couldn't help themselves. That's why.

      • Methinks it was Senator Finley, trying to deflect from his own shipment of anti-monarchist haggis to the Shetland Highlands…

        • You mean the fact that medical support supplies that were drastically needed were not shipped from Health Canada, but a bundle of body bags to a community facing a dangerous outbreak isn't news? I'd dare say if a community of white men and women, requesting help to battle an oncoming attacker, were sent body bags instead of resources that would be front and centre on CNN and Fox News. Of course, it likely happened dozens of times in previous centuries — the ignorance and ambivalence that the First Nations have faced, that is.

          • Uh, Dan, a few of the reports actually pointed out that there were more supplies than just body bags in those packages. Doesn't fit the New-World guilt trip we all seem to be enjoying around here, but sometimes the truth is indeed a little inconvenient. But have faith: even those reports that allowed that there were other supplies didn't mention what they were, because a bundle of body bags, well, that's news, you see…

  14. I'm interested in the assertion by Strahl that they elimanated 70% of the high risk water systems. How did they do this? Elimanating 70% of anything in three years or so is an astounding figure, much less something that would appear to be resource intensive and would require significant outlays of money.

    On first blush it seems like an incredible feat for even a highly motivated government (and I find it somewhat hard to believe that these Conservatives are all that concerned about Native issues…they are still opposed to the Declaration of Rights for Indigineous Persons right?)

    Anybody know what's going on here?

    • Richard, it may interest you to know that it was Conservatives that first gave Native Peoples the right to vote. As far as Chuck's referencing the work that needed to be done when the Liberals were ejected from the throne, he's not too far off the mark. Just fyi.

      • Hi Paul,

        I was in fact aware that it was Diefenbaker who gave Natives the right to vote (without losing their treaty rights), that's why I said "these" Conservatives. And these Conservatives don't exactly seem to place Native issues on the front burner (what with refusing to honour the Kelowna Accord and joining the United States, Australia and New Zealand as the only nations to reject the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Persons).

        I'm not trying to score any partisan points here, I'm genuinely interested to know how exactly they were able to correct 70% of a pretty serious issue, one that I suspect (I actually have no idea what exactly is involved in process) would require significant amounts of resources and money.

        Does anyone know what the process is for correcting high risk water systems? Is it actually as expensive/intensive as it sounds? And if so, why aren't we hearing about this work more often?

      • Hi Paul,

        I was in fact aware that it was Diefenbaker who gave Natives the right to vote (without losing their treaty rights), that's why I said "these" Conservatives. And these Conservatives don't exactly seem to place Native issues on the front burner (what with refusing to honour the Kelowna Accord and joining the United States, Australia and New Zealand as the only nations to reject the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Persons).

        I'm not trying to score any partisan points here, I'm genuinely interested to know how exactly they were able to correct 70% of a pretty serious issue, one that I suspect (I actually have no idea what exactly is involved in process) would require significant amounts of time, resources and money.

        Does anyone know what the process is for correcting high risk water systems? Is it actually as expensive/intensive as it sounds? And if so, why aren't we hearing about this work more often?

    • The Department of Indian Affairs has most of the information available here:

      http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ai/mr/nr/j-a2008/2-298

      Mostly it's giving money to these communities so that they can have their water issues dealt with, but there is actually a coherent strategy too (links found on that page). One thing about this particular department is that it's had some of the best ministers in a weak cabinet – Prentice and Strahl – since the Tories took power, so perhaps it isn't surprising that they've made significant strides.

      • The backgrounder they link to highlights Ontario projects, and it's dated for October 2008. Basically, it's a truckload of upgrades to existing water treatment systems, or new systems entirely.

        A good place to spend public dollars.

  15. Let's recap a bit, shall we?

    Substance abuse is a very real concern on several reserves. Some very desperate people are swallowing mouthwash and aftershave, and dying. Saturating the community with alcohol-based sanitizer could well kill more than save. At least the whole thing is worthy of some hesitation while some actuarial risk profile people might help us out. Conclusion: it's racist for whitey in Ottawa to even think in those terms.

    One or two Chief(s) get(s) frustrated because a government department is acting exactly like government departments work: at a pace that makes upward-bound molasses feel sorry for 'em. They reach the conclusion that such hygiene products are indeed a good idea for their communities. And, I hope you're all sitting down: They actually go and get some. But please don't ask why other communities don't fly someone out to Costco to stock up, because your Conclusion on page 204 of the hymn book is: racist whitey in Ottawa wants all Natives to just die already.

    One single health unit on one single reserve gets lauded from all corners, because they took a pandemic preparedness template provided by Health Canada, adapted it for H1N1 and local realities, and figured out how to get ready for what's coming. Bravo. But don't permit yourself to wonder why the local services everywhere else are so incapable of doing their job in similar fashion, because the right and proper conclusion is that Aglukkaq is too busy being a partisan heartless Tory to give a darn about First Nations peoples.

    Finally, pandemic kits arrive from the central planning department in Tunney's Pasture, or wherever. The kits have body bags because — news flash — people die in pandemics, and this was after all a pandemic preparedness kit. Conclusion: well, see the last 24-36-hour news cycle.

    This is beyond pathetic.

  16. Let's recap a bit, shall we?

    Substance abuse is a very real concern on several reserves. Some very desperate people are swallowing mouthwash and aftershave, and dying. Saturating the community with alcohol-based sanitizer could well kill more than save. At least the whole thing is worthy of some hesitation while some actuarial risk profile people might help us out. Conclusion: it's racist for whitey in Ottawa to even think in those terms.

    One or two Chief(s) get(s) frustrated because a government department is acting exactly like government departments work: at a pace that makes upward-bound molasses feel sorry for 'em. They reach the conclusion that such hygiene products are indeed a good idea for their communities. And, I hope you're all sitting down: They actually go and get some. But please don't ask why other communities don't fly someone out to Costco to stock up, because your Conclusion on page 204 of the hymn book is: racist whitey in Ottawa wants all Natives to just die already.

    One single health unit on one single reserve gets lauded from all corners, because they took a pandemic preparedness template provided by Health Canada, adapted it for H1N1 and local realities, and figured out how to get ready for what's coming. Bravo. But don't permit yourself to wonder why the local services everywhere else are so incapable of doing their job in similar fashion, because the right and proper Conclusion is that Aglukkaq is too busy being a partisan heartless Tory to give a darn about First Nations peoples.

    Finally, pandemic kits arrive from the central planning department in Tunney's Pasture, or wherever. The kits have body bags because — news flash — people die in pandemics, and this was after all a pandemic preparedness kit. Conclusion: well, see the last 24-36-hour news cycle.

    This is beyond pathetic.

  17. A few months ago I took a flight across the country to attend a meeting. And you would not believe the outrage that the airline subjected me to before take-off. The patronizing disrespectful creeps figured I couldn't handle the seat belt ("insert the latch into the buckle, and tighten the strap snug over your lap…"). They had the callous gall to remind me that there are emergency exits at the front, at the rear, and, god forbid, over the wings. They made a shameful decision to design the seat so that the cushion could serve as a flotation device — where can I send that back? And, for heaven's sake, it's like they're trying to make us sick by having oxygen masks waiting to plop down onto our heads — why can't they just bloody well make sure we don't depressurize the cabin in the first place?

    • because it is so obvious you are the only one with brains and in the whole world and everything else is beneath you and they aint as smart as you idiot…didnt know idiots could fly

  18. MYL Exclusive! Must credit MYL!!!

    Police departments across the country are fully stocked with helmets, shields, batons, pepper spray, and strategically placed water cannons. Write your outraged letters now to your MPs, people! What are you waiting for?

  19. MYL Exclusive! Must credit MYL!!!

    Police departments across the country are fully stocked with helmets, shields, batons, pepper spray, and strategically placed water cannons. It's like they're just waiting for riots to happen! Write your outraged letters to your MPs NOW, people! What are you waiting for?

    • another idiot…go away ungrateful sperm

  20. Another low point in Question Period and in the Canadian media when they decide the subject of the day should be body bags. How distasteful and blatant gotcha journalism as ever I have seen. Watching Tom Clark describing it as a powder keg. What universe does he live in? Oh, I know the sleazy world of gotcha journalism that resides within the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa. That's where.

    • Look, CTV will carry your team's water when you give them half a reason to. To ask them to ignore an obvous story — blown out of proportion a tad and not so terribly reacted on by the current minister — after all the crap you've been applauding and cheering on over the past half a decade is just a little odorous. Again, if it was your community, your grandmother, who opened up a box of supplies in the face of a possible deadly epidemic and the main item she found was body bags, I'd say you'd be calling your local MP or media to scream, too.

      • Yes! I expect any clinic I visit to be completely out of necessary supplies. How dare they keep a stock of anything!

        Liberals everywhere need to go to their local clinics and demand that all the body bags be sent back!

  21. So, just out of morbid curoiusousty, what do cops and clinic workers normally use when someone dies on a reserve?

    • Pemmican.

      ..sigh.. there goes my karma.

  22. Liberals practicing their brand of necro-politics, just like they did with Cadman and now the aboriginals, who are quite willing to be in partnership with their Liberal benefactors. What Canada needs is a majority Conservative gov't to clean out the Dept of Indian Affairs once and for all, because $10 Billion annually is not value for taxpayer's money … and most everybody will agree with that assessment. Aboriginals deserve better ….

  23. Send body bags to Afghanistan for our soldiers.

  24. Look out! Medicial supplies were sent to a clinic! Harper is evil!

    How could he not have prevented these supplies from being delivered?

    The Liberals should demand all body bags be returned from all clinics across Canada so peoples feeling aren't hurt!

  25. What was the "communism" question?

  26. Okay people who think it's no big deal:

    Wasagamack (Population 1122) was sent 30 body bags. Using an average Canadian total mortality of 600 per 100,000 per year (2001 data same year as population) that means Wasagamack got enough body bags to last 4 years. Even accounting for higher mortality rates for First Nations people that's overkill in the worst sense.

    If your community was supplied with 4 times the amount of body bags it needs for a whole year, not just the flu season, and you were still waiting for Tamiflu to treat people, what message would you take from that?

    John Baird said it was inexcusable, and he was right. So stop trying to excuse it.

    • I guess we had better return all the body bags then and dismiss those evil nurses for placing their supply order. The government should realize that Canada is full of over sensitive politically correct whiners and should not do anything which could lead to any hurt feelings.

      Maybe the HRC should be notified and a full blown investigation be started.

    • So if they sent fewer vaccines than required, would that mean that fewer people would get sick?

    • what message would you take from that?

      I think any normal person would not take any message from that. In the same vein, when the mail arrives in the morning, I don't take a message from that either, I don't think there is a sinister mailman conspiracy if I got less mail than usual.

      There is no message. They sent bodybags because they figure the natives might need them, and if the natives don't use them they can be saved and used at any point over the next 1000 year period, I'm sure they don't wear out, and I'm sure that natives are not immortal. They didn't send tamiflu because it's not like applies, it doesn't grow on trees, I'm sure they will send the tamiflu when they can.

      Why on earth do you think there's a message?

    • John Baird said it was inexcusable because there was a outrage and that's what politicians do. If he said the natives were whiners, what message do you think that would send?

  27. Of course John Baird said it was "inexcusable". That's what politicians do when faced with an embarrassing situation – blame the bureaucrats and demand somebody's head.

    Would you (and Baird) rather they not send enough body bags? These are the types of things you routinely stock "too much" of. Just like most of the time, we have "too many" firefighters, "too many" police officers, "too many" emergency room beds, etc… Everything is overkill until you need it. Then it becomes "Why was the government not prepared for this??"

    • Haven't been to an energency room in Canada lately, eh, RR?

    • Haven't been to an emergency room in Canada lately, eh, RR?

  28. (myl's satirical fictional) NEWS RELEASE — Embargo until Monday September 21, 2009 at 8:00 AM EDT

    Headline: Scouts Canada Apologizes for Culturally Insensitive Motto

    OTTAWA — The National Executive of Scouts Canada has issued a nationwide alert to Rover Crews, Venturer Companies, Scout Troops, Cub Packs and Beaver Colonies that the Scout Motto "Be Prepared" may be misconstrued as sending the message that one is inviting harm and disaster. As such, the motto is suspended until further notice. Scouts Canada apologizes to anyone who may be offended by the message.

    "Scout Troops must place duct tape over the offending motto on the banner beneath the fleur-de-lys symbol on their flags at the next meeting, ceremony or camp" ordered Program Operations Director Terrence O'Brien. "We will advise as soon as possible, whether the initial suggestion of adding the text 'if that's ok with everyone' will be officially added to the motto, following an emergency meeting of the National Executive to be held next week."

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