About those body bags


A statement from the Health Minister.

“During a conference call with First Nations organizations yesterday morning it was brought to my attention that there were reports out of Manitoba that Health Canada had delivered body bags to a remote First Nation Community in that province as part of H1N1 preparations for the Fall.”

“What happened is unacceptable. It was insensitive and offensive. As Minister of Health and as an aboriginal I am offended. To all who took offence at what occurred, I want to say that I share your concern and I pledge to get to the bottom of it. I have ordered my Deputy Minister to conduct a thorough and immediate inquiry into the situation. I will make the result of the inquiry public.  I will continue to work with First Nations communities and the provinces and territories to ensure all Canadians are informed and protected against H1N1.

“I was born and raised in remote communities and I understand the challenges better then anyone – that’s why I have met frequently with First Nations organizations. Anyone suggesting that our Government’s solution to H1N1 is body bags is sensationalizing this situation.

“There is strong co-operation taking place with First Nations people at the community, regional and national levels, as well as with provinces and territories, to ensure that all Canadians are informed of and protected from the H1N1flu virus.  As Health Minister I am fully committed to these efforts.”


About those body bags

  1. Quick Wherry, try and spin this story as being somehow the Conservatives fault!

    • Has Wherry every responded to your childish taunts?

      • And how dare they prepare for possible deaths! The shame of it all! Don't they know we should just burn the bodies?

  2. I have to admit I am surprised by the visceral reaction to this.

    Of course it is not pleasant to think about, but the fact is that H1N1 has caused several deaths, and people are unsure about the virulence of the new strain. Of course I would expect Health Canada to provide assistance with dealing with the outbreak in the living, but is it not prudent planning to be prepared in case the outbreak is worse than expected or claims more lives than expected?

    • Which is most likely how some person in the Ministry thought this through as well. Of course the message it sends to remote communities (who most likely already have their supply of bodybags somewhere) is pretty callous. It sure comes across as "well you're effed, and here's what we're gonna to do help you out…so long suckas!" (or something to that effect)

      I agree with you, I doubt there was any malice in their thinking…but man, for those opening the package it sure cold and uncaring.

      • It'd seem a lot colder and uncaring to not even provide for the possibility of fatalities or the necessary safe handling of H1N1-infected bodies in such an event, no?

        • Really though? I mean, I get that this is likely being blown out of proportion, but you can't really think that "You're all gonna die, but here's some bags to dispose of all the bodies in" is really measurably less cold and more caring than a simple "You're all gonna die".

          Frankly, if I came to the warehouse to pick up the H1N1 preparedness supplies from the Feds and the boxes were empty, I think that would actually bother me less then finding the boxes full of body bags. Sure, the former says "you're screwed" almost as effectively, but I'm absolutely certain no one waiting for the emergency pandemic supplies opened one of those boxes and thought "Well, that was thoughtful of the Feds! Now we'll be able to dispose of all the dead bodies in a safe and responsible manner".

          So, sure, the body bags are important, an likely prudent planning, but given the history of our treatment of native peoples, perhaps it'd be advisable to send a box full of stuff that might actually save some people from the flu first, and a box full of body bags second?

    • Sure, it's prudent planning, but COME ON. This is the same federal department that was slow in sending hand sanitizer to the most flu-at-risk area of the country because, well, you know them Indians and the firewater. Then, the first supplies that actually start arriving are BODY BAGS!?!?!

      Most certainly prudent planning probably necessitates sending up more body bags, but the optics of this are obvious and offensive, and it would appear that the Health Minister's own response is similarly and appropriately visceral. This is like a group of people asking the government for help them with post-secondary education, and getting a shipment of books titled "101 jobs you can get without going to university". Except, of course, that instead of "Ha, ha! You're all gonna remain undereducated" the message the recipients got in this case was "Ha, ha! You're all going to die".

  3. Mr Ignatieff and his caucus would be well advised to be very careful how forcefully they attack the Health Minister on this one. Over partisanship could come back and bite them.

    • I would offer the same advice to certain media outlets, but it would appear to be too late. Is this a news story, an opinion piece, or an opposition press release?

  4. Although, as a Liberal, I will gleefully and with great relish make as much political hay out of this as possible, the fact is, this the standard of unconscious behaviour with which most people do their work these days.

    • That's the spirit.

      She is apparently looking for a bureacrat to blame.

    • Yes, terrible behavior, trying to prepare for a possible out break. How evil of them nasty Conservative nurses!

  5. From CBC News: "The federal health minister has ordered an inquiry into why the government sent body bags to Manitoba aboriginal reserves as part of preparation kits for a possible swine flu outbreak."

    Answer: Because sometimes people die in outbreak situations, and body bags are what's used to contain the body of the deceased person(s).

    And we need an inquiry to answer this?

    • Well we must, because we all know that Harper's party wouldn't waste taxpayer money in worthless activities.

    • Not only contain the body, but contain the disease from spreading… which just so happens to require beefed-up body bags. But Iggy wants an appology, and presumably for all FN to send the body bags back.

  6. Yes, that is clearly what the First Nations and the Minister seem to think.

    {Smacks head with hand}

  7. Found in the garbage outside the PMO after Ms Aglukkaq sent them her first draft of press release: "And, on behalf of this government and my Ministry, I wholeheartedly and unreservedly apologize for this error, for which I take full responsibility as your Minister."

    Look to Aglukkaq, to Raitt, to all those other Ministers and even the Harper who like to blame every screw up on staffers, we all know that you did not personally screw up. We all know that you did not personally know about it ahead of time. We all know that, if you did know that the binder was left at the studio or your girlfriends house or body bags were being shipped or the leader of the opposition didn't actually say what you told the world he said or the party press release was being charged as a government expense etc, you would have prevented the screw up.

    So now that you know that, feel free to take some responsibility for actions taken by your ministry or government every now and then. That is the essence of responsible government.

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