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Gerry Ritz Jokes About Listeriosis Deaths

From September 18, 2008

On August 30th, 2008, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz held a conference call on the Listeriosis crisis with scientists, public servants, and Conservative political staff. By then there were already 12 confirmed deaths, caused by contaminated Maple Leaf deli meats. But far from handling the situation with composure and competence, Ritz focused first on how to best frame the "government's message" - and then he decided to make jokes.

Ritz, on the political perils of the situation: "This is like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts."

Ritz, when told of a new death in Prince Edward Island: "Please tell me it's [Liberal MP] Wayne Easter."

On September 17th, sources present for the call released their notes to the press.

There is no excusing this kind of behaviour from an MP, let alone from a cabinet minister during a crisis. As of September 20th, 18 Canadians have died. Ritz clearly can not handle his job. But Stephen Harper has yet to ask for Ritz's resignation.

Maybe Stephen Harper can't handle his job either.