Much has been made of the tasteless remarks by Conservative Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. What I wonder is: Was Ritz drunk on the job?
The remarks were made in a conference call with members of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on August 30 during the listeriosis crisis, in which 17 people died of tainted meat. Ritz joked during the call that the crisis was causing the government a death of a thousand cuts - "or should I say the death of a thousand cold cuts." When he was informed that one death had taken place in Prince Edward Island, Ritz said, "please tell me it's Wayne Easter." (Easter is the Liberal agriculture critic.)
The jokes are incredibly tasteless in any case, but it is beyond belief that he would make them over the phone to a large group of people, some of whom he didn’t know. It would still be tasteless, but at least understandable, if he were talking to a group of people he knew well who shared his politics.
We need more information about this call:
* What time of day did the call occur?
* Did he exhibit any other strange behaviour, such as slurring his words? How was his general demeanor during the call?
* Does Ritz have a history of drinking to excess?
* Does Ritz (like Mulroney) substitute alcohol with Nyquil or other medication?