What a difference a year makes: Conservative and NDP scandals

It was a year ago today that I covered this story:

Cannon was officially opening his campaign office in Maniwaki, Que. on Thursday when protesters from the Barriere Lake community arrived to make their demands known to Cannon.

Cannon listened to some of the group's concerns before he left in a vehicle.

However, one of his aides, Darlene Lannigan, continued to speak with Norman Matchewan, the 25-year-old man leading the protesters.

In a video clip from the Aboriginal People's Television Network, Matchewan asks if he would be arrested if he came into Cannon's office.

"If you behave, and you're sober, and there's no problems, and if you don't do a sit-down and whatever, I don't care. One of them showed up the other day and was drinking," Lannigan said in the clip.
And then my reaction:
Er, I'm sorry, this is a massive non-issue. Not only was this a staffer, but also one who had just recently had to deal with unruly intoxicated Indians from Matchewan's own lobby group. Sorry, no excitement here.

So where are we a year later? Well, its another non-issue involving Indians and the Conservative government. This time, swine-flu related bodybags:
OTTAWA – Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has apologized for the delivery of body bags to native communities as part of H1N1 flu preparations and has launched a full inquiry into how the "offensive" error was made.

"What happened is unacceptable. It was insensitive and offensive," Aglukkaq said in a statement issued this morning.

"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."

Aglukkaq said she will make the result of the inquiry public.

Her comments came shortly after Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff called on her to apologize this morning.

"What's required is a simple, frank and human apology to Canadians. This just isn't good enough," Ignatieff told reporters.

Lillian Dyck, a senator and first nations' member from Saskatchewan, said she was "in a state of shock" when she learned yesterday that body bags had been shipped by the Health Department to aboriginal communities in Manitoba.

"It's like someone had taken a knife and driven it into my heart," she said. "As a woman, how would you feel if you were worried about being infected with H1N1 and what you were sent was a body bag, indicating that your family was going to die?" Dyck said.

Aglukkaq, in her statement, warned against critics trying to "sensationalize" the mistake.

"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."

The federal Health Department has issued an apology and a clarification amid the furor over body-bag shipments to native communities preparing for the H1N1 flu virus.

The body bags were shipped to Manitoba's remote aboriginal communities, according to Health Canada, as part of orderly restocking of medical supplies to remote areas -- and not because of any direct connection with pandemic preparation.

"Health Canada apologizes for the error that was made in the number of body bags that were ordered for the Wasagamack First Nations. We regret the alarm that this incident has caused," the department said in a statement issued this afternoon.

"Health Canada delivers services in remote areas through Nursing Stations. We routinely stock commonly required medical materials such as personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies such as body bags," the statement says.Noting that the stock is replenished on an "as-needed basis," the statement went on to explain that medical supplies are shippedwell in advance to remote locations because they can often be unreachable during winter months. "It is unfortunate that this has been linked exclusively with H1N1. Whether it's a nursing station in a remote First Nations community in northern Manitoba, or a hospital in downtown Vancouver, supplies are constantly being re-stocked to prepare for unknown and unforeseen events, whether it be a plane crash, environmental disaster or pandemic," the statement says. Health Canada also hastened tooffer assurances that the number of body bags does not reflect any scientific evidence or predictions about potential H1N1 fatalities in aboriginal communities.

"Again, Health Canada apologises. We all regret the alarm caused by the stocking of this particular item. It is important to remember that our nurses are focused entirely on providing primary health care services under often-trying circumstances. We value the excellent work they perform," the statement says.

The Health Minister is in Manitoba today, meeting with provincial health ministers. Yesterday, her department issued a list of "priority" groups to get the H1N1 vaccine.
I think my above comment for the sober crack basically sums up this story as well. It's high time that Indian Chiefs whose entire communities are kept out of complete depravity by the generosity of the Canadian taxpayer take a massive chill pill when the taxpayer's course of action is exercised a little bit on the clumsy side.

The body bags may have been part of a hospital restocking, which is the current claim by Health Canada. The body bags may have been part of the H1N1 vaccine preparations as the Professional Indians claim. The kicker is that in either case, there's really no scandal here. As Colby Cosh noted on Twitter, pandemic preparations involve preparing for large numbers of deaths (ie. body bags). For those keeping score, pandemics involve large numbers of deaths, that's pretty much the dictionary definition. In other words, if the band leaders are too stupid to provide themselves with body bags, and instead outsource it to the Canadian taxpayer, there's a limit to how much they can whine when the bodybags actually show up.

That's really what we're dealing with here: rank stupidity by the Indian leaders. They want to run their "soverign nations" but in reality they aren't capable of running an icecream truck. Plum morons like this David Harper asshole have to attack the feds, because otherwise he and Ron Evans have to admit that they are incompetant. Unable to do so (and similarly unable to do the jobs they claim to assume) all they can do is raise a stink over minor issues like this.

As always, there's a reason I'm not the minister for health, or aboriginal affairs, or indeed the PM. Otherwise, I'd be making a speech along the lines of this:
Over the past 48 hours we been forced to endure endless sniping by the Leader of the Opposition, and by the so-called leadership of bands which on one hand demand our deferrence to them in matters of the operation of their communities and on the other insist that we provide them with all the necessities that their communities uniquely in Canada are unable to do on their own. It gets all the more difficult to continue to provide these services when in fact the smooth operation of Health Canada's difficult job is the thing we are criticized for. Now Mr. Ignatieff and his Liberal attack dogs which for us to apologize and to make ammends. Now I know how "ammends" and "apologies" are made in Ignatieff's ivy league universities, but here in Ottawa our government is determined to operate much as a business would, and that requires that we not apologize for doing our job.

Now the optics of such an event are unfortunate, however what Messrs Ignatieff and Evans need to understand is that the requisitioning and supply chain managment of medical supplies is not something which ministers or department heads or even mid-level functionaries conduct. It is inappropriate to expect an apology for those of us higher up the ladder without extensive information. Now matters such as this are conducted by the civil service, and undoubtedly there's a good union-dues paying civil servant who took the course of action to deliver bodybags to reserves on Manitoba. Without strong evidence to the contrary I can only assume that this decision was made based on policies and procedures that had been longstanding and brought in with a certain degree of sensibility. In other words, odds are this decision was made by some poor soul in an office in Hull who was following proper procedures and doing the right thing with what he had to ensure timely delveries of a variety of supplies to reserves along with consolidated shipments to protect the budget of the Canadian taxpayer.

However, I do understand there's some difficulty in accepting this course of events, despite the fact that for some reason the Government of Canada is now supposed to be holding off on bodybag deliveries due to what a Liberal Senator from Saskatchewan insists is the inability of Indian women to handle the sight of bodybags, or that several Chiefs returned the bodybags claiming some magical danger from the Great Crow. As a result, I think it is more than fair that the Government of Canada listens, on the condition that Indian Chiefs across Canada listen closely as well: if you don't want our bodybags, feel free to return them. We promise we will never send you bodybags again. Though your women and children might be choking in the streets, and the streams of your towns run red with the infected blood of the dead, and while your elders and your babes together shiver in the cold and die as H1N1 pandemics spread across your primitive towns, be rest assured that this government will never again be so culturally insensitive as to provide you with medical supplies of any kind. Clearly the system we have in place isn't working. I look forward to seeing the supply chain management programs that you will be instituting in its place, and give you my assurance that never again will Canadians dare to send you medical supplies. We are truely sorry.
So lets officially agree to drop this body bags nonsense. Nothing in this shows "callousness" or "uncaring" on the part of the Harper Conservatives. Memo to corrupt and incompetant Indian Chiefs: uncaring Prime Ministers would have given you nothing. Careful what you say, or the next Prime Minister might just not care.

Bonus Bodybag controversy: Kevin Libin of the National Post noted that bodybags are sort of standard fare. Something about that got me thinking, that after Swine Flu and Mexican Flu its maybe time to change the name again: H1N1 used to be accurate, but now they should change it to H1N0 - Harper 1, Natives 0

Now onto the NDP: they had their own scandal a year ago. This is also the day last year that the NDP started hemmoraging candidates. This one for being caught smoking pot. When he's a hippie. In British Columbia.

Now the NDP scandal is their decision to change their tactics to support the Tories. I covered that in detail last night, so if you're interested you can read that. But this was where the last election was on this day (less than a month before we went to the polls): serious scandals hurting the NDP and the Tories. End result? Uh, both parties gained. Maybe there's a rule in there.