Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ritz should be fired, part II

"Son of Saskatchewan woman who contracted listeriosis furious about minister Ritz's remarks." Details:
The son of a Saskatchewan woman who contracted the strain of listeriosis linked to the Maple Leaf recall is furious that the federal agriculture minister was yukking it up about the outbreak six days after her death.

Elizabeth Schroh, who died Aug. 24 at age 82, was a resident at a nursing home in Macklin, a town in the Lloydminster-Battlefords riding Gerry Ritz represents as a member of Parliament.

Dennis Schroh said he was offended when news broke that Ritz had cracked jokes about the outbreak while he was on a conference call with scientists and political staffers Aug. 30.

During the call, Ritz called the outbreak "a death by a thousand cuts - or should I say cold cuts." When told about a new death in Prince Edward Island, he blurted: "Please tell me it's Wayne Easter," referring to the Liberal agriculture critic.

"It's something a person should not be saying at this time at all. It's not a joke," Schroh said in an interview with The Canadian Press from his home in Swift Current, Sask., on Thursday. "I mean I wouldn't say that about anybody."

Schroh, who said he was a Conservative supporter prior to the story breaking, doesn't believe Ritz's apology for the remarks was sincere and wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to fire him.

"If Harper is the right kind of person to run this country, he's got to do the right thing and get rid of this minister. Simple as that," he said. "There's no doubt about it in my mind. It is going to affect the outcome of the election.

"For sure I was a Tory. Now this is going to change me. No doubt about it."
More from CanWest: "Son of listeriosis victim calls for Ritz resignation."
Just six days before Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz joked about the deaths of listeriosis victims, a woman in his own riding died after contracting the bacteria.

Elizabeth "Betty" Schroh died Aug. 24. On Aug. 30, the Conservative Ritz referred to the outbreak tied to contaminated meat products as "death by a thousand cold cuts" during a conference call with government officials. During the same conference he was told there was a new listeriosis death from Prince Edward Island, to which Ritz said: "Please tell me it's (Liberal critic) Wayne Easter."

Schroh's son, Dennis Schroh, said he's normally a Conservative supporter but is "appalled" by Ritz's remarks.

"I was very hurt," he said in a phone interview. "It's something that should never have been said. He's a grown man. He should know better. As far as I'm concerned, he should get fired.

"If Harper's got any backbone, he should get rid of this gentleman here. My mother has gone through hell from June until the day she died. Words like that hurt everybody in the family." (emphasis added)