Yes, too soon: Liveblogging Ag Min Gerry Ritz's statement on those unfortunate listeria jokes

10:11:54 PM
Well, this is unexpected. (I really ought to make that a macro.) I’m currently hurtling down Wellington Street, berry in hand, enroute to Confederation Building, where, we’re told by the Conservative Party, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz may have something to say about his ill-advised foray into gallows humour at the height of last month’s listeria crisis. Oh, who among us hasn’t made the occasional morbid crack about the death of an opposition MP, you might ask.

Well, what did Ritz in, from what ITQ can see, is that he had the lack of presence of mind to do it on a conference call which included bureaucrats are on the line – that just gave me a Princess Bride flashback, y’all – which is a particularly unwise decision when your government has prided itself on its combative relationship with the civil service.

So here we are, outside Confed enjoying in the crisp autumn air, awaiting what is billed only as a “statement” — not, I should note, that this will stop the questions from being asked, but I, for one, will be shocked if there are actual answers.

He’s due to arrive at 10:30. I’ll be back then.

10:20:55 PM
We’re taking bets as to whether he’s going to apologize, or resign, or both — the fact that it was the party that announced his appearance and not the government suggests to me that this may be the final crumble of the cracker.

This is the oddest locale for a presser, by the way — it’s not just on a set of stairs outside the main entrance, but there’s ongoing construction, so we’re wedged somewhat awkwardly around a wooden — pagoda-y thing. Sorry, my grasp of architectural jargon is sorely lacking.

10:24:46 PM
“Was that movement?” Okay, so he’s holed up inside, I guess. (And no, it wasn’t, although since we’re just off the main stretch of parliamentland, we’re starting to attract curious tourists.)

10:26:34 PM
Scaffolding! That’s what it’s called.

Okay, according to what appears to be his aide, the minister will be out momentarily, but will not be taking questions. “He’s making a statement, and that’s it — okay, guys?”

NOTE: It actually wasn’t his aide – it was Mike Storeshaw, who, in peacetime, is director of communications for Jim Flaherty, but is currently serving the party as a soldier in the War Room. 

10:27:47 PM
And here he is — the man of the hour himself, ignoring the entreaties of the camera crew to move out from the depths of the scaffolding and giving his speech about as close to the exit as he possibly can. It sounds like he’s memorized his script — he’s delivering it at a breakneck, almost jaunty pace. No, he’s not saying anything new – comments were inappropriate, he regrets unreservedly, and — wow, that’s it. He just scuttled back inside, ignoring the barrage of questions (including one from Colleague Wells).

UPDATE: Wells’ question, for the record: “What does taking responsibility entail?” was no less piercing for the fact that it was aimed in the direction of the minister’s rapidly retreating back, or what of it could be seen dimly through the gently swinging door.

10:30:08 PM
Really, that was it? That was a minute long. Wells is buttonholing the luckless aide, but it’s all off the record, so I’m not going to share a word.

Well, at least I didn’t miss a resignation, right?

10:32:27 PM
You know, I think the whole purpose of this newser was to give the networks footage other than that airport clip, where he refuses to answer, and eventually someone – possibly Ritz – tells the reporter to “Get out of my face.” This twenty seconds of public penance was awkward, short and pointless – but still slightly better than that, as far as the optics.

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