Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger apologizes for 'oh, that's it?' comment on opioid deaths
'This issue is in my backyard,' Chagger told fellow MPs in the House
Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger has apologized for saying, "Oh, that's it?" when a fellow MP said there's been 36 deaths from fentanyl and opioids in Barrie.
Chagger made the comment Monday evening while MPs were in the House of Commons discussing the opioid crisis.
Conservative MP Alexander Nuttall explained the crisis in his Ontario riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. He said they've seen 36 deaths from opioids and two murders.
Responding to those comments, Liberal MP Ken Hardie for the B.C. riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells, repeated the statistic, then said, "I would submit that [Nuttall's riding] has had 38 murders."
As Hardie spoke, Chagger can be heard saying on an official audio recording, "Oh, that's it?" She then says something else that is inaudible.
"Minister Chagger apologizes if her comments caused any offence. With hindsight, she wishes she had expanded on her thoughts at that time during the debate," Chagger's press secretary Daniele Medlej said in a statement sent to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer slammed Chagger's comments, calling them "heartless" and "cruel."
"Is openly mocking 38 deaths how Liberal cabinet ministers talk behind closed doors," he tweeted.
'It is in every person's backyard'
The statement from Medlej said Chagger is pleased to see all parties in Ottawa working together on the issue. During Monday's debate, Chagger noted two previous requests for an emergency debate had been rejected.
"That triggered me and others on the government benches to encourage the government to request a take-note debate so that we could share the stories of very real people in our communities who are affected by this crisis," Chagger said in the House.
"I personally have an individual who is impacted in my life. This issue is in my backyard. This issue is not only in my backyard, it is in every person's backyard."
Chagger noted in 2017, 85 people died in Waterloo region from overdoses.
The statement from Medlej said Chagger "assumed there was a greater number in similar communities" and she "agrees that one life lost is one too many."