Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I'm certain I've seen this movie before.
There's a midget-sized butthead wagging the dog, leading the chorus of partisan zealots trying to raise the ire of ignorant Canadians.
Death in the hospitals! Critical exams on hold! An isotope shortage that puts Canada's health care system in jeopardy!
On its first viewing, the overly dramatic hyperbole sent off alarm bells with me and a number of people I knew. But politicians being what they are, they all fell in line in the end, allowing min-minister Lunn and so-called leader Stephen 'running scared' Harper to turn the shutdown of Chalk River into a political charade - giving them an opportunity to soften public sentiment on the very public Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd crown corp.
Jump ahead say about 14 months. Chalk River is in the midst of a crisis - shut down due to leakage issues (and leakage and nuclear reactors are not things you want to hear in the same sentence)... It means a critical shortage of medical isotopes, but surprisingly, the new edition of Harper's revolving doorstops is all mellow with it. Within weeks, the government reveals a plan that will 'help' Canada take advantage of this wonderful science while also loosening the public grip on the local industry. In other words, putting the AECL's nuclear reactor business on the auction block, while inviting private tenders to manage Chalk River.
Hmmm, now this also gives me a flashback to another incredible story. There once was this minister, a rising star who dared to develop a personality (or faux personality) of his own. He'd show up with a beautiful dame on one arm, fancy suits, and a box of Joes Louis for all the boys. And he left his important department documents, many marked SECRET near the pillow of his girlfriend. And forgot about them. And didn't retrieve them for a long time.
Jump forward one year, almost to the day. Curious coincidence this, but apparently the current minister in charge of natural resources, including the above mentioned nuclear department, a Lisa Raitt, has appeared to left some of her documents marked SECRET on a desk at a TV station. And failed to retrieve them. Or return calls when it was revealed what had happened. The folder reveals alot about the government's investing into the industry and the aged Chalk River plant -- apparently it's quite a sinkhole, kind of like your typical CON cabinet job.
But wait, the flashbacks keep coming. If we skip back to the announced plan to sell-off Canada's nuclear industry, which would require some form of deregulation and external pressure to change the regulatory body (which Harper's team has already squeezed with its firing of Linda Keen), you suddenly find yourself at the desk of another tiny knucklehead, a Mr. Jimmy Flaherty. Seems he held a job long ago where he guaranteed a surplus budget. It was as sure as the day is long, he inferred. The tough times would not stop them, but it would require that the province of the day divest itself of certain public properties to help create a better business culture, offer better services, and ease up on the provincial coffers. That version of a financial minister proceeded, with the thumbs up from his leader, to make severe cutbacks to the water safety division. And within a year, seven people were dead in Walkerton.
A provincial commission found that the decisions of the Harris PC government was responsible for weakening of the inspection services, as well as reducing inforcement procedures.
Ahah! you say -- there's a storyline being floated around on just the same premise -- a recession gives a conservative government leash to start selling publicly-held industries and crown corporations. Some of them seemingly mundane. But it also finds a government lapdog that is eager to appease its bosses (who unlike in the movie 'democracy', are really the dudes in sharp suits and dark shades who write big, big cheques)... Asking say a potted fern of a minister to loosen environmental assessment regulations, just so that they can get those jobs out there tout sweet! That's your cue to cover your eyes.
There doesn't have to be a sequel to this disaster - if Canadians wake up and turf out this gang of incompetent nincompoops. The sooner the better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bernier had the highest percentage victory of any tory in Quebec last time around.

Seems like the tories have settled on a new strategy for raising the profile of their most mundane ministers.

I wonder what else will leak?