Sunday, December 16, 2007

As Low as is Necessary

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about Harper's disgusting remarks directed to the Liberals, specifically:

“The continuing actions of the Liberal-appointed Nuclear Safety Commission will jeopardize the health and safety of lives of tens of thousands of Canadians,” Mr. Harper said.“Since when does the Liberal party have a right from the grave, through one of its previous appointees, to block the production of necessary medical products in this country? This is not in the public interest ... The longer this goes on the greater will be the public health damage and the Liberal party is standing in the way of fixing this.”

I entitled the post, How Low can He Go? and I think perhaps we now have some of the answer to that question from Tony Clement.

Let's go back a bit. It began with Harper in QP, then an unusual Committee of the Whole HoC met last Tuesday and it was quite clear that the Con's had been instructed to keep that strategy going. It was painful for me to watch to be honest.

Linda Keen is the Pres. and CEO of CNSC. By all accounts she has a stellar record as a public servant. She did not shut down the NRU. The AECL volunteered to do so when it was pointed out that they were in violation of their license. So with that little bit of background, how was she treated by the Con's during this meeting? In the most partisan manner possible.

Here's an example from Hansard. It's a bit lengthy, so feel free to scroll through it if you wish.

Mr. Ted Menzies (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC): Mr. Chair, my colleague is absolutely correct. This is a safety issue and most importantly a safety issue, but it is a needs issue for those people who need this product.
I would like to lead my questioning toward Ms. Keen.
In your opening comments you described yourself as an expert in nuclear safety. As I have said, we are talking about safety. You also stated in your opening comments that yours is a non-partisan position. I would like to follow up a little bit on that.
Your appointment to the CNSC was in the year 2000, I understand, is that correct?
Ms. Linda J. Keen: That is correct.
Mr. Ted Menzies: And you were a career public servant before that time? Is that correct?

Ms. Linda J. Keen: I did work both in industry, and with the federal and provincial governments, yes.
Mr. Ted Menzies: Until your appointment at CNSC my understanding is that you were assistant deputy minister at the Department of Natural Resources when the now opposition House leader was the minister of natural resources. Is that correct?

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Assistant Deputy Chair: Order, order. The hon. member asked a question. Order, please. Ms. Keen has the floor.
Ms. Linda J. Keen: Yes, I would like to answer this question by saying that I am an Albertan. I was born in Alberta. I never belonged to any political party in my life.
I joined the public service in fact when there was another government in power. I am saying that I am non-partisan. I serve with good behaviour. I have met every requirement of the Ethics Commissioner and I do my work on a non-partisan basis and I have no political affiliation.
Mr. Ted Menzies: The question I asked was, were you the deputy minister at the Department of Natural Resources when the minister of natural resources, the now opposition House leader, was the minister.
Ms. Linda J. Keen: Yes and I was appointed by the Public Service Commission.
Mr. Ted Menzies: Thank you. The opposition House leader in fact recommended your appointment. Is that my understanding?
Ms. Linda J. Keen: I have no idea. I was interviewed by PMO. What they did was they went out and searched for people. I applied, I was interviewed, and I was given the appointment. I have no idea about the recommendation. I applied for the job.
Mr. Ted Menzies: Before you worked at natural resources were you also at the Department of Agriculture when the opposition House leader was minister of agriculture?
Ms. Linda J. Keen: I will have to recall because--
Mr. Michael Ignatieff (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr. Chair, on a point of order. This line of questioning is essentially insinuating that political considerations are affecting the professional judgment of a public servant.
We are here, Mr. Chair, to adjudicate a dispute that AECL quite properly said was a difference of professional opinion.
This commissioner is entitled to the respect of the House and she is not receiving it.
The Assistant Deputy Chair: I do not think that falls under the realm of a point of order.
We will go back to the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

This is just one example of the way she was treated. She was accused of not caring about people and the medical implications, she was accused of being more interested in red tape and so on. It was awful. Politicians may sign up for this kind of abuse, but how on earth are we to attract dedicated, talented public servants if they are to be subjected to this nonsense?

So now, we come to today and Tony Clement on QP.

Tony Clement made no apology for the partisan gamesmanship leading up to an emergency legislation-forced restart at the reactor in Chalk River, Ont., last week.
"Some times you gotta fire a couple shots across the bow to make sure the opposition knows that you're serious about the issue," he said.

Yep, that's right. According to the Con's it's perfectly okay to trash someones reputation as long as it serves your political needs. (Do check out the vid to the right of the article. Hubris and arrogance on display.)

Clement said the Conservatives singled out Keen's actions because they thought the Liberals were going to turn the shortage into a partisan issue and delay the reactor's restart.

Translation: they saw this as a something that could damage the Con's. Again, trying to best their opponents politically, they threw an innocent under the proverbial bus.

I'm not sure how it gets more disgusting than this, but as Steve V. pointed out on the earlier post, I've said that before.

This government is pathologically consumed with gaining a majority, imo. Interestingly, they seem to veering away from their "safe" course. This incident, Bali, Gun Control issues, Afghanistan, the lack of clemency for Death Penalty prisoners outside the country are but a few examples of how they seem to have switched strategy.

With all of their polling, chuckle, they seem not to be making any headway with their middle of the road approach. So, perhaps they will be more honest about who they are. It certainly seems that way and I say, keep it up. The hidden agenda thing is tough to fight credibly. It's too easily parodied and dismissed. I say, bring it on, show us how you are different from the Lib's and go to the court of public opinion. I suspect that the accusation by the NDP that the Con's are just like the Lib's got under Harper's skin and he wanted to put a stop to that.

Fair enough. Show us who you are and I'm certain that Canadians will show you who they are.

How low will they go? As low as necessary and innocents be damned.


RuralSandi said...

I won't bore you with the horrors my parents (especially my mother) went through when Clements was health minister in Ontario during the Harris years.

Tony Clement - one of the authors of Harris' No Nonsense Resolution.

Unfortunately, Clements won in his "new" riding - by something like 27 votes.

What exactly has Clements accomplished while Health Minister? Website for Canada Food Rules, website of recalled children's toys, etc. Wow - he says set it up and other people get the info and design, etc.

What did he do during the AIDS Conference in Toronto, showed up for a little while and then went to play golf.

Do you feel safe with Clements as health minister? I don't.

ottlib said...

It is the Chalk River fiascos that erode the confidence in government more than such things as bad performances at international conferences and bad bills. When a government demonstrates that it cannot keep the flow of life saving nuclear isotopes flowing people really begin to question the competence of the government.

As is the well established MO of this government, when ever they find themselves in this kind of situation they attempt to shift blame. And they have further demonstrated that they have no compunction in labeling a public servant as a Liberal minion if they believe it will get them off the hook.

It is despicable but it is also one of the reasons why this government is still wallowing at around the same levels of support, or lower, it achieved last year, despite a strong perception that the opposition is weak.

knb said...

Sandi, no obviously I do not feel safe, especially after I read today's news.

The fact that Clement played golf while the AIDS conference was going on has been disputed by many a Con, but it was my partner who was playing behind him, so I know it to be true.

That attitude, the one that the Con's display about every issue of importance to the majority of Canadians, is under reported in my view.

I'm sorry to learn that your parents went through a bad time and as we all know, that affects the whole family. I hope it worked out in the end.

knb said...

Ottlib: It is the Chalk River fiascos that erode the confidence in government more than such things as bad performances at international conferences and bad bills

I agree with you, in this case however, there has been a pile on which starts people the hmmm, thing.

That said, timing is everything and at this time of year few are paying attention.

The question is, can these issues remain relevant come the new year?

John West said...

No Studio? Get a job and rent one.

Read two books a week? There aren't that many worth reading.

Read less and think more. Harper is the best PM we've had in memory. I feel safer with him at the helm.

You and your readers would have more guts and happiness if you all had productive jobs. Not a non-profit position in a do-good scheme, but a job with a bottom line. Being an artist is okay, but only if have a studio and money.

Being broke angry and scared it just dumb. Complaining about government is like complaining about the weather. Also dumb.

Vote on election day and then try to have a live regardless of who wins. Be a good sport eh?

knb said...

john, if you have a comment about my thoughts fair enough, but your condescending remarks aimed at my life style are out of line.

It's quite telling when someone makes the kind of assinine assumptions that you have. They're inaccurate, sanctimonious and fabricated out of whole cloth. But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, you've been taught by one of the best, your leader.

Harper is the best PM we've had in memory. I feel safer with him at the helm.

I'm sure you do. That's precisely what Harper wants you to feel...Daddy will keep you safe.