Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How Low Can He Go?

I'm not talking about doing the Limbo here, especially not with this man. No, I'm talking about his reaction (versus response) to Ignatieff's questions in QP yesterday and further comments today.

When Harper makes inane references about the Liberals being soft on crime, he looks and sounds ridiculous. When he suggests that the opposition care more about the Taliban than our troops, he looks and sounds disgusting.

But yesterday, he stooped to a place that even I wouldn't have believed possible. He implied that some sort of Liberal conspiracy was placing cancer and heart patients at risk.

“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.”

As I watched QP, I must confess that I was gobsmacked. This is the most divisive, partisan, despicable man that I have ever witnessed, or perhaps I should say, a man who is reportedly a leader in this country. He is nothing of the sort and the more time goes on, the more this becomes apparent.

He appears to exist only to vilify anything Liberal. His intent is to bring the conservative movement we've seen south of the border, here to Canada. That's it, that's all. I think I have to go back and look at Flanagan's book more closely.

He claimed that he had independent advice on this issue.

Bob Strickert, one of the “independent” experts Mr. Harper said the government consulted before concluding it would be safe to restart the Chalk River reactor, is vice-president of the Tory association in the Ontario riding of Durham.

Ya, that would qualify as independent.

This government is a joke and Canadians are slowly getting the punchline.

I will not comment directly on the the nuclear issue. Obviously, I am not qualified to offer an opinion.

It is a very important issue and one that I have views on but I'll say only this. To vilify the civil servant appointed to oversee the industry, who de facto is legislated to err on the side of caution, is unbelievable.

Harper is writing his legacy. He will be remembered with a moniker such that Lyin' Brian wears. What might it be?

Feel free to list your suggestions.


ottlib said...

I have said it before, but what the heck, I will say it again.

Stephen Harper hates Liberals and liberals. For him it is not just an honest disagreement between people of good conscience. For him it is actually hatred.

How the country managed to get saddled with him as the leader of its government still leaves me scratching my head.

At any rate, I find Mr. Harper's hatred really comes to the surface when he is on the defensive or he is trying to get out from under some kind of political problem. So his vitriolic reaction yesterday speaks volumes. It is the kinds of situations like this one that erodes confidence in government much more than stuff like Bali or even the war in Afghanistan. He knows it too, hence his reaction.

Of course, we had all better hope that his political interference in nuclear safety does not come back to bite our collective butts. Going forward with starting up that reactor without all of the safety systems in place increases the potential for a situation like 3 Mile Island or God help us Chernobyl.

Of course, the chances are still pretty small, but working safety systems would make the chances next to nil.

Red Canuck said...

KNB - This was about as low as we've seen him sink. I too was shocked that he would somehow try to pin this on the Liberals and still keep a stright face. Not only that, but implying that the Liberals were putting Canadian lives in danger was downright pathological.

I understand the dire need for nuclear medicine imaging, but Harper's retort that by restarting the reactor there "won't be any accidents" rings of textbook Famous Last Words.

The man is a fool and a nothing more than a shameless, opportunistic partisan hack.

burlivespipe said...

It's in these stressful moments where Harper's pathological side emerges. Pathological and pathetic. Does he not know that the responsibility of the Nuclear Safety commission is 'safety'? And that when the corporation running Chalk River demonstrated either incompetence or purposeful neglect on the requirements to have a back-up power pump in place, that they were in the wrong? This echoes his handling of Elections Canada and the hijabs, Afghanistan and the transfer of prisoners, and any other moment where Harper's own gov't was shown to be deficit or incompetent. Obviously, the pimply-faced Steve was given the coldest shoulder and probably a face full of sand too by the easiest liberal girl in his high school...

Scotian said...

As I said on this at Garth Turner's blog post on the nuclear issue Harper managed to hit a new low exceeding his slime charge of Martin supporting child porn in 2004. The degree of paranoia and willingness to believe in vast conspiracies out to get him and his party this demonstrates is extreme, so extreme that it was clearly noted by various journalists; Don Newman certainly was taken aback going by how he addressed this on his Tuesday show. This is yet another example of why I say this man is a threat to our democratic structure itself and why he cannot under any circumstances be given majority power, and anyone that claims to be progressive that does not understand that must be the most important goal of the next election is unworthy of the name in my view.

Well, I only have a couple of hours today to catch up online with various posts so I'll keep this short, but I tell you once I get back home to stay tomorrow by the end of the weekend I intend on doing a blog post on this accusation and what it shows about Harper as well as how well it fits into his pattern of not just blaming the Liberals for anything that goes wrong on his watch but also how he either invents these conspiracies for political convenience or even worse, actually believes these paranoid delusions which certainly makes him unfit for power regardless of any other considerations regarding ideology.

Good post KNB, and one I fully agree with, as I said I left a few posts on this at Turner's yesterday if you want to see them, mostly in the nuclear thread but one near the end of the preceding thread regarding the then upcoming Mulroney hearing.

Scotian said...

BTW, I just left a detailed comment on the specifices of this issue as post number 19 at Garth Turner's blog in the MacKinnon thread. You might find it of interest, which is why I mention it now, indeed, now that I think about it I am going to copy and paste it here for you before I head out in a few minutes. Here it is and I hope you don't mind.

I’d say this editorial cartoon is entirely fitting/appropriate given that as it turns out the “experts” Harper used to justify his claims of nuclear safety at Chalk River over that of the regulator whom he accused of acting as a Liberal partisan hack out to make his government look bad with this shutdown regardless of how it affected Canadian lives/health turned out to be someone who was once an executive at the company that was non-compliant (AECL) and the other expert just happens to be a riding executive of one of his cabinet ministers. Sure, no appearance let alone actual conflicts of interest there nor any possible concerns about using the opinion of someone with far more obvious clear and stronger partisan political connections (riding exec) than the chair of the regulator to override that regulator plus someone that has a financial interest in the well being of AECL.

The more this is examined the more it becomes clear that Harper is acting purely in political damage control mode placing that above nuclear safety and willing to risk nuclear reactor failure rather than take the heat his government was talking regarding the isotope shortage the shutdown had caused. While yes the odds are good that nothing will happen during that 120 days, there is a major difference between saying the risk is low and that there is no risk, which was what Harper claimed in the House and that his “experts” told him. I have a real hard time believing that nuclear engineers (indeed any engineers for that matter) would ever state there is no risk where nuclear reactors are concerned, especially when they are not fully up to code/spec as required by nuclear safety regulations. Harper is clearly either being badly advised or is lying about what they told him for him to make this statement of no danger at all and that there is no risk of a nuclear accident at this reactor despite/given the clear evidence that disproves that (low risk is not no risk I remind CPC/Harper defenders) claim.

At first my outrage was at Harper for making a new low in the smear politics he was willing to play as well his inability to accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong under his government’s watch, it is always the Liberals fault or outside forces’ fault, it is never because the Harper CPC is as fault. However, the more I look into the details surrounding this issue the more it looks like Harper is setting a dangerous precedent of overriding the regulator purely for political damage control and not based on sound science nor sound safety engineering practices. That is a very serious matter/issue/concern, and the fact that he decried a Liberal partisan hack making this decision (the regulator the Libs appointed and Harper reconfirmed once he came to power, funny how Harper forgets to mention that) while using a former executive of the non-compliant company (who would have a financial interest based on retirement holdings he no doubt has, or his pension from the company) and a riding executive for one of his ministers, the definition of partisan hack, even if he is qualified in the field overall shows who is truly relying on a partisan hack to back his argument/claim. Not to mention his willingness to smear/lie and project his own actual sins upon his opponents, something sadly typical of the modern/new Conservatives.

How is it that the only experts this government could come up with have clear conflicts of interests in this matter, one financial the other political? Is Canada so short on nuclear safety engineers that these are the only ones they could turn up? If one takes what Minister Lunn said the other day in QP at face value, what are the odds that his deputy minister with no political interference/direction could somehow manage to find these two and recommend them as the best available from the overall pool of experts in this country? This is clearly a case of the PM using a political ally plus someone with a clear conflict of interest (financial and prior connection to noncompliant company) so as to make this claim of safety to reopen the plant, and given how he shamefully lied/smeared the regulatory chair and the Liberals for defending the regulator doing exactly what her job required of her when he called the regulatory chairperson a the Libs partisan hack this is particularly odious, even by the standards of hypocrisy this government has shown itself to practice.

There can be no defence for all of this, especially when one considers just how important this issue is. The fact that the government was able to railroad the other parties into supporting them on this by using the “expert testimony” of these “unbiased” witnesses, especially on the same day they launched their smear (and then only after the legislation comes out does anyone find out that the expert relied upon that did not have the questionable links to AECL turned out to be that riding exec for a CPC minister) makes it clear to anyone not blinded by partisan blinders that this government clearly placed its own partisan political concerns above the safety of Canadians both immediately with Chalk River itself (as well as misleading Canadians about the risk threat, as I keep saying low/little risk is not the same as no risk which is what Harper bluntly stated) but also in setting this precedent overriding the nuclear safety regulator, especially when it turns out it was done purely to save political face for the government as the primary consideration.

This is the so called leadership Harper/CPC defenders have been trumpeting about the past couple of days. Leadership like this will be the death of Canada as a nation, and the sooner this kind of leadership is shown the door the better for all Canadians, even that of many of the CPC supporters that do not realize yet just how much they will end up being shafted to suit the needs of the elites that Straussians like Harper feel are the only ones that deserve any consideration in terms of government policy.

Again, like yesterday this will be my only post for today on this, not from lack of interest but from offline matters to deal with. Turns out I have to spend a second day back out with my parents instead of just today. Thankfully I had to come back home to pick up a few things since when I left yesterday I thought I was coming home this afternoon. Well, until I return I hope I have provided enough material in here for others to consider/discuss. This is a very serious issue and the more that comes to life regarding the actions of the Harper government on this the more serious it looks as a very real non-partisan concern for all Canadians regarding nuclear safety and this government’s willingness to roll the dice rather than take the political heat while AECL finally brings its reactor up to safety code which they had been in breech of for over a year by the regulator whose job and responsibility is first and foremost the safe operation of nuclear reactors in this country on behalf of all Canadian citizens and not the political exposure of a sitting government nor that of a business, especially one that has a bad record of failing to stay within the required safety requirements as required by their operating permit.

This is very serious stuff folks, please try to treat it as such instead of just another partisan football, when we stop taking nuclear safety issues as a non-partisan concern then IMHO we have gone way too far down the road of partisanship above civic duty/responsibility. I will say this, if this situation had happened this way under a Liberal government and they had done as this CPC government did I would be just as angered, offended, and disgusted by it, anyone that places partisanship of nuclear safety is in my books an ass. Nuclear issues are too serious to treat any other way, period.

By Scotian on 12.13.07 3:14 pm

Steve V said...

"he stooped to a place that even I wouldn't have believed possible"

How many times have you said that to yourself in the last two years?

knb said...

ottlib: For him it is not just an honest disagreement between people of good conscience. For him it is actually hatred.

I would agree and that is the part I find so bizarre. Perhaps not to feel it, as I confess to having similar feelings toward what is casually termed neo-conservatism, but to express it, often, in the HoC and elsewhere, borders on something else me thinks.

knb said...

RC:Harper's retort that by restarting the reactor there "won't be any accidents" rings of textbook Famous Last Words.

Frightening isn't it?

The man is a fool and a nothing more than a shameless, opportunistic partisan hack.

While I agree with you, I would remove the words, nothing more. I think he is more than that. I think he's dangerous.

knb said...

Burl, I was a girl at his High School, but not the easiest by a long shot, lol.

He was a non-descript fellow who made few impressions on anyone. My sister was in his year, (she's not easy either btw), and recalls him as a "wallflower" sort. I suppose this is if they could see me now moment.

As to the haste and lack of thought with which Harper took the decision to act on this issue, I would agree with your examples. For such a disciplined man, his knee jerk reactions are somewhat startling.

But I think if you dig a little deeper, there is a method to his madness. As RC said, his an opportunist. There is an opportunity here to begin the long process of privitizing this industry.

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you must, but I do not see Harper taking any action unless it meets his end desire.

knb said...

Scotian, of course I do not mind you pasting your comment here.

You bring up many issues, really interesting and relevant issues.

Not the least of which is this: the regulator the Libs appointed and Harper reconfirmed once he came to power, funny how Harper forgets to mention that.

I'm not sure how many of us have made that connection. Well done!

You offer many other items worthy of discussion and I will be back to further explore them as soon as I can.

I am thrilled to hear, that you intend to write about this. You have a unique and very clear voice on this man. One that I think deserves to be heard and disseminated.

Thank you for informing this discussion.

Scotian said...


I asked in this case whether you minded because unlike my usual contributions this was a cut and past of a comment I made at another blog. I feel that especially since I am a long winded writer to begin with I owe each blog I comment at a uniquely generated to that blog response. I almost never cut and paste comments and when I do I make a formal note of the fact that I am doing so. I did not expect to have both the time and opportunity to use my father's computer (he uses it quite extensively especially since he broke his leg, what a shock eh) which is why I did not expect to be able to comment again until I got back home tomorrow afternoon.

As to the post I am thinking about, I was originally planning one on the Mulroney testimony and the entire Schreiber affair, which I still likely will end up doing once I get a chance to catch up watching the various hearings (I have had the bad luck to only be able to watch one of them live, the rest I have to watch taped, which I have done for all the hearings for future reference) especially Mulroney's from today. The clips and segments I have already seen/heard have astounded me and reminded me just how much this man relies on his ability to project and manipulate emotional environments to his advantage regardless of the underlying facts, but I think he didn't manage to do that much to restore his credibility given the way he danced around the money question and the meaning of is is manner of explaining the lawsuit affidavit. We shall see how it plays out; especially given it was the last hearing until the end of January.

However, this smear by Harper to cover his political tail over the isotope shortage and the problems with AECL's management of this plant which is the sole source in the country for the isotopes which the Harper government apparently were unaware of or worse intentionally allowed to slide (I'm more thinking the former than the latter myself in this case although I could be convinced otherwise shown sufficient basis to be so, it is early days yet) and then overruled the regulator in an unprecedented act is really serious IMHO. As you can tell from the comment I wrote for Garth Turner's blog the more I look at this the more it looks like not only was the smear false and unwarranted by the evidence, it looks like this entire fiasco was to provide cover for a PM taking more heat than he could handle and placed his partisan interests above national nuclear safety interests, even taking into account the real isotope shortage that was causing real difficulties for many of our fellow citizens.

Also, watching Harper proclaim something he should know cannot ever be stated as a certainty, namely that no nuclear accident can happen there within this 120 days to justify why he feels he can override the regulator is something I find exceptionally disturbing. I mean this is a man who has shown if anything a certain contempt for science, just look at how he has handled the global warming issue throughout the last 15 years. So for him to speak in such certainties regarding something he clearly has no background in to “refute”/deflect any concerns/questions others may have is an act of saying anything no matter how false to score political points and serve his political interests regardless of factual accuracy and the national (as opposed to his and his party's) interest.

The precedent being set here of having Parliament overrule the nuclear regulator Parliament charged to act on its behalf to avoid allowing favour or prejudice (political or economic considerations are included in that) to interfere with safety management is not a small one. That one can at least make an argument in this case because of the medical shortage with the isotopes does not change the fact that done once it becomes significantly easier to do again, and how knows how good/bad the reasoning may be then? After taking these various serious non partisan considerations regarding the nuclear issue and then watching the PM turn it into a partisan whack job to deflect from any blame/responsibility for this situation from being attached to him and his government I find myself seeing this as something that must be examined as best as I and as many others that are willing to do so can do. For me that is primarily regarding the political impacts, but I do have enough basic understanding of nuclear science and engineering to understand the importance of core aspects of that side too, at least enough to recognize just how irresponsible if not outright dangerous Harper's safety guarantee truly is.

So, hopefully once I am situated comfortably back home tomorrow and have a chance to look through relevant information to synthesize data on this with I can have something that takes what I've said in the various comments I have made to date in total into a well structured post at Saundrie. It is possible I may go with the Mulroney one first, but that is as much because I am far more familiar with specifics in that one off the top of my head than with Chalk River, which I am still gathering information on. As you know, unlike some I do not talk/write for the sake of hearing myself, I may be wordy/long-winded but I at least tend to talk about things I have a clear understanding/knowledge about unlike some others you and I can think of. That is one of the reasons I don't do light stuff at Saundrie, I made a pledge when I set it up about the level of quality of the work in memory of two deceased relatives of mine and I would rather significant time lapses between the comments than I break that promise.

Well, this has gone on longer than I thought, so I will wrap it up for now and see you here probably tomorrow some time. Until then take care and be well.

knb said...

Hi Scotian.

I have not forgotten this issue, but at the moment I'm so damned angry about what Baird is doing in Bali, that I'm not able to focus clearly enough on this subject and for me it does take focus.

However, given this, this and this, I imagine at some point over the weekend I'll get back to it.

We're expecting to be a bit snowed-in this weekend. Not like you get in your neck of the woods of course, but still, stay in the house kind of weather. For me, that includes blogging.

As for Mulroney, I'm not sure I'll go there just yet. I think I'm going to let that story grow.

It's odd. Yesterday evoked so much emotion. Embarrassment, shame, incredulity, sympathy, anger, disbelief and the list goes on.

It's tough to write a post with all of that going on inside, so I'll wait until I can sift through that I think.