Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fusion or Fission?

The Standing Committee on Natural Resources held it's meeting this morning and what a meeting it was.

It began with Lunn making a statement that had many words, but said nothing more than I did my job really well.

He made the obligatory statements, that this is all the Liberals fault and of course it's the former President of the CSNC fault too.

As expected, Lunn answers no questions he just drones on and on in a robotic monotone, repeating at least 100 times that he did his job well and he would have been remiss to have not fired Keen. Oh and did you know that a special Parliamentary session was held in December to vote on whether or not to order the reactor to restart? Geez, he must have said that 100 times as well, always pointing out that Parliament voted in favour insinuating that he's off the hook basically.

The Q&A went something like this. He ignored the Lib questions, he avoided the Bloc questions, he occasionally gave the NDP an answer, (who btw managed to work accusations against the Lib's into her questions and oddly kept referring to the Minister as Gary?) and then he sat back as the members of his own party blew him kisses across the room. (An aside. What is with Cheryl Gallant? She is one odd duck.)

There are so many holes in his explanation of all the events surrounding this controversy, it is difficult to know where to start.

Let's start with yesterday's meeting shall we. It was the usual nonsense of the Lib's putting forward a motion and the Con's doing their best to change it. The Lib's wanted to hear Lunn first, but the Con's said that Keen should be heard first. Clearly the Con proposal made no sense as Keen was there to defend herself in view of Lunn's previous and current accusations. Why would you put her on first, before hearing Lunn's reasoning?

In the end the Lib motion was passed which may or may not have resulted in Linda Keen being fired at 10:00pm last night and subsequently not coming to committee today. This is just my speculation, but it seems to me that having lost the battle to have Lunn rebut any comments made by Keen, the order to fire her was given. Lunn admitted that he made the decision to fire her yesterday.

Fast forward to today and toward the end of the meeting Omar Alghabra has heard that the chair Leon Benoit had new information on this afternoon's meeting with Linda Keen. Alghabra wants to know this info before letting the Minister go. Benoit balks, refuses, then caves at which point we learn that Keen e-mailed the clerk at 0900 to say she would be there, then a 2nd e-mail arrived at 1045 saying she would not appear. That one was sent by the CNSC apparently with her knowledge.

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps for legal reasons related to her being fired, she couldn't appear. Convenient? I'll say.

Many things came out of this meeting that I find really disturbing.

Since when in Canada does the government insert itself into a semi-judicial regulatory body, then threaten it's President and finally fires her close to midnight, hours before she is supposed to testify before a committee?

Throughout the testimony, Lunn continually repeated that had he and government not taken action to hold a special session, people would have died. Tests were being delayed and that was not good, but he said that within days critical medical procedures would have been cancelled resulting in deaths. That's the first I've heard of that. I do not recall MDS-Nordion speaking to that issue. I do recall they were worried about losing money and I do recall a commenter on another thread informing me that MDS-Nordion has an agreement with a supplier in Belgium for just such an emergency. This same commenter also reminded me that Harper and co. had floated the idea of privatizing the AECL last summer. And while this whole issue of shut-down originated with AECL, absolutely no blame was cast their way by Lunn. That makes absolutely no sense, so obviously we are only getting part of the story.

David McGuinty brought up the fact that if you do your job as an independent regulator, you get fired or harassed. He reminded everyone of Harper's famous comment at the last election. I'm paraphrasing here: For those who are worried about the Conservatives pushing through their agenda, you needn't be. We have Liberal appointed civil servants, Senate, regulators and judiciary, so we won't be able to push through a Conservative agenda.

McGuinty further reminded us of the actual individuals who have been fired or harassed, since this government took over. In one case a conservative appointee quit out of frustration.

Jean-Pierre Kinsley - Chief Electoral Officer
Joanne Gelina - Environment Commissioner
William Corbett - Commissioner of Elections
Mark Mayrand - Chief Electoral Officer
Linda Keen - Pres. NCSC
John Reid - Information Commissioner

I'll end on this. Harper and Lunn are covering up their bungling and whatever other plans that have not yet come to light. Their defense and justification as I mentioned earlier seems to revolve around the fact that everyone voted to restart the reactor the special session. In their usual delusional fashion, they took that to mean that the opposition agreed with them. They did not. The opposition parties were given a choice of 2 evils. They had not lost confidence in Linda Keen, but they had to choose which risk was higher. The health risk or the risk of a possible seismic event that could present danger. They voted for the lesser of the two evils.

This is not going to go away anytime soon and Harper will wear this. The next meeting has been put off until parliament returns, Jan. 29 to be precise, at which point the Liberals have called Sheila Fraser, the head of AECL and Linda Keen.

Stay tuned.

Update: Scotian reminded me of an additional action taken by this government. The firing of the Wheat Board president.

19 comments:

RuralSandi said...

According to Robert Fife (he was on Mike Duffy Live tonight) - they hired an image consultant to prepare Lunn for this meeting. An "image consultant" to help him deal with questions, statements, IMAGE, etc. And, Lunn flew in for the meeting and flew out right away afterwards.

What do you suppose this "image consultant" cost the taxpayers?

Jeff said...

Just a quick question.

If you're not a Liberal staffer watching this on ParlTV OR at the committee hearing, what do you do for a living?

Watching House of Commons Committee hearings and it's not related to your job...get out more.

knb said...

Too much sandi by the looks of him. I've never seen anyone drink so much water during an opening statement. He was very nervous.

Interesting that he flew out of Ottawa right after. In committee it was said that he had committments @ 12:30 to attend to. I suppose a flight is a committment, but a bit disingenuous don't you think?

RuralSandi said...

I'm sure not a Liberal staffer and I'm home because of a disk problem in my back.

I sit at my computer part of the day because I have an ergonomic chair and it's comfortable. I'd love to be able to walk and go out for a while. With therapy and meds I hope this will be soon over with. Just in case "Jeff" thinks he's so damn smart with nasty little comments. I do hope Jeff wishes me a full and speedy recovery.

Hey, about flying out - I guess a taxpayer plane was waiting for Lunn.

knb said...

jeff, thanks for being concerned about my private life. I can assure you that it is full and rich.

I enjoy politics and I do not enjoy this government. In fact I think they are dangerous, so I watch what they do. You too must be interested given that you read me.

What bothers you more? The fact that I follow what is going on or the fact that you cannot dispute what I write?

Feel free to offer your opinion on my views, but I promise you I do not need your advice on how to live my life.

All I will say is that I'm not a staffer and had I been given the opportunity to be at the committee meeting, I would have been there. That was not the case.

knb said...

Yikes Sandi. I don't know if Jeff will but I surely will wish you well and speedy recovery. I had the same thing happen just before Christmas. I'm still sort of recovering, but I promise it gets better.

About the plane, indeed. A debriefer was no doubt on board waiting to craft their next move.

Get well soon. (FYI. In my case, the sooner I was off the med's the faster I healed.)

All the best.

Scotian said...

Jeff:

Or you might try reading her bio at the top of her website, but perhaps that would have taken you longer than asking this question would have. Either you are incredibly slow/stupid or deliberately trying to be insulting. Given the overall tone of your comment I would have to say the latter is clearly the more probable explanation.

KNB:

You forgot the head of the Canada Wheat Board when the government decided it wanted to move to get rid of it (ostensibly they were trying to free farmers, but the reality was always that they have opposed the CWB for ideological reasons all along and this was their first attempt to get rid of it) and the President was not willing to take orders from the government on it because it was an arms-length body and the government was acting inappropriately. That the government could only get what they wanted of him via changing the legislation by an act of Parliament, something the CPC knew it could not muster enough votes for, so they fired him instead. This is hardly anything new and McGuinty was quite correct about the pattern this illustrates, although I would have to say this is the most serious example to date given how serious one should take nuclear issues generally let alone safety issues as well as for the unprecedented actions by Lunn and Harper in her firing (while still keeping her on the board, which makes no sense, either she is incompetent and shouldn't be there or she isn’t for her actions, doing it this way is clearly trying to eat your cake and have it).

I will be writing at Saundrie on this later this evening or tomorrow (depending on how long some errands take my wife and I this evening), and I have already left comments about it at Garth Turner's blog on this topic and at Dave's at TGB which was where I first found out about the firing this morning. The bottom line is that the government is claiming powers of itself and Keen that neither actually has according to the controlling legislation, otherwise the government and Lunn specifically would have simply cited the relevant sections of the legislation/law in question which would have completely destroyed any argument by the Opposition *AND* Keen about Lunn's actions being improper. Trying to claim it was simply a "fact finding call" given everything else known is being asked to take the word of someone that clearly misinformed the House about the state of affairs or was severely negligent/incompetent in not knowing there were any problems despite the various reports that had been sent to him by AECL, CSNC, and even the AG last September pointing out the choke point if the reactor had to be shut down for any reason, including for non-compliance of safety requirements on the operating license. This is a foolish thing to do, especially when the other side has already claimed otherwise along with detailed citations of her legal authorities according to the controlling legislation as Keen did in her letter to Lunn.

This is truly something else, even by the standards of the Harper CPC in my view, and given what you know of my views about them that should tell you just how bad I find this situation to be. Back during the last election I argued that the corrupt, tired, and stale Liberals were still a safer and better choice to govern this country than the Harper CPC would be, even in a minority. That the CPC under Harper would be a direct threat to the safety and viability of this nation in the long term. That he would choose to disregard any law/legislation, precedent and tradition of this nation if it got in his way. I was called hysterical, a Liberal operative and a propagandist by many for saying this, and not only from the Right. Well, I mentioned that at Dave's earlier today and one of those people told everyone he was one of those that thought I was being hysterical and now realizes he was wrong and I was right (not that I would prefer this, as you know I would be a lot happier to be proven wrong in such predictions and not right even if it works to the advantage of a political party/leader I do not care for on political philosophical grounds).

This government is unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime in this country, and the actions taken in this issue including today's are unprecedented in my lifetime and possibly for many decades more beyond it. I would much prefer a government that governs moderately competently that skims/steals off the top but otherwise doesn't abuse the power of their position than what we have been seeing from the Harper government. I said so then and was mocked for it from both right and left sides, now I suspect many of those on the left wish they had taken me more seriously. I was never arguing for the Liberals because I am a Liberal, I was doing so because if Harper could not beat Martin given the environment then he and his wing of that party would have lost power and hopefully a more Canadian rooted political philosophy come to power within the party and this country would be spared the same nightmare kind of government our American neighbours have been provided by the GOP. Tehy are after all Harper's model upon whom his political philosophy and means of operating ads well as policies are clearly modeled as shown by both his words throughout his adult life until 2005 and his actions then and to this date despite his more moderate language.

Good post KNB, glad to see it.

Ryan said...

Ahaha. My favourite headline in this is off of KenOnCanPolitics.

"Linda Keen "Nuked" by Lunn"

Jesus, that was funny stuff.

http://kencan7.blogspot.com/

knb said...

I'm looking forward to your post Scotian and thank you.

I had no idea that the left had battered you as well. I wasn't in this world of politics and blogs then, so I cannot say how I would have reacted. My gut tells me I would have fought you a bit but in the end we would have seen Harper as the threat he is.

Thank you for your comment and you are quite right about the Wheat Board firing. I totally forgot about that. It's difficult to keep track frankly. I'll add that as an update.

I look forward to your post and will link it here.

Scotian said...

KNB:

It will have to be tomorrow I suspect, it is past midnight down here and I have already had a 16 hour day and I am starting to feel the beginnings of it, and if I try to start writing now I will either get very sloppy and miss things or get so angered again the adrenaline will keep me up way later than I want to be...*wry grin*.

As to the business of the left hitting me too back then, it was mainly NDPers, which to be fair I could understand to an extent, and as I was saying even back then I would not have said this were we talking about the PCPC instead of the Harper CPC. Because I was about to formally take out membership in the PCPC when the revelations about the secret negotiations between Harper and MacKay happened I paid a lot of attention to the monster birth in betrayal, deception, and by many people's lights treachery by the "no merger" candidate. After all MacKay had campaigned on this as well as signed that deal with Orchard on the Convention floor to win over Brison. Boy, what a mistake for the PCPC that was, if they had stayed separate they would have been the ones to reap the majority of the gains off the Liberals last time out, indeed they would have been more competitive because they unlike Harper did not have a history for ideological extremism. Corruption maybe thanks to the Mulroney days, but nothing like the fears regarding what Harper wants to do (as we are seeing yet again with the nuclear issue of course) if given the power going by what he said consistently from the late 80s until 2005.

Since that record was there if people were willing to look for it (mind you Harper had scrubbed a lot of his public writings, too bad for him I had been watching him since the late 80s and had read a lot of his work before it disappeared, I had copies on a hard drive, but alas no hard backup and lost it years back, it wasn't all that extensive but it would have been nice, thankfully others were more careful and have them online) I was a little irked with the NDPers that claimed to be motivated by principle first that refused to recognize just how qualitatively worse for their beliefs even a Harper minority would be making the Liberals sins in the past pale by comparison, especially if Harper got lucky enough to win a majority. Thankfully he prevented that with the being kept in check by the Liberal appointees, courts, judges, etc in the last week of the election which I think reminded Canadians why the hidden agenda card was more than empty rhetoric. There was more than enough to point out that this was not the time to make the Liberals the primary target, but Layton clearly was more interested in replacing the Liberals whatever the costs to the nation and the core principles of the NDP and too many loyal NDPers followed him (out of loyalty and a natural suspicion of any argument to not take out the main competitor for votes, which was understandable if shortsighted IMHO) and here we are.

I don't blame them too much, but I honestly was pointing out what my fears were based upon regarding the Calgary School, Straussianism, the meetings with Luntz, Norquist and Reed and other major operatives of the GOP machine over the years. His policy speech and paper as CA leader in 2003 about how Conservativism in Canada to survive and thrive needed to adopt the GOP "culture war" approach to politics, etc. But the lust for power and the willingness to believe Harper couldn't be that bad or that any damage he did would help motivate the voters for a NDP government to clean up the mess (I can't claim to know the inner workings of the minds of others on such a broad and individual matter,so this may be too broad a generalization to be fair but if it is it misses the mark only narrowly IMHO) was simply too strong to resist in too many and we have what we have today (mind you this was also the best chance they have had to try to get ahead of the Libs in decades, a hard lure to resist even for the best of people). Some listened, but not many, and of course because I was advocating being more worried about a CPC win than anything the Lib supporters took me as being on their side far more than I actually was.

I saw the problems with the Libs at the time and stated even then that were we facing any other circumstances than the one with Harper positioned to be the main beneficiary I would sit back and cheer the NDP on, but if they truly were the party of principles first and believed in those principles being the most important thing, then the defeat of Harper clearly was the right thing even if it was a short term hurt. Indeed, being willing to take the hit to block Harper could have helped long term by proving that the NDP still placed principles above power, and since the likelihood of the Libs getting a majority even with that cooperation being slim that time could have already happened by now.

At least I know and can take some comfort in knowing I did see the real danger of Harper's approach to government and how toxic/dangerous to the nation as a whole it would be. While I would much have preferred to not see this be proven out by reality, either by his loss or by his actions proving me wrong reality is what it is and he has shown himself to be corrupt where use/abuse of power is concerned, and I find that a much more dangerous flaw in a government than one that skims off taxpayer dollars while providing generally competent government (not saying that any corruption is a good thing, but humans being what they are a certain amount is inevitable where power is concerned, the trick is to keep it well pruned back and require that what little might be overlooked needing to be offset by competent government) while doing so. I said so then, and I suspect after the last two years many people that once thought I was nuts (especially in the soft NDP vote and the true believers in principles before all who in my area at least seem to be most annoyed with the Layton decisions of the past 28 months now) in the left and center/uncommitted are coming around to my point of view on this whether they would acknowledge it publicly or not.

Anyhow, have a good night KNB, I'll try to have the post up by the end of the afternoon tomorrow my time, which is only behind NFLD so it shouldn't be too late, I already have written thee post this year there, which sad to say is more than last year.

The Right is Where its At said...

Before criticizing this government how "delusional" that they are in particular when it comes to Minister Lunn concerning the nuclear reactor. According to the National Post and Canada's Auditor-General report suggest that there were "deficiencies" in 1998 and 2002. The last time I took a look,the Bloc was not in power back then,the NDP was not in power back then,the Green party did not have anyone elected back then so they were not in power,and of course Mr.Harper's Conservatives were not in power back then also. So let us all take a calculated guess shall we? Hmmm could it be maybe the "Liberals?" I know I'm being sarcastic here,but the problem started under the leadership of the liberals. Before we start throwing the word "delusional"around. We should ask ourselves this question. What have the Liberals done to remedy the situation from 1998 until they lost power in 2006? If my calculation is correct that is seven years of Liberal government.

If the Liberals would have done something about this problem back in 1998 we would not be having this conversation. Is it possible that the Liberals dropped the ball here? Remember they had seven years to do something.

Jay said...

Whine whine, but the liberals did it too. Whine, shift blame, whine, whine, whine.

All this means Right is whatever is that Lunn had even more info on the problems and means he knew even less about his department and responsibilities and the work he is supposed to be doing.

Why not question why all of the sudden the AECL felt it necessary to release documents that are so old? On the day that both Lunn and Keen were supposed to me questioned? Why not release the new ones containing the latest information? AECL has become a neo-tory lapdog releasing information to deflect damage from where it belongs...with Harper. They are the government, right? Two years and counting?

But then no one expects you to see whats going on because its not on the CPC website or talking points.

The Right is Where its At said...

Here is a quote from the same article that I forgot to mention.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr. Goodale said he declined to comment on the issue "for the simple reason that this goes back 10 years," the spokesman said. "He doesn't remember."

That is right he doesn't remember how convenient of him.

The Right is Where its At said...

Jay are you telling me that the report is false?

Jay said...

Not saying the report is false. What I am saying is we have had a different government for two years. The reactor was shut down with the neo-tories in power not liberals. AECL has released these two out of date reports very late yet made no such show for THIS YEARS report which for some strange reason was buried. The liberals didn't do anything during there tenure but then again it didn't get so bad it had to be shutdown under the liberals now did it.

What you should be asking is why Lunn did nothing even though there are reports going back to 1998 that things were not going so well. The current government took over responsibilty for this file 24 months ago and under it's watch the reactor had to be shut down with tons of forewarning yet Lunn has done nothing. He doesn't remember what happened two months ago. He doesn't remmeber any info that HAD to go before him and yet you worry about Goodale forgeting something that happened a decade ago.

You conservatives boogie the mind. The same people who don't support a enquiry on Mulroney going back to to far themselves, saying its been so long why bother, well themselves go back 10 years (15 for Climate Change) to shift blame onto a former government that lost power 24 months ago and the issue at hand happened last month.

Consistency would be nice so we actually get some idea of what conservative principles are supposed to be because honestly we haven't seen any in years.

2years to be exact.

The Right is Where its At said...

Jay you can spin how you want it. The fact of the matter is Jay,if the Liberals would have taken care of this problem back in 1998 we probably would not be having this conversation now. I'm not going to comment on Mulroney or climate change,because it has nothing to do with this post.

Jay said...

Still don't get it. Wow.

Ryan said...

I always knew the right could do no wrong. How many things has Harper done that you disagree with, John? Can you separate the self from the self-gratification of partisanship for one second?

catherine said...

To Right- exactly what problem are you referring to? There are lots of problems starting with a reactor that is beyond its life expectancy. Then there is the 25-30 year deal Mulroney made with MDS which requires AECL to provide them with isotopes below cost for another 10 years or so, the shortage of technical staff which has resulted in the two Maple reactors being a decade behind schedule, AECL agreeing to safety upgrades but not carrying them through,...

Aren't you concerned with how Harper has politicized this matter? By falsely presenting the situation with AECL managment as a "house cleaning", by exaggerating the "crisis" (very few uses of medical isotopes are urgent, there are typically alternative procedures, and for the few urgent cases with no alternatives, one can get isotopes from Europe as we have done in the past when Chalk River had to close down), demoting the regulator just before she was to appear for questioning,...

I actually agree that the Liberal governments should have done more to get a handle on the aging reactor, the sweet deal cut with MDS and how to recover from it, the shortage of technical staff, the need for renewal at AECL, the problems with the Maple reactors, etc. However, Harper's cheap partisanship and manufactured crisis makes it clear that he is not the leader to bring the indepth analysis needed to solve these problems.