She is, by all accounts scrappy, headstrong and not willing to suffer fools. And unless her friends miss their guess, Linda Keen may just be willing to become the poster girl for bureaucratic independence.
Ms. Keen, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission president who is at the centre of the storm involving the shutdown of the Chalk River reactor, has been pilloried by members of the Conservative government over the past two days for the shutdown that has stopped production of medical isotopes.
But if the Conservatives think they will intimidate Ms. Keen by calling her partisan and inflexible, her supporters say they may have another thing coming. Indeed, when asked if Ms. Keen would be willing to fight for her position up to the end, those who know her say that's probably likely.
"I suspect she would," said a former colleague who knew her well both at the Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources Canada.
"My impression of her is that the principles are real and her courage is very strong."
Her firmness was clearly on display on Tuesday night when she denied vehemently that she has any partisan background. The Tories, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had suggested that the Liberals were using Ms. Keen to keep the plant shut. Ms. Keen, he noted, is a previous appointee of the Liberal government.Reminds me of how Marc Mayrand of Elections Canada had to stand up to the onslaught against him, led by Conservatives, over the fake Muslim-veil issue. Attacking independent government officials is getting to be a specialty of the Harper government. Thankfully, these people are not willing to take it.
"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."