Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday notes

1. Nuclear fallout:

Bit of a misleading headline here: "Alternatives emerge for Chalk River isotopes." Um, not really. McMaster's production ramp-up will require a reactor modification and money while the B.C. company that's mentioned has the technology but needs to build a site. When the shortage of medical isotopes is pressing, such a headline suggests some kind of imminent resolution. Even the minister admits, in respect of the alternatives...
“None of them are ready for the immediate, short-term future,” she said.
You have to wonder though, since the McMaster option sounds like it's the closest possibility to assisting in production, why it was not seriously looked into post-2007's incident. Further, we should be asking why it is just now that this "expert panel" is being tasked with coming up with a solution for future suppliers.

2. EI national standard push:

Gordon Campbell is adding his voice to those calling for a national standard for EI eligibility with an op-ed in the Globe. Kind of a big splash for him, newly re-elected and now with some leverage to push the issue. He's doing so despite the Conservatives' hiding behind their deficit shield now and in a timely fashion given the apparent hardening of positions among the federal parties. Not sure about all the details he's offering, but Campbell's move for a national standard is the big headline and is not going to help the Harper position whatsoever. Looks like they know this given the typical attack style response they emailed the Globe.

Edmonton Journal editorial today also calls for Harper to give in on EI.

3. Massive Conservative deficit watch:

Globe editorial wrongly puts the size of the $50 billion and counting deficit on the shoulders of both Liberals and Conservatives. Globe concludes "...if it is larger than it needs to be, it was a group effort that made it so." No. It's billions larger than it should be solely due to Conservative policy choices leading up to this recession. That's important. Look at a different editorial today which helps out on the point:
Coming into office with a built-in surplus of $13 billion, the Conservative government proceeded to hike spending by some 19 per cent, to $208.1 billion last year from $175.2 billion in Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale's last budget.

The prime minister then ignored the advice of all credible economists and, to keep an ill-conceived election promise, slashed the GST by two points -- a move that cost the treasury $12 billion.

This was particularly curious, considering Mr. Harper abandoned the election promise to Saskatchewan that he would keep resources out of equalization, proving his disdain for Robert Service's observation that "a promise made is a debt unpaid."

Remember the $1.3 billion Leopard 2 tank boondoggle? Anyone? It's also a stretch to put responsibility for any deficit numbers on the shoulders of the Liberals given the clear pattern of obfuscation and withholding of the numbers from the Canadian public by the Conservatives. How can anyone share in that?

4. Attack ad aftermath:

Rick Salutin should consider that just because something is made an issue in a Conservative attack ad does not mean that it is a legitimate issue or worthy of response. Just sayin'. We could spend all day on these things and I'm sure they'd love the media to start asking all these questions. That's part of why they run them too.

Barbara Yaffe today deems Jim Flaherty a walking, talking negative ad all by his lonesome, all $50 billion dollar man's worth:
The Liberals' tag for Flaherty -- "the $50-billion man" -- is far more likely to stick than any mudpies in Conservative ads about Ignatieff being elitist or speaking French with a Parisian rather than a Quebecois accent.
On the subject of civility in the wake of the attack ads, from someone who attended a recent meeting of church leaders with Ignatieff in Ottawa:
This is a small snapshot, but it opened a window for me on why Stephen Harper and company are spooked. Michael Ignatieff is not Barack Obama, and probably not even a Trudeau (although time will tell), but we can certainly look forward to a much-needed upgrade in political discourse with him on the scene.
That we could certainly use around here...

For more on this topic, see: Blog Post Index: Medical Isotope crisis & Chalk River shutdown.