Thursday, May 28, 2009

They're doing their "best" and that's the problem

Speaking of having "...a prime minister who has literally made his career attacking and undermining the legitimacy of Canadian institutions," the Conservative brain trust have announced today that they will sell Atomic Energy Canada Ltd., the Crown corporation that runs the Chalk River nuclear facility that is presently in shutdown. Yes, that's right, in the midst of a critical shutdown that's causing rationing of medical isotopes for critical medical diagnoses for Canadians with life threatening diseases, the priority from the Harper gang is to privatize the thing, including the managing of the Chalk River facility. No government interest too sacred to hive off, even an asset evoking the highest public safety concerns! A diversionary tactic to make it look like they have a plan to resolve matters? If so, not working:

A heavy-water leak shut down the 52-year-old NRU reactor two weeks ago, and the company says it will be out of commission for at least three months.

AECL ran out of medical isotopes over the weekend and doctors are scrambling to collect a scarce supply from the world's four other isotope-producing reactors.

The likely motive:
A sale could help the government shrink its budget deficit, which Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said this week will be more than C$50 billion ($44.7 billion) in 2009.
Better make that $57 billion, Canadians! What a great time for such a sale.

And more irony from the gang who can't shoot straight, who fired Linda Keen with all the pique they could muster, accusing her of contributing to the medical jeopardy of Canadians back during the 2007 shutdown (Bloomberg link):
Today’s announcement comes after AECL said it won’t be able to meet international demand for medical isotopes because a reactor was shut down unexpectedly May 14. The National Research Universal reactor, which was shut down after a power outage, will stay offline for at least three months, according to a May 27 company statement.

Raitt also appointed an expert panel to find long-term solutions for the production of medical isotopes, which are used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other illnesses.

We’re doing the best that we can do,” Raitt said.(emphasis added)
Well, that's an interesting contrast to her boss back in the day. Here was Harper thundering about the health and safety of Canadians in 2007:
"The government has independent advice indicating there is no safety concern with the reactor," Harper told the Commons in December 2007.

"On the contrary, what we do know is that the continuing actions of the Liberal-appointed Nuclear Safety Commission will jeopardize the health and safety and lives of tens of thousands of Canadians."
Not so much outrage anymore when there's no one to blame for failing to plan for the next inevitable shutdown that's now upon us. Another day, another example of the totally discredited Harper crew.

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