Saturday, July 11, 2009

Canadians getting what Mr. Harper doesn't

Letters to the editor of the Globe today respond to the news that our nuclear medicine industry in Canada is in jeopardy due to the U.S. move to produce its own isotopes, a consequence of the Harper government's mismanagement of the file:
Meltdown over Chalk River

Stephen Harper can be content he’ll go down in history as a worthy successor to John Diefenbaker, now that he has his own version of the Avro Arrow (Canada’s Medical Isotope Industry In Peril As U.S. Moves To Make Its Own Supply - July 10).

His thoughtless suggestion that we get out of the isotope industry will soon bear fruit. The U.S. is responding and Canadian expertise and creativity will drain south, just as our aerospace talent did after the Arrow to fuel the success of NASA and the U.S. aeronautical industry.

James Wadsley, Hamilton, Ont.

............

The front page of yesterday’s Globe was classic Canadian government: An exceptional President Barack Obama at the top of the page (Obama Bends To Bring Emerging Nations On Side), and a Canadian government leadership screw-up at the bottom of the page (Canada’s Medical Isotope Industry In Peril As U.S. Moves To Make Its Own Supply).

Leaders make history, they don’t let history happen.

Mike Matulewicz, Mississauga, Ont.

............

Stephen Harper makes a big deal of attacking Michael Ignatieff’s credentials as a Canadian because of his time spent outside the country.

Meanwhile, he as much as hands our medical isotope industry to the Americans by walking away from it. If that’s his idea of being a Canadian, he needs to spend some time outside the country.

J.W. Villiers, Fredericton
They're not feelin' the "Stephen Harper: Leadership" mojo either. The consequences of the Harper government's actions are clearly sinking in.

Yet Mr. Harper, in a Friday interview with the Globe, comments on Canada's future in energy production as if he's in a bubble:
Harper: Well we've... we have a range of... We have a range of funding for technology. There is a... There is a green technology fund... There is a clean technology fund and a green fund. Both can fund technology. Neither are exclusive to carbon capture and storage, although carbon capture and storage is a big focus, and will be a big focus of Canada. But we're already putting, you know, all kinds of money into tidal power, not to mention money we're putting through AECL and the development of the next generation nuclear reactor. So we're... You know, Canada will continue to make significant investments into energy technology. As I've said, you know, our... we are an energy superpower, our goal is to be a clean energy superpower. And I believe that given Canada's... I believe two things. First of all, given Canada's natural resource endowment in energy, plus... combined with our, you know, with our history of allowing market forces to reign in the economic field, which has made our industry very robust generally, that I think we should aim to be a leading provider of energy no matter what form that energy is and no matter what technology develops it. I think it would be a real problem if we... for this country if we became a laggard in the energy business.
There is nothing about the Harper strategy on the isotope file that supports his response above. Nuclear researchers, doctors and technicians will be leaving us in droves as a result of us getting out of isotope production and the U.S. getting into it.
...if Chalk River goes dark that could extinguish the country's bright lights in nuclear research: The reactor makes Canada a nucleus of global innovation in the field that many fear could vanish alongside the country's isotope-producing capabilities.
Canadians, it seems, are getting a sense of this. But what on earth is Mr. Harper blathering on about?

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