Thursday, July 08, 2010

Tell us more, Mr. Science

First up on the science file, let's go way back with Tony Clement to January, 2008:
“She got it wrong,” Mr. Clement told reporters, defending the government’s decision to fire Ms. Keen for not putting medical isotope production ahead of installing backup pumps to protect against potential radioactive leaks in the event of an earthquake.

“When you balance the health and safety of Canadians versus the possibility of an earthquake never seen in the Ottawa Valley in human history, she got it wrong.”
Yeah, about that human history thing...you knew this was coming:

(Source)

Plus Clement was just way off there, even in January of 2008 there had been two recent earthquakes in December in the Chalk River area and it's a known seismic area. Anyway, this is the ministerial stuff we have to run such files.

Second item here...AECL's privatization is still on the government's agenda at the moment, rolled up in that budget legislation that's in the Senate now, which it really shouldn't be. A prudent government would have separate legislation devoted to such a major sale of a Canadian crown corporation. But not this one. In the minority government situation in which we find ourselves where it's either election or vote down the budget bill, it's the budget bill that's going to pass.

Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis testified before a Senate committee yesterday, confirming that yes, a 100% sale of the crown corporation could occur, meaning a foreign owner could be taking over control of Canada's nuclear agency. He's citing 3 conditions the government is looking to ensure are maintained:
— Ensure nuclear remains a safe, clean, reliable, economic energy source for Canadians. This includes a guarantee that current Candu reactors in operation in Ontario and New Brunswick are serviced and maintained.
— Control costs to government and maximize the return on taxpayers' investment.
— Position the nuclear industry in Canada to seize domestic and global opportunities.
But as critics point out, these talking points are not part of the legislation. Further, we've seen problems with sales to foreign owners of key industries with conditions that have been discarded and spawned lawsuits. The government can fight the company in the courts, in the meantime, the jobs are still gone.

Some of the criticism surrounding Paradis' appearance and the AECL privatization issue is worth highlighting:
"I think what they're doing is preparing the ground for abandoning any responsibility for atomic energy. ... It's going to be catastrophic."
And:
"It's losing all the knowledge, and losing the company to a foreign entity,"said Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette. "The foreign entities are foreign-owned by governments, so it's another government buying what Canadians and Canadian tax dollars have built over 50 years. "This, for me, would be a tragedy."
And:
...by privatizing AECL, the government is in effect allowing others - in this case foreign governments - to formulate part of Canada's domestic energy policy.

"Privatization is code for, 'We don't have the foggiest idea what to do, so let's dodge the hard decisions, grab some cash now, and let future generations deal with the consequences,'" Cadham said.
With about 30,000 jobs related to the nuclear industry in Canada, what happens with AECL and our nuclear industry is important. The government wants no scrutiny of what they're going to do? They'll wear it fully.

(h/t a little birdie)