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Somewhere out there, Garth Turner is smiling.

Lisa Raitt was a candidate hand-picked by Prime Minister Harper in the Halton riding that defeated Garth Turner (she was a parachuted candidate, remember – the local Conservative association was not allowed to vote on a candidate for MP there). She was no doubt given a cabinet minister position partially because she helped remove a thorn out of Harper and the Conservatives side. She also had been in a prominent bureaucratic position in Toronto as well, so one would think she’d have some level of competence required to be a minister.

Unfortunately for her, however, she has shown she’s no better at handling secret Cabinet documents then Maxime Bernier was, as she or some of her staff left documents on the Chalk River nuclear plant – some marked “secret” – at a CTV television station last week, with details just being published late last night. If the Maxime Bernier case is a precedent – and it should be – then Harper should be asking for Raitt’s resignation today.

What I found more interesting though, and what I hope doesn’t get lost in any furor over Raitt’s careless mishandling of her documents, is what those documents contain:

Sensitive government documents left behind at a CTV News bureau reveal Ottawa has poured far more money into the aging Chalk River nuclear reactor than the public has been told…In documents headlined “Background for discussion with chair of Atomic Energy Canada,” the government lists funding for the Crown corporation at $351 million for 2009-2010. That figure was in the January budget. However, it also lists $72 million to “maintain the option of isotope production.” The public 2009 budget does not specifically mention funding for isotopes. The documents also include a hand-written note that lists total funding for Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd. since 2006 at $1.7 billion, and then a talking-point memo to characterize the spending as “cleaning up a Liberal mess.” …Other documents highlight cost increases for AECL that have not been made public. In one document headlined “Discussion with CEO Hugh MacDiarmid, CEO of Atomic Energy Canada,” it lists $100 million in supplementary funding to keep it solvent. That figure includes cost increases to refurbishing Ontario’s Bruce Power reactors and cost-overruns at Candu reactors around the world, according to the documents.

There should be serious questions asked in QP today as to whether both the public and Parliament has been misled by this government on the exact costs of Chalk River, as well as apparently what else has been going on at Canadian nuclear facilities. Plus, we see a clear directive to try and pin any of this extra cost on the Liberals. This makes the Conservative government as a whole responsible for these deceptions, and they need to be held accountable for it. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is quoted today as saying he believes “the Conservatives’ inability to keep the isotope-producing Chalk River nuclear reactor in service has raised questions about the Harper government’s competence”, and that this is also a reason to consider bringing down the Conservative government. Well, these left-behind documents and their revelations should justify him in saying that, and quite frankly, in my view, of trying to bring down the Conservative government.

7 comments to Somewhere out there, Garth Turner is smiling.

  • Torontonian

    So this is what happens when the Conservatives override the riding and put in their own candidate.

    Just like children with a chemistry set: KA-BOOM!

  • EM

    I’m of the same opinion as Bob Rae. Raitt was probably comfortable leaving the binder at CTV because she considered CTV a branch of the government.

  • I suspect CTV was waiting for someone from MNR to call them asking if the papers were there. What blows my mind is that apparently nobody noticed the thing was missing.

    I hope Garth is smiling, but even if she’s tossed out of cabinet it’ll be cold comfort. The best revenge will be to find a new Liberal candidate for Halton who can take her down altogether – and then hold to the high standard that Garth set as our MP.

  • Marty

    If the documents are secret, top secret, or even just classified, what business does CTV even have to open them? When you find a wallet, do you look at all the cards in it to figure out who it belongs to? CTV probably already knew who it belonged to and their “perusal” of the documents should be considered a crime.

    News gathering like this is why the media no longer has the respect it used to.

    M.B.

  • Other than Lloyd Robertson and Jay Ingram, there are very few trustworthy reporters at CTV and its sister networks. Be that as it may, I am still amazed that it’s come to this, again. And I noted last night that Fife was mentioning that nothing had come from the government requesting information on possibly missing documents.

    Can you imagine if it was the battle plans for the next stage of the offensive in Kandahar?

    Or a bucket of blasting caps? Nearly thirty years ago, a bucket of blast caps went missing from the quarry right across the street from where I went to elementary school. There was a region-wide APB and even people in Toronto were warned to be on the lookout. They still haven’t been found, as far as I know.

    I do agree, it’s rather suspicious CTV sat on this for a week. Isn’t possession of top-secret material without authorization itself a violation of the Security of Information Act?

  • slg

    What took CTV so long to report? I think it smells bad. They talk about a note “cleaning up Liberal mess”????

    C’mon, it’s not like CTV has aided Harper before.

    If there’s one newsmedia I truly don’t trust it’s CTV>

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I don’t allow anonymous comments on here – so I’m removing the comment. If you want to leave something.. you need to send me at least a valid email address. – Scott

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