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Harper and Cons halted prisoner transfers without bothering to tell anyone and while dissing the opposition.

The Canadian people really need to thank Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Union for taking the Conservative Government of Canada to court to try and stop Afghan prisoner transfers. For without that court case, the documents they obtained in the course of that court fight that showed the Conservatives KNEW there were credible cases of torture going in with prisoner transfers in Afghanistan never would have seen the light of day, and without that document being revealed, who knows when the Government of Canada would have admitted that prisoner transfers were halted in November without any announcement, which they only divulged because they were involved in this court […]

Even Conservative appointees dont like being scapegoated.

The lack of political savvy of Harper and the Conservatives in general over this Chalk River episode has been amazing to witness. As I mentioned yesterday, after Harper accuses the Nuclear Safety Board – and specifically its head Linda Keen – as being Liberal hacks endangering the safety of Canadians, we have the Globe and Mail discovering that the former head of the AECL who submitted his resignation was a former Canadian Alliance fundraiser who was picked by the Cons as they refused to hire another candidate despite independent recommendations to do so.

Today, the Globe talks to that former AECL Chairman, who isn’t particularly thrilled he was being made the scapegoat by the Cons for their handling of the situation, as he reveals that his resignation took place before the isotope story broke and was nothing more then an attempt by the Cons. to scapegoat him for the problems at Chalk River:

Michael Burns told The Globe and Mail he submitted his resignation as chair of the Crown corporation on Nov. 29, before the medical isotope crisis stemming from the Chalk River shutdown became public. His departure was announced last Friday with no explanation, but was soon linked by a key cabinet minister to the Chalk River situation..Health Minister Tony Clement has since connected leadership changes at AECL, including the replacement of Mr. Burns, a Vancouver energy executive and onetime Tory fundraiser, as well as the appointment of a new CEO, with the need to give the organization better management. “Well, maybe they do [need better management],” Mr. Burns shot back. “But this is a clumsy piece of political opportunism. If they’re going to do it, they could do it with a little more skill.” Asked whether he felt treated unfairly, he responded: “What’s unfair in politics? I just know that the facts won’t support it. I was gone for a totally different set of reasons. They dragged this resignation out and attached it to the isotope situation … They could have taken more care.”

In otherwards, Harper and Clement and the Cons. decided to make this resignation appear as if they were taking action on the crisis and holding someone accountable for the problem, when that wasn’t the case at all. To be sure, Michael Burns does talk about some of his complaints he has had with the CNSC in this article, and he does try to claim he was picked to be the AECL head for his expertise, not his Canadian Alliance connections, but he also rejects Harper’s charge that CNSC Chairman Linda Kenn was playing partisan politics with the CNSC’s decision to shut down the Chalk River plant.

Again, as with yesterday’s story over the partisan hacks charge, I’m not sure why Harper and Clement and the Cons. assumed the media wouldn’t bother trying to get Mr. Burns’ side of the story, or that he would stay quiet and take the scapegoating lying down.

I said at the start this was a lack of political savvy on the Conservatives part on this issue. I’ve changed my mind – it shows their total ineptness on this issue, and a very clumsy attempt to cast blame elsewhere other then at themselves.

Harper opens mouth, inserts foot.

Harper blamed the crisis over Chalk River on the “Liberal appointed Nuclear Safety Board”, making it out to be the fault of Liberal hacks (though as I pointed out, all are eminently qualified to be on the board).

Now, it turns out, the Globe and Mail has discovered that the recently resigned chairman of the Atomic Energy Board of Canada was a former fund-raiser of the Canadian Alliance Party, and that he was picked for the position over the advice of independent recommendations to choose another candidate.

Apparently, Harper doesn’t think the media does any fact-checking up here or something. They’re not perfect, but they aren’t quite to the compliant […]

Harper’s over-the-top partisanship strikes again.

Last night, in an emergency session, Parliament passed legislation which allows the nuclear plant at Chalk River to operate for 4 months and able to operate without the oversight of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the quasi-judicial body that is responsible for the oversight of nuclear plants running in this country. The emergency bill essentially overruled the safety concerns that the CNSC had in ordering the plant to be shut down. This was done in an unusual late night session, and even more unusual, involved actual interviews of witnesses in the House of Commons.

Whether you agree with that move or not is one thing (possible safety hazards vs getting production of medical isotopes going again); what I wanted to focus on today was Harper’s out-of-the-sky charge yesterday that it was “Liberal-appointed commissioners” who were imperiling the safety of Canadians, and the entire world for that matter. Harper’s partisanship was on full display, which Stageleft has kindly listed for all to see (Steve apparently fashions himself as an expert on nuclear safety, all of a sudden).

I decided to take a peek over at the CNSC website and take a look at the biographies of the Commissioners to see how qualified they were – since according to Harper’s description of them, all of them are just Liberal appointed hacks who were throwing up bureaucratic red tape to stop a reactor from running without just cause.

Let’s start with The President of the CNSC; Linda Keen who hails from from Alberta. She has a B.Sc in chemistry and an M.Sc in Agricultural Sciences. She has worked in the agriculture, mining, and nuclear sectors. She was the Chair of the International Nuclear Regulators Association in 2003. Pretty good looking credentials to me.

Dr. Christopher Barnes is next. All this guy did was get a Geology degree in England and then worked for NATO in Wales, and then managed to get 5 scientific awards for his work, including the Queen’s Jubilee medal. Oh, and he also was awarded the Order of Canada. I don’t know WHERE the Liberals got off putting this guy on the Commission 🙄

Dr. J. Moyra J. Mcgill is next up. She has 3 degrees in Engineering, and she’s the current Undergraduate chair in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University.

That leaves the last 2. First up is André Harvey, appointed in June 2006…. hmm.. June 2006…. I believe one Mr. Harper was in government at the time when this appointment was made. – curious… I wonder if he knows Harper is including him in the “Liberal appointed Nuclear Safety Commission” charge. Nevertheless, this fellow has his B. Sc in Civil Engineering and has an M .Sc in Water Management. Last is Alan Graham, who was a Liberal Cabinet Minister for Agriculture in New Brunswick in the 1990’s.

So to sum up, we have 2 Doctors and a Chairperson on this Commission with impressive credentials and with several awards to their credit, and we have another gentleman with good credentials who was an apparent Harper appointee, unless the Liberals did some magic I wasn’t aware of to get him appointed in June of 2006 when they weren’t even in power. That only leaves Alan Graham as a possible argument for him being a political appointment.

In otherwards, this is a Nuclear Safety Commission that has the credentials to back up any decision they make on closing down a nuclear plant or not. Harper’s over-the-top partisanship has impugned these person’s integrity and reputation, and he should be apologizing for it. Since that won’t happen in the House, the Liberals (and every other party for that matter) should be reading these persons credentials out loudly to anyone in the media who will listen. 4 of the 5 may have been appointed when the Liberals were in power, but its rather darn obvious that they were picked for their expertise.

Harper had better hope that no accident takes place at this facility while this 4 month moratorium of bypassing the CSNC is in effect. (Remember, the CSNC shut this plant down because it was lacking the proper safety upgrades the AECL had promised would be installed). His rantings on declaring “there is no health hazard” will come back to haunt him.

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