Friday, January 11, 2008

Is That An Election In The Air?

I see that PMSH has identified his "have you stopped beating your wife yet" club to attach to the next budget. The good news is that this is such a transparent tactic that I think the opposition parties can dodge it quite effectively.

However, the Globe and Mail reports some more bits with respect to the Chalk River NRU incident:

The fact is the minister and government have been aware for some time of the long-term financial and managerial challenges that exist at AECL,” Mr. Harper said. “These are very serious problems that have developed over a very long period of time. There are no short-term solutions.”

Hold it, right there. So, not only did AECL fail to implement safety upgrades it agreed to in 2006 (when the Conservatives were already in power), but clearly the ministry was aware of issues with AECL, and took exactly zero steps to intervene? Really? Instead, the Harper government sits on the whole situation and lets it fester. Today, with egg all over their faces, they now turn and try to blame the whole business on the CNSC because it would not (and could not without breaking laws) be a pliant tool of Conservative desires for a politically expedient solution.

From what I'm hearing in there, it sounds to me more like AECL needs a serious amount of house cleaning, not the CNSC. The government itself needs to stand up and take responsibility for its own inaction through 2006-2007 on this matter, as well as it's clear lack of understanding of the relationship between the House of Commons and regulatory agencies of the government.

Harper's "feel good" announcement, along with his continued attacks on the leadership of the CNSC, are attempts to divert public attention from his own ineptitude in handling serious situations when they get into crisis. Even more pathetic is the fact that his own advisors can't be bothered to actually understand the situation either.

(BTW - Albertans could find themselves facing two concurrent elections. If the Harper government falls on its budget, and Stelmach calls an expected March vote, there is an enormous chance that Albertans will find two electoral campaigns running at the same time)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The real problem where the Chalk River reactor situation is simply this, the people in power are not knowledgeable, do not and never will have the knowledge, background or experience to deal with issues such as engineering, science or technology. I have yet to see a minister with anything other than a background in law, business or economics come to the forefront. These ministers only know about the bottom line or legal ass covering and finger pointing. The majority wouldn't know the difference between a fuel rod and a control rod if both were dropped on their desks. I'm also certain that the majority wouldn't understand how a reactor works and why regular safety systems updates are needed. Given what little I've read about the past responses to concerns brought up to the ministers responsible their attitude seemed to be if the reactor wasn't pulling a 'Chernobyl' then 'don't worry, be happy'........

The attitude towards the CNSC is nothing new, it's a standard attitude towards regulatory agencies across the board in North America. Remember that when you next get on an US airline. Agencies can for the most part only make 'recommendations' to industry; industry has the privilege to decide whether or not to carry them out. Now, maybe I'm wrong in some cases but it appears to be a recurring trend.

Canada's current problems with its economic situation is a long festering one. The biggest problem we face are the various inter-provincial trade boundaries that have been placed over the century. They serve no purpose other than to supposedly protect local industries from 'unfair' outside competition and provide jobs locally but as we've seen this is far from the case. Ask a anglo-speaking tradesman to try and find work in Quebec and see how successful he is, but Quebec can go out to other provinces and underbid local trades for work; this was the issue in the 90's. And for you beer drinkers out there, has anyone ever tried to get a beer brand from outside your province? You can't unless that producers open a brewery locally. If the economy of this nation is to drastically improve then these barriers have to come down. Otherwise we will be at the mercy of the US economy who is our biggest trading partner. If we are as a nation to improve our economic picture without becoming a
'resource satellite' of whatever current economic powerhouse in play, we need to co-ordinate between the provinces new trade agreements and be fair & flexible about it. Stop protecting at our expense industries that are outmoded, that refuse to update and retrain their people to new ideas and technologies. The complaints against 'green' technologies is a weak one at best; new industries can open up with the right education, direction and incentives but it would appear that the very government(s) that expects us to 'talks the Talk' is unwilling to help us 'walk the Walk', let alone do it themselves.

We need to show the governments that we no longer are interested in their 'smoke and mirrors' show, whether it's over health, the environment or some other subject. We need to have facts ready to show their efforts to be the anemic, window dressing attempting to cover up the results of years of neglect and willful ignorance, regardless of which party they belong to. We need to get people to vote, accept the consequences of their vote and learn to be more informed. Maybe we can't afford the time to know everything, but if we turn our trust over to other people we'd better make informed choices of who we're turning thing over to. Our current lot of 'charmers' in Ottawa and Edmonton are as much our fault as it is anyones.