CTV: Harper and Raitt Stand Defiant in Political Storm
CBC: PM Dismisses Fury Over Raitt's Isotopes Comments as 'Cheap Politics'
First things first, I realize I haven't updated this in a very long time. I will put the blame on school, which is now done. As such, I feel the things I write here may have a little more impact to them given that they are written by someone who possess a political science degree.
As I start thinking about the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper, I can't help but think that his legacy as a Prime Minister will be defined by Chalk River. Yet again, the Chalk River reactor has reared its head into Canadian News stories as yet another isotope shortage hits both Canada and the international community.
And much like the last time, there is controversy over bureaucratic actions. Unlike last time, no one has been fired from their post...There has been a resignation, related but not quite, and the demands for a resignation but no actual action on that front.
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, allow me to clarify: Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt has found herself in the middle of a perfect storm of the political variety. Her name first popped up when it was revealed that she had left confidential documents in regards to her ministry at a news station for a little over a week, with no inquiry into whether or not they were still there. Eventually, one of Raitt's staffers took the blame for the gaff and promptly resigned. Raitt offered up her resignation as well over the incident, but the Prime Minister refused to accept it.
Before moving on, some speculation over these documents is required. Most people commonly agree that it was political strategy documents that were left at the news station; mainly referring to the Harper Government's plan to sell Canadians and others on the sale/privatization of the Chalk River facility, in hopes of shoring up a good name for CANDU Reactors. So, what exactly does that mean?
If that was what the documents were about, then it would suggest that they were talking points to be used during interviews and such to calm fears and concerns over the sale of one of the largest producers of nuclear isotopes designed for medicine. It would also seem to suggest that the reason for doing so is to play up the reputation and potential future sale of CANDU Reactors.
The problem with this is that the CANDU Reactors already have a fairly good word of mouth behind them, even if they are nuclear reactors, and the sale of Chalk River doesn't really seem to have a chance of increasing this reputation. So, if we exclude that, the documents don't really play into the problem at hand with the Natural Resources Minister.
Where the problem does come in, is a recently released audio tape in which the Minister is heard bemoaning a colleague and fellow Minister (Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq), and saying that the issue of the isotope shortage is a 'sexy' issue that could further her own political career. I'm betting right about now is where the PM wishes he had accepted Raitt's resignation the first time.
So, now that there is blood in the water the opposition parties are calling for more...And rightly so. Raitt's actions are not the first time a Conservative Minister created a public relations gaff, in fact, the Conservative Party seems to be become adept at creating them. For those who doubt this, please see: Gerry 'Death by a Thousand Cold Cuts' Ritz, Tom 'There's A's and B's' Lukiwski, Pierre 'It's a Common Political Term' Poilievre, and pretty much anything John Baird says.
In fact, the comment made by Pierre Poilievre, which he never did apologize for, seem to be all but forgotten as another Conservative manages to stick their foot in their mouth. Perhaps this is Harper's new strategy; just keep passing the blame down the line until an unimportant backbencher says something stupid and gets stuck with the fallout.
The fact of the matter is, the Harper Conservatives have gotten away with impunity over comments that seems more and more ridiculous than the last. It is for that very important reason that Minister Raitt must do two things:
1.) She must apologize for her comments over the isotope shortage
2.) She must resign her cabinet portfolio, if not her seat in the House
Yet again, borrowing from George Bush, Harper is refusing himself and his ministers to admit to any wrong doing. If they just deny, condemn and ignore they think the issue will go away. However, after all the cases listed above this is no longer an option for the Harper Conservatives. If they want to regain any credibility, if they even had any to begin with, they must learn a fundamental lesson most of us learned around the age of five: You have to admit to your mistakes and apologize for them.
Effectively, as I said when I opened this post, if you asked me what issue the Harper Government is going to be remember most for; their constant mishandling in regards to everything Chalk River is definitely a contender.