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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.


2 comments to Even Conservative appointees dont like being scapegoated.

  • Try looking at the whole thing with the idea in mind that Harper wants to sell AECL. General Electric is trying to buy it.

    The whole fiasco is being billed as a battle between incompetence and intransigence. A fair enough characterization.

    Harper chose to champion the incompetents while smearing the intransigent with a partisan label. Clement admitted the smear was a "shot across the bow" intended to pre-emptively counter what they saw as a partisan attack coming from the Grits.

    Harper wants to sell AECL. Canadian taxpayers own AECL. It is a huge player in the international nuclear energy field. It’s worth billions. After the latest fiasco, it is worth millions less than it was. That’s a big loss to Canadians when and if we sell our multi-billion dollar asset.

    Now, that a pesky regulator has been discredited and the public has been led to believe that our agencies were responsible for a worldwide crisis, CPC pundits are making the talk show circuit suggesting it might be time to rid ourselves of this troublesome AECL thing.

    Had Harper/Lunn/Clement insisted AECL and MDS use the available alternative isotopes, the fiasco would never have turned into a crisis that involved the House of Commons. By going the public route and playing politics to boot, Harper effectively downgraded the net worth of AECL while at the same time building a case for divestment.

    Billions of dollars are involved. We know from recent events that when billion dollar sales take place, million dollar commissions are awarded to those who facilitate the sale.

    A fully avoidable crisis was engineered so MDS would maintain its profit margin and would not have to resort to more expensive offshore supplies. Harper participated.

    Was he working for Canadians when he dragged AECL through the mud and discredited a regulatory agency?

    Or was he working toward the quick sale of a crown corporation? If divesting the taxpayer of AECL was Harper’s main motivation, it could be argued that he’s winning.


  • foottothefire

    Reform eat their young, their old and their loyal. 

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