Saturday, February 23, 2008

Where were they six weeks ago?

Lord Kitchener's Own, Accidental Deliberations and Impolitical have excellent coverage of two Globe and Mail articles, here and here. First is more evidence of a conspiracy between the Harper government and AECL to find a way to rid themselves of a nuclear regulator who placed safety above political or commercial considerations.
AECL's private-sector partners, including SNC-Lavalin, GE Canada and Hitachi Canada, hired some of the best-connected lobbyists in Ottawa to carry that message forward; other industry members complained directly to the Prime Minister's Office, sources said.

"We've tried to communicate however we could to whomever we could, to make this point," said Patrick Lamarre, president of SNC-Lavalin's nuclear division.

Michael Burns, the B.C.-based wind power executive who Mr. Lunn appointed as chairman of AECL, began to lobby the minister, whom he said he spoke with once a week during his chairmanship, about addressing the problems with Ms. Keen and her commission.

"I told [Mr. Lunn] then the dysfunctional relationship was going to cause serious trouble for commercial operations at the company. I told him we were going to have a train wreck. And I gave him a plan to fix it," Mr. Burns said.

The goal, he said, was to induce the government to legislate an overhaul at the CNSC, including Ms. Keen's position.

That's just the start, however, and if you haven't read the whole piece in the G&M, you're missing critical information, including the fact that had Harper not gone ballistic in Parliament and overrode the regulator that an agreement between then CNSC chair Linda Keen and AECL would have seen the Chalk River reactor restarted within a few days anyway. Did you hear that out of Harper or Lunn? No.

Secondly, the next article focuses on Gary Lunn and the apparent mush that has misplaced his memory.

Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn was sent information about the impasse between Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and Canada's nuclear regulator at least two days before the afternoon he says he learned about the problem, a source alleges.

Mr. Lunn has testified before a parliamentary committee that his staff first alerted him on Dec. 3 to the fact that the nuclear reactor that produces more than half of the world's medical isotopes had been shut down indefinitely due to an ongoing, month-old dispute between the Crown-owned AECL and its regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

However, a highly placed source close to Atomic Energy told The Globe and Mail that an e-mail was sent to Mr. Lunn before the Dec. 1 weekend underscoring the need for him to turn his attention to the mounting problem.

"I sent an e-mail on Nov. 29 or 30 ... which said this is serious, we need to get on this," the source said.

That article too, requires a full read because either Gary Lunn is a liar or he is completely and utterly incompetent.

The coverage is captivating. And I can't add to the comment on them beyond what the blogs mentioned above have already done. I do, however, have a point - a different point.

It is February 23rd. Back in early December 2007 we were smelling a set up. There was far too much wrong with the way the story broke and with the direction it took. There were others who were piecing together information which suggested a manufactured crisis.

Well before that however, someone caught a whiff in the wind that something was rumbling around Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., a Crown corporation responsible to Gary Lunn.

All of those suspicions arose from two things:

1. Harper, despite attempts by his spin machine and the media to portray him otherwise, is still the same Reform Party anti-regulation narcissist who wrote the Alberta Firewall letter, who despises the federal structure of Canada and who plays to a base which more aptly fits in the right-wing of the US Republican Party; and,

2. Various media and non-media reports, when taken together, dispelled the myth of a global isotope shortage; the basic premise for Harper launching a highly publicized outrage.

While the G&M's articles shed a great deal of light on the real motivation for Harper's charade and exposes Lunn as something of a hapless dim bulb, it seems to be a month late at the least. Understandably, news outlets need to exercise extreme care before they run with a story, but without too much effort a great deal of information was found which told more of a story than the media seemed willing, (or is it able?), to produce.

In short, with the exception of a few, there seems to be a resistance on the part of reporters and editors to engage in tough questions based on skepticism. Perhaps it is the result of damaging media convergence or perhaps it is fear that too many tough questions will put a reporter out in the cold, but if bloggers are able to gather together enough information to be able to point at government malfeasance shouldn't news organs, who purport to represent a questioning public, be able to do it?

As much as the permanently established and professional journalists provide the feedstock for bloggers, that can change. If you need proof, it's right here.

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