Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Conservatives Behaving Badly: Gary Lunn

In a literal 11th hour move, Natural Resources minister poodle, Gary Lunn, decided last nite to launch a pre-emptive strike against the Nuclear Safety Commission's president Linda Keen by firing her in the dead of nite - just in time for today's hearings on the Chalk River reactor radioisotopes affair.

Lunn was on the hot seat as he appeared before a Commons committee this morning to explain his government’s handling of the isotope crisis last fall, caused by the shutdown of the Chalk River nuclear reactor.

Liberal MP Omar Alghabra charged that Lunn stepped over the line in his dealings with the arm’s-length, quasi-judicial commission, culminating in the government’s decision late Tuesday night to dump Keen as its president.

But Lunn said that Keen had ignored the growing health crisis caused by the shortage of medically vital isotopes as the shutdown dragged on.

Keen also failed to act on the government’s repeated demands that the commission take the health consequences into account, and did not take steps that would allow the aging reactor to resume production, Lunn told the committee.

“There was a serious issue. Lives were at stake,” Lunn said.

He refused to take responsibility for his part in all of this, of course.

Keen refused to testify at today's hearing. Although she's lost her job as the head of the commission, Lunn decided she should stay on as a member. How very generous of him.

More, via the CBC:

Another Liberal MP, Lloyd St. Armand, questioned whether Lunn had gone against the government's code of conduct by making two phone calls to Keen about the situation.

The code states that ministers should not intervene or appear to intervene in quasi-judicial tribunals on issues requiring a decision.

Lunn responded that the calls were to obtain information from Keen, as is "completely appropriate" for any minister.

Liberal MP David McGuinty accused the Conservatives of U.S. Republican-style tactics by dismissing Keen in the "dark of night," just hours before she was due to testify before the Commons committee.

"These are the kind of Republican tactics this town has never seen before, that are new to Canadians," McGuinty told the committee. "What kind of conduct is this, minister? What kind of government are you a part of?"

I'm sure those were meant to be rhetorical questions since anyone with half a clue knows exactly what kind of government the Conservatives are running: authoritarianism gone wild.

While Harper stands by his man, it looks like yet another public inquiry may be in the offing - and so it should be.

Photo credit: Tyler Anderson/National Post

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