Thursday, January 17, 2008

Finally showing their true colours

What a disgusting display of political interference in judicial matters by a right-wing conservative government: no, I'm not talking about the Bush administration, I'm talking about the Canadian government.

The Chalk River nuclear plant in Chalk River, Ontario is about 180 km from where I live. It supplies something like two-thirds of the world's medical radioisotopes, used for cancer diagnosis and treatment. In 2007, the plant was shut down temporarily for maintenance, but when the arms-length agencies that govern peaceful use of atomic energy in Canada saw that part of the plant's safety system wasn't working, they extended the shutdown until the problem was fixed.

The "problem" was that the plant was missing some key safety features that would prevent a meltdown in the event of an earthquake. My understanding is that the plant, like much of this region, sits on a major fault line. It's not as active as the San Andreas fault in California, for example, but it's just as major. A condition of the Chalk River plant's operating license is that it has to have this seismic backup system. So the experts shut it down in order to deal with the problem.

Well, our wonderful Conservative government, which has been really good at stealthily and quietly spending all of our tax surpluses and generally escaping public notice for its entire time in office, decided to interfere and override the decision of the two major nuclear governing bodies in Canada. Because we all know what scientific geniuses government ministers are. So yeah, they're definitely qualified to make that decision above the outcry of the scientific community.

The government claimed it was taking exceptional action in order to save lives, but their constant reference to the nuclear watchdog bodies as "Liberal-appointed" organizations shows their true colours: the Conservatives are putting politics ahead of safety. And I (along with a lot of other Canadians, I imagine) ask them: what about the lives of those whose world would be obliterated in the event of a meltdown? Like, the residents of Ontario within the fallout zone, for example. And the lives of all those who need isotopes and would now have to wait for a new facility to be set up? And on top of that, what ever happened to rule of law? Since when is the government allowed to interfere in the decisions of judicial bodies in this country?

My life has been affected by cancer, just like the lives of pretty much everyone I know. I don't want people to die. I've lost people I love. I thought I was going to lose my dad this year. But I'm telling you, if we don't have rule of law, we have less than nothing.

But here's where the scary part comes in. The president of one of the bodies that made the decision to shut down the reactor, Linda Keen, is one of the country's key watchdogs for nuclear safety. She was supposed to testify before a parliamentary committee today about this whole mess. Only it looks like she may not be able to do that now. You see, she was fired. Last night. At literally the 11th hour--11 p.m.

THAT's what kind of government the Conservatives are. Moderates, my ass. I never thought I'd see the day when our government started to resemble the Bushies. This story's gonna explode like a mushroom cloud.

Read more here.


Blogger tsduff said...

I find it impossible to wrestle with the minds of the people in power. I can't understand their thinking... probably because the only common denominator would be money, of which I have very little. It is appalling that Linda Keen was fired - but not shocking. It feels as though we are all in a canoe swmimming upstream without a paddle.

3:35 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

Too right, TS, and I think I know the name of the creek we're paddling...

10:20 AM  
Blogger Klokka said...

goodness, sounds terrible! while reading i was overjoyed that we have absolutely no atomic power driven anything in norway.. but then i remembered we have. oops.

meddling polititcians, they come everywhere.. double-oops.

1:50 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

Yes, politicians are the global unifier...or should I say political ineptitude is the global unifier.

The other day I drove behind someone with a funny bumper sticker. It said:

"Don't act stupid. We have politicians for that."

Made me laugh!

3:19 PM  

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