Cyberwanderer’s Blog

January 16, 2008

CNSC Linda Keen Firing, Gary Lunn before the committee

Filed under: Canada,Politics — cyberwanderer @ 4:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ok, I have enough of this circus. Thought I write an extensive piece on the whole episode of AECL isotope crisis and what Gary Lunn said in today’s committee hearing. Linda Keen through the CNSC e-mailed the committee at 10:45 am saying on grounds that she is no longer president of CNSC, she has to reconsider the appropriateness of her appearing before the committee. If the intent was to silence her and avoid her appearance from the committee, it works. One user named Jack Sprat predicted correctly in Globe and Mail forum at 1:57 am that:

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The timing is very deliberate. No doubt Harper believes that she will sue and, therefore, will be advised not to comment at the committee meeting. So only what Lunn says will be on the record.closequote.jpg

Gary Lunn took the usual excuse of Linda Keen putting the life of Canadian at risk, hoping that his government own shortcomings will go unnoticed. When pressed if Harper knew about his letter threatening to fire Ms. Keen, he repeatedly avoided the question and one time pass it to his deputy who said she doesn’t know. They seem to be covering for the Prime Minister since interfering in an independent quasi-judicial body could land them in hot water.

I guess the best way to unmask their spin, and their attempt to point the finger of blame squarely at CNSC, is to go through the time line of the event.

First a background on AECL and what could have contributed to its lack of funds.

AECL Loses Revenue to Private company

  • Under the Mulroney government, AECL’s lucrative revenue from medical isotopes productions was sold to private firm MDS Nordion.
  • Construction by AECL of two new Maple reactor to replace the NRU reactor was mired with budget overrun and safety / licensing issues.
  • MDS Nordion sued AECL and AECL was forced to undergo settlement with MDS paying them $25 million. AECL was to assume the ownership and all cost for the unfinished Maple reactor.
  • Most of the revenue from the isotope production would still go to MDS Nordion as per their 40 year supply agreement.

So basically, taxpayer have to shoulder all the cost of reactor and isotopes production but MDS Nordion would still get most of the revenue.

Timeline of the isotope crisis

June 2006: CNSC extends AECL’s license but expressed concerns about the “design adequacy” of the reactor. AECL assures CNSC there would be safety upgrades including emergency power supply to two heavy-water pumps.

Early 2007: Toronto Star report that Harper might be planning to privatize AECL.

Early Nov. 2007: CNSC in a routine meeting inquired about upgrades and found out that the pumps were not connected.

Nov. 19, 2007: NRU reactor shutdown by AECL for scheduled maintenance and AECL on its own decided to extend the closing to November 22nd to look into the pumps issue.

Nov. 29, 2007: Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn office was informed of the shutdown.

Nov. 30, 2007: MDS Nordion publicly announced interruptions in supplies of medical isotopes due to NRU’s reactor extended shutdown.

Dec. 5, 2007: Health Minister Tony Clement claim he was not told of the reactor shutdown by Gary Lunn until this day.

Dec. 8, 2007: After long period of inaction, Gary Lunn pressured Ms. Keen to restart the reactor. Ms. Keen explained that there’s legal requirement to be met to amend the license.
Curiously, Gary Lunn withdrew Department of Justice (the legal consultant of CNSC) service from CNSC when they needed it most to expedite amendment of the license requirement.

December 2006: Harper tabled legislation and Liberal party agree as long as they hear from expert first to ensure reactor will be operating safely. (Overnight hearing were held, a first since World War II).

Mr. Harper started his attack on Ms. Linda Keen of CNSC accusing her of being a Liberal partisan and risking the lives of Canadians.

Dec. 12, 2007: Emergency legislation was passed.

After the legislation passed, Harper then told Ms. Keen that the passing of the legislation is an indication that all parties don’t have confidence in her. (Some opposition disputed that in this morning’s committee hearing. They claim that the opposition vote on the emergency legislation was to speed up the restarting and has nothing to do with confidence in CNSC)

December 14, 2007: Stephen Harper quietly accepted resignation of his appointee at AECL – Michael Burns, a former fundraiser for Harper’s old party Canadian Alliance. Harper consistently blame CNSC but avoided saying anything about AECL.

January 8, 2007: CNSC Linda Keen shot back at Gary Lunn on his threatening phone calls of December 8 and letter. She points out that AECL decided to extend the shutdown and not her agency.

January 9, 2007: CTV news report that Gary Lunn may have known as early as September. From Auditor General Sheila Fraser report on September 5, 2007. The cover page of the audit says:

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We would like to draw your attention to a significant deficiency related to the unresolved strategic challenges that the Corporation faces … it is our view that this report contains information that should be brought to the attention of the Minister of Natural Resources. Accordingly, following consultation with the Board, we will be forwarding a copy of the report to the Minister.
closequote.jpg

What took Gary Lunn so long to inform Health Minister Tony Clement and to take any action when MDS Nordion have already publicly announced on November 30, 2007 that there will be shortage of medical isotopes.

If Harper was so interested in trying to get the reactor up as quickly as possible, then why did they withdraw legal counsel for CNSC when they needed it most (for legal compliance as mentioned by Ms. Keen to Gary Lunn during their phone call on December 8, 2007). Despite their tiresome use of the excuse that people are dying, nobody died and if they would have not interfered with CNSC and went in with confrontational attitude, perhaps proper amendment could have been quickly made while meeting the legal specification that CNSC is required to uphold. Lots could be accomplished by working together in the background. Instead they have to result to political grandstanding and passing emergency legislation. Harper then still have to take another shot at Liberal. He fondly recollect in his Christmas interview with CBC that Liberal initially oppose. The Liberal did not oppose, they said ok, just as long as we hear from the experts first to be reassured that the reactor is safe which Harper oblige. So on issues which Harper considers that Canadian life were at risk, he surely was too busy worrying about scoring political points. Is this a Prime Minister we want? and he wants us to give him a majority government? If being in minority government, he could rule like a King, I would hate to see what a Harper majority could do.

Liberal MP Alghabra looks a bit shaken and was emotional as he was being interviewed after the committee hearing. He said this is something you see happening on other countries where head of state fires a judicial body but he never thought something like this could happen in Canada.

Well it just did and I think it’s time to put this government into an election. We’ll see how long he can keep going on with his carefully managed deception of public and twisting of words, shifting of blame and constant confrontational and divisive ways of doing things.

During his Christmas interview, when asked to define leadership, he said it is someone who can take responsibility even if it is wrong. I guess with his own definition and his constant blaming of others, we can say Stephen Harper is not a leader.

Other Related articles and sources:

Correspondence between Minister Gary Lunn and CNSC President Linda Keen – CNSC

Auditor General Report on AECL – September 5, 2007

Head of Nuclear Watchdog fired – The Globe and Mail

Minister’s timeline queried – The Star.com

Maybe it’s Lunn who should go – National Post

Tory cabinet tried to order nuclear regulator to bend rules for Chalk River – Canadian Press

Mo-99 supply resource center – SNM

AECL and MDS enter into long-term supply agreement – AECL Feb. 22, 2006

Related blogs:

Meltdown – The Turner Report

The Empire Strikes Back – Pogge

Isotope privatization fiasco triggered “crisis” – The Harper Index

Former AECL Chair Confirms Gary Lunn’s Mismanagement of Isotope Controversy – While the Earth Burns

Lunn sacks Keen – Blast Furnace Canada Blog

Linda Keen Fired: Conservatives Trying to Silence Their Critics with Strong-Arm Tactics -Danielle Takacs

Nuclear meltdown – Canadaka Forum

Why Linda Keen was right… – A BCer in Toronto

[edited: revenue that goes to MDS and added AECL link – January 16, 2007 11:16pm]


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8 Comments »

  1. […] 9:14 pm Tags: AECL, chalk River, CNSC, Linda Keen, MAPLE, Mulroney, reactor, Stephen Harper In my last post, I went through the time line of the medical isotope crisis. I mentioned quickly a possible reason […]

    Pingback by Buck does not stop with AECL « Cyberwanderer’s Blog — January 19, 2008 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  2. […] incidence includes: Labeling Liberal as Taliban sympathizers, Media conspiracy / media bias and CNSC conspiracy. Now today, under intense questioning regarding his senior officials interference on a case in the […]

    Pingback by It’s all Greek for Harper « Cyberwanderer’s Blog — January 31, 2008 @ 1:06 am | Reply

  3. […] was the firing of Linda Keen (another source), the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in January. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is (was?) an independent nuclear safety watchdog. During […]

    Pingback by random thoughts from random places » Blog Archive » Why Harper can’t win — October 8, 2008 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

  4. […] they will be summarily dismiss or harassed until they are forced to resign. Election chief and CNSC head are just few of the more notable […]

    Pingback by Taxpayer’s Bill For Harper’s “Prudent Government” Bigger Cabinet « Cyberwanderer’s Blog — November 2, 2008 @ 4:07 pm | Reply

  5. […] CNSC Linda Keen Firing, Gary Lunn Before the Committee […]

    Pingback by Canada Produces Medical Isotopes, U.S. Companies Profit « Cyberwanderer’s Blog — December 16, 2008 @ 12:40 am | Reply

  6. […] out more detail after past government actions, check out my old blog that discussed in depth the Harper’s CNSC boondangle and AECL’s […]

    Pingback by Is May Lobbying for Areva? « Cyberwanderer’s Blog — May 26, 2009 @ 11:15 pm | Reply

  7. […] that time by a variety of community groups in regulated communities.  More recently, there was the 2006-2008 scandal involving the Parliamentary firing of CNSC chair Linda Keen and the removal of Department of […]

    Pingback by Myth that U mines in Canada are “well regulated” « Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit's Blog — January 25, 2010 @ 2:25 pm | Reply

  8. […] CNSC Linda Keen Firing, Gary Lunn before the committee …Jan 16, 2008 … Linda Keen through the CNSC e-mailed the committee at 10:45 am saying … Most of the revenue from the isotope production would still go to … […]

    Pingback by Isotope keen | Estellasenvy — September 7, 2012 @ 11:22 pm | Reply


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