Cyberwanderer’s Blog

August 30, 2010

Harper Contributed to Steep Increase in Unemployment

Filed under: Canada,Politics — cyberwanderer @ 12:13 am
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Harper’s policy have contributed to the steep rise in unemployment numbers. July numbers showed an unexpected loss of 139,000 full time jobs according to Statistics Canada, the department responsible for census and keeping track of vital benchmark information like job numbers. Without them how do we measure our government’s performance. With expected increase in EI claims, Harper then went on to cut the department that is expected to be busy as they process the increased EI claims. Harper cut 1,200 Service Canada jobs leading to possible delay and increased wait times not only for those claiming EI but also retiree waiting for their pensions.

There could have been more jobs created have it not for some of Harper’s policy. Part of Ontario’s stimulus plan was to build a new Nuclear plant to meet its electricity demand once our economy recover. They were set to award it to the Crown corporation AECL, which is also based in Ontario. But Harper’s campaign to sell AECL to private company put that plan on hold. Harper’s staff even went on smear campaign against AECL claiming it is a sinkhole since billions of dollars have been spent throughout AECL’s history. Perhaps Harper needs to be reminded that AECL have half a century of history and was a prominent and independent scientific institution attracting top scientist around the world. NASA have to consult AECL for assistance in figuring out the cause of the space shuttle crash. Research done at AECL goes beyond Nuclear.

While Harper whine about spending billions for scientific research, he so easily spent billions for a weekend of photo ops in Toronto’s Summit. He so readily spent billions on fighter jet that would have limited use against Afghan guerrilla, benefiting only U.S. weapon manufacturer. Meanwhile, job losses mounts as Harper pursue a lobbyist friendly policy of handing over our Crown corporation to either a foreign government owned or subsidized company, or private corporations. If there’s any failure on AECL part, it is due to constant political tinkering with the Crown corporation. Mulroney sell off all profit to be had from medical isotope production to private company MDS Nordion, leaving AECL to produce the isotope for others to profit. The contract is so lopsided you would think the government of that day was working for private company rather than taxpayers, who are the real owner of the Crown corporation. Now Harper is picking up where Mulroney left off by selling the only profitable division of AECL. All this at a time of expected nuclear renaissance when various government are heavily investing in their equivalent nuclear agency. Even Cambodia is considering building a Nuclear Plant.

All this uncertainty created by Harper has resulted in thousands of job losses in Ontario, and even more from lost job opportunities that would have helped our economy. Hydro Quebec recently delayed planned work on its nuclear reactor due to Harper’s attempt to sell AECL. This put a further chill on the job market. An audit is needed to investigate and ensure taxpayer’s are not shortchanged as Harper charge ahead on selling off our nuclear future in a very secretive process. The banker appointed by Harper to oversee AECL’s sell has close connection to French government owned Areva. An independent audit like one from Sheila Fraser might be needed to clear up any possibility of corruption and under the table deals.

A good read is an article from Montreal Gazette: Going the wrong way on isotopes, reactors.

October 19, 2009

AECL Privatization Does Not Add Up

Filed under: Canada,Politics — cyberwanderer @ 8:36 pm
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The government’s argument for privatizing AECL does not add up. They claimed they are trying to save Canada’s nuclear industry but refuse to put in a condition that the buyer, who could be AECL’s competitor, can’t decide to get rid of CANDU after buying it. They claim Canada is not competitive internationally while contracts are being signed in China, who is expected to be one of the world’s largest market for new reactor build. China already uses CANDU technology and was happy with the on time and on budget completion of the projects. This weekend, international news is talking about deal being work out by AECL and India’s 3 utilities. So imagine all this expected influx of profit in the near future from new nuclear plant going to foreign companies or whichever private firms buy AECL. A likely scenario is Areva or its major competitors buy it just to get rid of the competitor.

An AECL scientist said:

“Historically, whenever you sell a technology to a foreign country, you lose it,”

The government want to sell off the only division at AECL that has large potential to see huge profit in the near future (the Nuclear plant division) while retaining the research division. But that’s not the end of it. The research division will be contracted out. Based on past contract related scandal, contracting out the research division open up huge potential for corruption. Haliburton, Sponsorship Scandal, the “billion dollar with nothing to show for it” Ontario’s Health Contract are just few of the latest and most prominent scandal. Contracting out work especially when it involves research just does not make sense unless you are a lobbyist of contracting firm.

AECL would do better if they are left alone without constant political interference and constantly changing executive officials made up of political appointee of which ever political party happens to be ruling at that time. We can have the brightest scientist and engineers but if the upper management who are indebted to politicians, who are in turn indebted to their campaign contributor, is constantly reorganizing and restructuring the company, then it won’t matter. Politicians who constantly sell profitable or soon to be profitable division (like Mulroney selling off medical isotope division profit to Nordion) to private firms, then public funds will just continue to be wasted.

Harper’s government claim AECL need to be commercialized. But with Canada’s energy future at stake, can we just simply dumb down the value of scientific research to how much profit we can make right now? What’s more troubling is there’s enough evidence that the expected and inevitable nuclear renaissance, and the foothold AECL’s CANDU already have in China and India – two potentially biggest market in the near future, are about to provide AECL with influx of rich revenue. But the government is now rushing to privatize them? This same division is also where AECL get most of its profit right now with the continuous contract in refurbishment of Canada’s nuclear plant fleet.

Privatize the revenue generating division and contract out research division? Make sense for private company looking to make profit but does not make sense if you care about Canadian interest and its future international reputation in research and technology. So taxpayer would be left with a totally profitless crown corporation and paying more to contracting firm.

For now, Harper is keeping a tight lid on the privatization plan for AECL.

June 2, 2009

AECL Sell-Off Ripe For Corruption; Emptying Canada’s Coffer

Filed under: Canada,Politics — cyberwanderer @ 11:29 pm
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The proposed sell-off of AECL to foreign firm are ripe for corruption. Whenever there’s foreign multi-national involved, Schreiber type lobbyist is not far behind. The government is also talking about letting contractor’s run the leftover, non-profitable part of AECL. Whenever I hear contractor and Harper / Flaherty,  it reminds me of Haliburton’s bidless contract or Flaherty’s awarding contract without tender.  The taxpayer end up having to pay more. And let’s not forget about the past Liberal’s Sponsorship scandal involving contracted out work that looks more like money laundering taxpayer’s money to private firm. The number of cases of contract that involves handing out exorbitant amount of money for little or no work in return are just so many. In best case scenario, the taxpayer will just get burned by constantly skyrocketing fee like the case with Highway 407 in Toronto.

In other AECL related news, Minister of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt apparently leftover some document labeled secret that mentioned talking points to try to blame Liberal for the isotope crisis. They would call it the “Liberal Mess”. (h/t A BCer in Toronto). Someone need to remind them that the Isotope crisis was created by Mulroney when he sell-off the profit that AECL get from the medical isotopes to private firm. AECL still produces the isotopes and sell it at non-profit price to MDS Nordion which in turns profited from them. So now another Conservative named Harper wants to sell off the only profitable division of AECL, which have been actively building nuclear plant around the world  using Canadian Technology. These countries includes  China, South Korea and Romania, where all projects were completed under or within budget and either on time or ahead of schedule.  But these successes are glossed over by the Harper friendly media who uses the very old reactor that produces medical isotopes to discredit AECL in favor of French company Areva. Some media columnist outrightly defame AECL and call for Ontario’s contract to be awarded to Areva.

So should we trust Flaherty and Harper to handle sell-off of taxpayers asset? Should we trust Harper, who has the same staff as Ontario’s Mike Harris? Including Flaherty who have been known to hide deficit. Something does not smell right when within four months, Flaherty’s prediction of deficit suddenly ballooned by more than 50%.  Now, Economist are warning that Flaherty’s projection are way off. TD pegged the deficit at $162 billion over five years, twice what Flaherty is projecting. Flaherty’s rosy prediction of $700 million windfall by 2013-14 was also disputed. Deficit is expected to be $19.4 billion in that fiscal year. Flaherty was also chided for having no plan to deal with the deficit. No surprise there really, since all Harper and Flaherty knows to do is deflect blame as “Liberal Mess” while doing nothing except selling assets to cover their butt in the short term. It’s the Harris / Flaherty disappearing Ontario’s deficit (and selling government assets) all over again. But this time they have a bigger assets and budget to burn at Federal level.

May 28, 2009

Harper Selling AECL To Foreign Company?

Filed under: Canada,Politics — cyberwanderer @ 7:05 pm
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Came across an interesting news today that the about to be profitable part of AECL will be sold to private firm. French company Areva being a top contender. Coincidentally I just wrote a blog criticizing May for virtually lobbying for Areva and Mulroney’s selling out the profitable medical isotopes business of AECL to private firm which is a major factor for the isotope crisis right now.  What is it with government tendency to sell off an about to be profitable part of government’s business. Petro Canada, Medical Isotopes, and now with Ontario awarding building of nuclear plant to AECL, then Harper will just give away those profit to a foreign firm? The first two (Petro and Isotope) are courtesy of Mulroney.

BTW, the rush to privatize would mean government is expected to lose money since the property value is down right now. The government would allow the foreign firm who buy AECL to dump the Canadian designed nuclear plant currently used in Canada and around the world.

There’s speculation that Flaherty is doing what he did in Ontario. Selling out government asset for short term benefit of covering the deficit.  But Harper have been planning the sell long before the recession. So I don’t think it’s simply selling for the deficit.

The cynical part of me can’t help but think there’s a Schreiber type lobbyist handing out cash to government officials to encourage this sell out.

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