The Two Issues in the Chalk River Nuclear Safety/Radioisotopes Affair

Stephen Harper is starting to remind me of Larry O’Brien. They both seem to have no concept of the role of government and public policy beyond the Do What I Say I’m the Boss School of Leadership.

There are two issues involved in the Chalk River nuclear safety/radioisotopes affair.

The second issue is whether Parliament should have passed legislation requiring restarting of the reactor. What Parliament essentially said was that the shortage of radioisotopes justified lowering the normal safety standards for the reactor. It is Parliament’s role to balance competing interests. While many of us disagreed with the legislation, it was within Parliaments role.

The first issue is whether the government should have attempted to influence and intimidate Linda Keen and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission into not doing their job and then fire her for doing her job.

The government claims she was fired for lack of leadership. If Linda Keen has demonstrated anything it is leadership. The government may not have like the leadership she provided but it is ludicrous to suggest she did not provide leadership.

It is the role of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to set and enforce safety standards in the nuclear industry. That is what they did in the case of the Chalk River reactor. When Atomic Energy of Canada Limited failed to do required safety upgrades the Commission it did it’s job and ordered the reactor shut down. It is not the role of the Commission to let outside factors or interests influence it’s decisions. Indeed it would be derelict in it’s duty if it let outside interests, or political intimidation, influence it’s decision-making.

If anyone lacks leadership it is Stephen Harper who does not understand the difference between leadership and intimidation.

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