Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So much for blaming those "Liberal appointees" eh?

If Harper has the teeth marks on his ass checked forensically, he'll find they match his own dental work... his own words coming back to bite him. Way to go, Steve.

Update: The Globe article below is good, but the posting by Jim Bobby connects some interesting dots... worth a read. Let's hope we hear more about this...

Ottawa ignored nuclear hiring advice

Former AECL chief was passed over for Alliance fundraiser

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
December 18, 2007 at 2:16 AM EST

OTTAWA — The Conservative government rejected the findings of independent headhunters last year on the hiring of a new chair for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., picking instead a partisan fundraiser who abruptly left last week during the isotope crisis.

Jean-Pierre Soublière, who was the acting chair of AECL in late 2005, said in an interview Monday he was certain he was twice selected by the independent panel to become the permanent chairman of the board.

The first selection process was launched under the Liberal government of Paul Martin, but the nomination did not proceed because of the 2006 election. The incoming Harper government did not like the results of that process and launched a second one, which also recommended Mr. Soublière, an Ottawa consultant who was linked to the Liberal Party of Canada.

But the Tories refused to appoint Mr. Soublière. Instead, they nominated Michael Burns, a former executive vice-president at B.C. Gas and onetime fundraiser for the Canadian Alliance, a precursor to the Conservative Party.

Health Minister Tony Clement says ‘there has to be new management, there has to be better management’ at AECL. (Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press)

Mr. Burns left his position late Friday, and Health Minister Tony Clement said in a television interview Monday the departure was related to the shutdown of an AECL reactor that created a worldwide shortage of medical isotopes.

“I think it's fair to say it confirmed our impression that there has to be new management, there has to be better management, at AECL,” Mr. Clement said.

Mr. Burns did not return telephone calls Monday.

In an interview, Mr. Soublière said it is his understanding he was selected to be the AECL chair, but that he did not get the offer. He confirmed he was involved with the Liberal Party and the onetime leadership race of his friend John Manley, while adding he also donated in the past to the Conservatives.

“The government had the right to do what it did, and it did it. ... I don't take it personally,” he said.

Mr. Soublière refused to comment on last month's shutdown of the AECL reactor in Chalk River, Ont., prompted by a decision from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that feared the lack of backup power on a crucial pump.

Last week, the Harper government blamed the crisis on Linda Keen, the career civil servant who heads the CNSC, alleging she was a Liberal appointee who was putting lives in danger by not permitting the restart of the reactor.

A nuclear industry insider said Monday the government was faced with a difficult dilemma when the prolonged shutdown led to a shortage of medical isotopes, but at no time did he sense Ms. Keen took a partisan approach.

“Ms. Keen was doing only strictly what she had to do under the law,” the insider said. “She applied the law to the letter. She should not be flexible in that job. I was surprised that they attacked her personally.”

The government responded to the crisis last week by adopting emergency legislation that forced AECL to start up its reactor.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Mr. Clement said valuable lessons were learned during the crisis.

“One of the first things that we did in conjunction with Gary Lunn, the Natural Resources Minister, was to make it clear to both the regulator and the AECL that if there was ever in the future an unscheduled event which was longer than the usual shutdown, we would have to be notified well in advance,” Mr. Clement said.

But the Liberals attacked Ottawa's handling of the matter, saying the Harper government was aware for months of the need for repairs at Chalk River.

Liberal MP Omar Alghabra said the government earmarked $71-million in October for upgrades at Chalk River, while Mr. Lunn has said he learned of the shutdown only earlier this month. “For him to say he first became aware of problems at the facility on Dec. 3 is ridiculous,” Mr. Alghabra said in an statement Monday.

Efforts to reach AECL board members Monday were unsuccessful: Quebec City lawyer Marcel Aubut and Calgary governance consultant Stella Thompson did not return calls; an assistant said outgoing Concordia University president Claude Lajeunesse could not be reached; Brookfield Asset Management chair Robert Harding was out of the country until the New Year, according to an assistant, and University of New Brunswick professor Barbara Trenholm, who is on leave, did not respond to an e-mail.

With files from Gloria Galloway and Campbell Clark


Monday, December 17, 2007

Jean et moi

This was from Jean Chretiens stop at A Different Drummer books in Burlington, before Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

This is where you hope someone is paying attention...

... and steps in to correct an absurd situation such as this:
Provincial rules end family business

After 46 years, Karl's smoked meat shop is closing because required renovations would cost $200,000

Dec 08, 2007 04:30 AM Emily Mathieu Staff Reporter

For the owners of Karl's Butcher & Grocery the product that was key to their
success could be the reason they're closing their doors.
"It's unbelievable what they want me to do," Karl Jarzabek said of provincial regulations he says he can't afford to meet.

Jarzabek, 86, is the owner of Karl's, on Roncesvalles Ave. near Queen St. W. While the family-run shop sells raw cuts of meat, it is most famous for smoked sausages, bacon and hams. Karl's produces about 1,000 kilograms of smoked products a week, all made from fresh meat from local Ontario farms. "We don't use any chemicals. It's all natural," he said.

After almost 46 years, Jarzabek will close his doors forever in two weeks because he can't afford an estimated $200,000 in renovations to make the store legal under the province's Food Safety and Quality Act., which came into force in 2005.

"The meat industry actually benefits from stronger standards" because it increases consumer confidence, said Brent Ross, a spokesperson for the Ministry of griculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Because Karl's smokes meat and makes sausages it is defined as a "free-standing meat plant," he said. Karl's shop is one of 150 smaller meat usinesses facing similar reviews, starting on Oct. 1.

"The future of small business looks very limited under this regime," said his son Walter, 52. Among the required changes, Karl's would need separate rooms for raw and cooked meat, separate entrances for employees, a change room, a curing room, a spice room and a separate lunchroom. All of the walls have to be covered in a white Plexiglas film and the floor space has to be refinished with a non-absorbing tile. All packaging must have nutritional labels.

The family said the shop has passed every inspection by Toronto Public Health since 2001.

"It does not mean that they are failing a health inspection, just that they need to meet different criteria," said Jim Chan, manager of the food safety program with Toronto Public Health.

For the neighbourhood, losing Karl's represents a loss of local culture. "All these little shops on Roncesvalles, I don't know what is going to replace them," said Martha Milczynski, 49. "Are we all supposed to shop at factory stores and big-box stores?"

The family accepts that in some ways the renovations would improve the business. But Karl, who started the business in 1962, said their reputation and product has been enough to maintain a steady business. "I've had the same customers the whole time I'm here."


Sunday, December 02, 2007

How do you shoot someone in the back of the head while they are choking you from behind?

Just wondering.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Dion's first year

Susan Delacourt has an interesting piece in the Toronto Star today on Dion's first year as leader of the Liberal party, although I disagree with the perspective.

This has most certainly been a year of key learnings for Mr. Dion, or at least it should have been. It will be the next year that will show how much he has been able to pick up since his feet hit the ground.

Anyone who expected that by winning the leadership of the Liberal party he would automatically come out of the gate with all the right moves and answers is probably a touch naive.

Look at the leader of any party, and they've certainly had some period of adjustment where they've picked up what they needed to know be capable in the position.

Is he learning? We would hope so (maybe the key take away here was that sometimes the government should actually listen to those bureaucrats... they are there for a reason).

From the sounds of it in , Stephane Dion is thinking along these lines:

Dion acknowledged that Opposition leaders are rarely popular, and said he knows his battle to become prime minister won't be an easy one.

"The ones who succeed -- and I intend to be one of them -- have never had a free lunch, never."

He pointed out that Harper was the least popular choice among Canadians as PM before he won in 2006.

"If you think it will be easy, you will be discouraged. I knew it would not be easy. But I know that the ones who succeeded, it's because they had the conviction and they were focusing on the final result and it's what I will do, it's what I'm doing."

Probably one of the toughest things Stephane will have to do is deal with the mountain of advice that is thrust at him; it will certainly take conviction and focus to be able to pick through what can be used and what can be ignored.

As long as Mr. Dion knows that it won't be easy and is willing to learn, then I think he'll be well positioned for the future.

Afterthough: I should mention that I still maintain there are some people who Dion should be seeking advice from.

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