Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gary Lunn's Big Bang Theory

Gary Lunn is not your average Conservative MP. Sure he lies, steals and cheats; is not good at his job and has little interest in what Canadians want. However, he actually has a post-secondary education, unlike many of his colleagues, including Stockwell Day, Jason Kenney and Helena Guergis.

Not that you really need more than a high school diploma to run for the Conservative Party. Parm Gill seems to be doing OK, under the tutelage of his mentor, Jason Kenney, and if they can make any of their attacks on Ruby Dhalla stick, Gill could be sitting in the House after the next election.

But back to Gary Lunn. A man in his 50's, who still thinks he lives in the 50's. He would have been great doing Brylcream commercials, though he seems to have missed the message that a 'little dab'l do 'ya'.

He's had quite a career though. First elected to Parliament in 1997, as a Reform Party MP, then re-elected in 2000 for the Canadian Alliance. A year later he was kicked out of caucus after openly criticizing the leadership of Stockwell Day (maybe he's not as dumb as he looks after all), briefly sitting with the Democratic Representative Caucus, a break-away party under the leadership of Chuck Strahl.

After Day's resignation he was welcomed back and became a member of the Conservatives when the right wing parties united. Like most Reformers, he has pretty narrow minded attitudes on issues like abortion and same sex marriage, but also like most Reformers, is now trying to convince us that he's changed. Just not very convincingly.

But let's recap Mr. Lunn's experiences since his party formed the government. Remember this is the man who when asked what he was going to do about the price of gas: "I don't know.... Nothing. You sound like my wife," he said. "Every time the price goes up, it's my fault. I get home from Ottawa, both vehicles are on fumes...I have to fill them up before I leave Sunday." Huh?

And if you're worried about asbestos, his comments on that should put you at ease:
"Comprehensive reviews of scientific studies over the last 40 years have proven the product (Asbestos) is safe when properly used." Again ... huh?

But gas prices and asbestos are trivial when compared to his bull in a china shop approach to nuclear energy. In December 2006, Lunn was quoted as saying that it was not a question of 'when' not 'if' nuclear would be employed, but that it would "play a very significant role" and that he was "very, very keen." Very, very keen? Well gee whiz beav.... We're talking about nuclear energy here, not the latest Richie Rich comic.

Then without so much as a hello or howdy do, he signed us up for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership: "It is great news for Canada to be part of this partnership," On having Canada join the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) without public debate or a vote in the house of Commons." A little heads up might have been nice, since it means we must commit to storing nuclear waste. Not to worry, he's got that one covered: "There’ll be more specifics on the exact storage, where we put the permanent storage of nuclear waste, but you're going to have to wait." For what. A disaster?

He later told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, when discussing Nuclear powered Tar Sands exploitation, "I think it's also important to state the obvious – nuclear energy has to be considered as an option as we move forward. We're seeing that around the globe. Nuclear energy is free of emissions, it's pollution free. There are obviously issues with the storage of the spent fuel, but the exciting thing is, where the next generation of technologies is going. The Generation Four technology will extract more energy out of the uranium and they'll be able to recycle spent fuel. So there are some exciting gains happening and exciting technology advances being made in the nuclear sector. Again, I think for no other reason, purely an environmental reason, it's something that you have to consider as part of our energy-mix."

He obviously didn't do a lot of research or he would know that there are a lot of drawbacks to Nuclear energy.

I noticed this reappearance of the nuclear industry during the last federal election when every candidate was given a little glossy booklet heralding nuclear power as the best and quickest option for solving the energy crisis.

Gary Lunn, MP in Saanich-Gulf Islands is the Minister for Natural Resources. He is a great supporter of the 'new' nuclear power. I have no doubt that this industry will be pushing its tax-sucking agenda as hard as it can, in the next election and citizens need to be ready to push back.

Replacing CO2 spewing fossil fuels with radiation emitting nuclear power plants is simply replacing one irresponsible technology with another. The poison will have changed and that is all. The great irony here is that there is only enough viable uranium in the world to keep the industry going for 30 to 40 years which is hardly a sustainable answer to our energy crisis! (See Greenpeace Europe’s wonderful website for all the gory details.)

Gary Lunn and his boss, Stephen Harper, want to use nuclear energy to extract oil from the Alberta Tar Sands (it was cute when they changed the name to ‘oil sands’ to make it sound more valuable). So we are to waste billions on power plants to try get oil to fuel more power plants. To do this we need to build multiple oil pipelines across ecologically sensitive areas out to the most precious and delicate coastal environment you can imagine and ship oil down the coast in numbers we’ve never even imagined before.

Remember this?“I can see those tankers sailing down, with Alaskan oil all schlurping ‘round. Now take a sip from Trudeau’s cup and leave our coast all fuddled-duddled up!”

That was Rolf Harris singing Vancouver Town in the ‘70s. We need to say No loud and clear in the next election, in fact we need to say no now because those with money and power are not waiting. They will roll right over us if we let them.

But back to the oil for a minute. Many tankers will dump their load at the Port of Vancouver where it will ooze its way through pipes to refineries in the lower mainland. Burnaby recently suffered an oil spill disaster from just such a pipeline–thousands of litres of oil poured through a neighbourhood and many homes were evacuated.

From the refineries the oil will be transported along the massive road system that has been built up to receive it. Did you think those roads were for Olympic athletes and tourists? Or for the benefit of citizens of Vancouver? Nope. The real reason government is willing to spend these billions in road construction is because they hope to benefit from an oil boom.

As these tankers roll down the roads how many more accidents will there be?

And then there is the nuclear waste. In fact everything about nuclear power is wasteful. The nukes industry is trying to tell us that nuclear power emits none of the greenhouse gases we are so worried about, therefore it’s clean and good and wholesome. Well think again.

First you have to build the plant. Every step of the building process from smelting the steel to transporting the materials will release more and more greenhouse gases. Then you have to provide an endless supply of water and that means more building of pipelines in more factories using more greenhouse gases. Next you have to transport and store the waste and that will further add to the greenhouse gases that the nuclear pocketbookboys refuse to acknowledge. You can’t just use any trucks to transport this stuff, it needs special handling and specially made trucks.

And it needs protection.

When it comes to nuclear power I’m not just a NIMBY (not in my backyard) I’m a NINABY (not in anybody’s backyard). This is a technology we should not resurrect. BC should not be a partner anywhere in the world in a technology that will inevitably have an accident as the result of an earthquake, carelessness, poor engineering or war.

We don’t have the technology to clean up the oil spill in Burnaby today and many of those trying will become seriously ill and die as did those who tried and failed to clean up after the Exxon-Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound (another well hidden piece of information).

The insurance industry refuses to insure nuclear power plants so governments have to do it using your money. We don’t have the knowledge and skill to clean up after a nuclear accident, or do you want to bet your life that we do?

We know what we have to do. We have to clamor for solar power and geo-thermal power. We need to build homes with passive heating as Sweden is doing. We need to learn to live with less and that means smaller houses, fewer cars and fewer international holidays. We need to say no to our culture of excess. We need to heed the triple bottom line.

Most importantly we need to say no to Gary Lunn and all those like him, who can never see past the almighty buck.

It's no wonder Don Martin from the National Post called Gary Lunn the worst cabinet minister ever, even beating out Helena Guergis, who was a close runner-up.

"WORST CABINET MINISTER "A top aide to Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn recently lobbied me to consider her guy as superior Cabinet material instead of listing him as another chronic disappointment. It was slightly possible until Mr. Lunn melted down with the Chalk River nuclear power plant fiasco. Mr. Lunn appears to have known the plant's production of isotopes for the world was at risk from an extended shutdown, yet he neglected to promptly inform the Health Minister. As such, Mr. Lunn rates as the radioactive performer of the year." Don Martin, National Post Published: Monday, December 31, 2007

And more to the Story:

January 8, 2008 - Gary Lunn should resign

January 21, 2008 - "It’s Mr. Lunn who should be fired, not only for the cavalier manner in which he dismissed a valued career public servant, but for being overly partisan – indeed, downright vindictive." Halifax Chronicle, Editorial

October 7, 2008 - Gary Lunn (Saanich-Gulf Islands) skipped out on a local arts event that screened environmental films followed by an open discussion.

Why did it take Harper so long to demote this guy? Lunn even lied about knowing there were problems at Chalk River: "There was nothing that was ever, ever suggested that the production of medical isotopes was possibly in jeopardy by anything that AECL was doing or anything anybody else was doing."Natural Resources Minister, Saanich-Gulf Islands MP, Gary Lunn.

However, a highly placed source close to Atomic Energy told The Globe and Mail that an e-mail was sent to Mr. Lunn before the Dec. 1 weekend underscoring the need for him to turn his attention to the mounting problem. "I sent an e-mail on Nov. 29 or 30 … which said this is serious, we need to get on this," the source said. Mr. Lunn took a break from skiing in British Columbia on Dec. 1 to respond to the e-mail, the source said, adding that Mr. Lunn confirmed he "knew it was a situation he needed to work on."

"I don't know. I didn't see an e-mail," Mr. Lunn said, adding, "But it's not uncommon in this age … my computer, I won't turn it on for three or more days, so you know …" he said, trailing off. "I'm telling you, I don't recall any conversation. In fact, you know … there was no contact … those are the facts," Mr. Lunn said. "Whether he's thinking of something else or a conversation we had another time, I don't know." (He had the email confirmation)

"I don't know when the last precedent for anything like this is ... to have a Prime Minister and a minister go after a senior civil servant (Linda Keen) and regulator personally and question their integrity and competence is not something that happens in our system," said Elly Alboim, a journalism professor at Carleton University. "Can you run a serious country like this?" he said.

"There are sections in the statute already to balance the array of risks and assure the health and safety of all Canadians," Lunn said after firing President Keen and writing a new mandate letter.

More Postings on Gary Lunn:

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