Thursday, June 11, 2009

Harper's Misuse of Tapes is Coming Back to Bite Him

I had my rant last night over the 'heartfelt' apology of Lisa Raitt, where I wondered what exactly she was apologizing for?

Her incompetence? Her lack of integrity? Her insensitivity?

In the light of day, I kind of feel sorry for her. I mean many of us have said things that could prove to be embarrassing if taped.

But she is an elected official and cabinet minister of an important portfolio during a national crisis. We need to know if she's up for the job, and it's pretty clear that she's not.

I suspect that over the next week or so we'll learn a lot more of how she privately feels about her colleagues and the Party. Apparently there is even a criticism of Stephen Harper. Yikes!

Sadly though I think the sensationalism of this five hour tape is clouding the real issue.

The isotope shortage. While Raitt says she looks forward to getting credit for fixing the crisis, it's pretty clear that she has no idea how to do that.

Yesterday, Ms. Raitt "told the House of Commons that international producers of medical isotopes in the Netherlands, Australia and South Africa will be able to increase their supply to compensate for the amount no longer coming out of Chalk River.

However, this is not true:

"... the Liberals have pointed out that extended shutdowns are planned for the Dutch reactor, the Australian reactor is not yet in operation and was not built to supply the international market, and the South African reactor is not large enough to make up the shortfall."

That's what we need to focus on here. She clearly does not have a handle on the situation or she would know that. Also she has announced that we will be selling Chalk River and that the buyer will not have to commit to producing isotopes.

Now I know all opposition parties are capitalizing on the scandal, but let's not forget the recent Ruby Dhallah affair, which had nothing at all to do with how she did her job. However, she resigned for the good of her Party until it got sorted out.

I really liked Michael Ignatieff's response to Harper's accusation that he was using this as political opportunism. "The cheapest politics there is, is to call a crisis a career opportunity". Zing.

But this does raise another question. Harper's mining of old tapes of Michael Ignatieff to use in attack ads. Not long ago he rose in the House of Commons, responding to calls for Flaherty's resignation, saying "I'd love to fire the leader of the opposition but with the tapes I've got on him..."

If I was a religious person, I'd say that God was punishing him for un-Christian behaviour .... I'm just saying.

However, it should make him realize that exploiting tapes, or writings, is bad politics. When his own 1997 speech to an American neo-conservative think-tank surfaced, he defended his words by saying that they were given when he was a private citizen. Yet the tape he is currently using of Mr. Ignatieff is from 1994 when he was a journalist, and a PRIVATE CITIZEN!

Two sets of rules obviously.

For Lisa Raitt, she has to remember that perception is everything. Many of us hate the whole 'tape' thing, but she's become Canada's Paris Hilton, and I doubt that the National Enquirer style delving into her private conversation will end anytime soon.

Harper has kept his caucus muzzled for so long, that it's news when we hear one of them say something that wasn't written and edited in advance.

Hopefully, it will die down soon so we can get back to the things that really matter. Like how much hair gel does Gary Lunn really use and where did Rhona Ambrose get those shoes ....

1 comment:

  1. Well written post. There is too much "gotcha" in politics on all sides. The minister is paying the price for promoting a staff member beyond her level of competence and having a loose lip. I wonder who was driving the vehicle in which the recording was made?