What the heck is going on? Ontario’s economy under the Liberal Dalton McGuinty government is slipping and sliding past have-not status to don’t-have-a-hope status. Former Liberal federal natural resources minister Ralph Goodale and his Liberal predecessors so neglected the Chalk River reactor it is now near-death. And instead of being in Ottawa while parliament is in session, Bob Rae, the foreign affairs critic for the Liberal Party, is off trying unsuccessfully to involve himself in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.
Over a year ago, an analysis from leading Bay Street economist Dale Orr said Ontarians’ standard of living had plummeted—from a peak of 15 per cent above the Canadian average in the mid-1980s to just more than 5 per cent. Accompanying the analysis was a warning of further erosion by 2010. And folks, that was before our current recession even got started.
Ontario was once the Canada’s economic engine; now it’s in virtual free-fall. While former have-not provinces such as Saskatchewan report surpluses for the past fiscal year, Ontario bleeds red ink—a cumulative two-year deficit of $18-billion plus and rising. The Liberals are asleep at the switch.
Ottawa Tories are saying that Ralph Goodale knew about the Chalk River reactor’s problems in 2003, and are alleging that the minister knew that two replacement projects were in deep trouble. Totally disgraceful, but we knew the Liberals could not be counted on. For goodness sake, Grit governments lurched from scandal to boondoggle and back again—that’s why the Canadian people tossed out the rascals.
It’s more than a bit rich to hear Michael Ignatieff and his gang braying about Tory ineptitude—his lot didn’t do any better when they were running the place.
But so what? That is all in the past, and now we need PM Stephen Harper and his team to fix the problem. Problems at Chalk River occurred under a previous Tory cabinet minister, and we were told then the place was in a mess; a senior administrator was fired. This is the third shutdown in 18 months, and some have said the damage is so extensive it might never come back online.
The reactor does important work. It produces more than a third of the world’s supply of medical isotopes. The radioactive particles are used in scans to detect cancer and heart ailments. The isotopes produced by the reactor help about 20 million people in 80 countries around the world every year. This is important stuff.
Why didn’t Stephen Harper insist that his ministers put contingency plans in place to ensure uninterrupted supply? He’s had years to do this. Instead, hospitals across Canada and the United States are now struggling to find alternative supplies for patients as scans are cancelled and less efficient diagnostic tools are used. Our international reputation is threatened.
Sound management could have averted this fiasco.
And, as to Bob Rae: what in the world is he doing jetting off while Parliament is in session to far away lands in which Canada does not have a strategic interest. He should be in the House of Commons representing his constituents. He can go on sexy trips when the House takes its summer break. Who pays for these needless trips anyway?
Since we seem to be importing everything from China these days, perhaps we should import politicians who can keep Ontario and Canada up and running. I bet we could get them for a fraction of what we are paying our guys.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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