Lisa Raitt
3 min

The predictable defence

Protesters singing and dancing to eerily catchy jingles about crime and deposing the President of Colombia gathered outside the Centre Block, while the Prime Minister was entertaining said President, and discussing free trade between our two countries.

After her tearful apology in the very early afternoon about offence caused by characterising a medical isotope crisis as “sexy,” Lisa Raitt was back in the hot seat as word came down from the medical establishment that we would largely deplete our stockpiles of said isotopes within 48 hours. Armed with the depositions of the nuclear medicine community at the Commons Natural Resources committee the day before, the opposition launched into the government about the dire situation the country faced.

Raitt, however, did not buckle. She calmly assured the House that our hospitals would be receiving at least fifty percent of the orders next week thanks to the reactor in the Netherlands, and Leona Aglukkaq said that the medical community was triaging cases so that those who needed the isotopes most – like paediatric cancer patients – would get them first. Raitt also was trying to assure the House of the leadership position Canada was taking, and hey, we’re even hosting a conference in Toronto about the isotope situation next week. She did not, however, answer David McGuinty’s calls across the aisle when he asked where she was at the last conference on the subject in January.

Raitt got most defensive, however, when it was suggested that the crisis was in fact predictable, and she immediately went to that place that defensive Conservatives immediately go to – that it’s really all the Liberals’ fault. She said that first they starved Chalk River of funds, and that the problem with the MAPLE reactors was apparent as early as 2003, when Ralph Goodale was the minister. Funny, though – I doubt there is a company on this Earth that would admit that their design was hopelessly flawed and that it couldn’t be fixed without a little more time and money, and gee, her own party didn’t then cancel the apparent money sinkhole until well into their mandate, after the first Chalk River crisis. In other words, her reaction feels a little hollow.

But as the leaked tape of Raitt’s is apparently the gift that keeps on giving, there were fresh allegations that she slagged off the Environment Minister for pandering to the tar sands, which Jim Prentice denied in the House. However, the reports out late in the day suggest that money for her department’s wind power project was redirected to the tar sands, and that when it was leaked to that effect, she feared that she would be blamed for it.

Prentice, by the way, announced Canada’s carbon market – which, of course, won’t really come into effect until 2011, nor will anyone’s offsets count before that point either.

As for the isotopes, it looks like Harper has said that Canada will soon be getting out of that game altogether, which I’m sure we’ll really be hearing about in Question Period today.

Sartorially snaps go out to Maxime Bernier for his rather 50s-ish cut suit, which had a bit of a Mad Men feel to it. The style citation goes out to Helena Guergis for the white jacket she wore, which looked like a big, boxy trench coat. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a very dark grey suit with a coral pink top peeking out from the jacket, with light grey shoes – nothing offensive, but remember these days tend to be in the minority.

Elsewhere, Bob Rae was turned away from Sri Lanka, the officials there saying his visit was “not suitable.” Rae says the Sri Lankan government is afraid of dialogue, and will have more to say upon his return to Canada.

Also, for those of you interested, Maclean’s Mitchel Raphael has photosplenty, in fact – from the big EGALE gala, including some snaps of Scott Brison and his impossibly cute husband, Mario Silva, Senator Nancy Ruth, and Belinda Stronach (with hot underwear models).

Up today: The government is releasing it’s next “report card,” which I’m sure will be full of sunshine, lollipops and maybe even a few unicorns. Plus, they’re unveiling it in a huge show in Cambridge, where Senator Mike Duffy will even stage an interview with Harper about it. Because it’s all about style, not substance. Also, it’s the NDP’s opposition day, and it looks like their motion revolves around “retirement income security,” so nothing they’re going to bring the government down over.