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Isotope crisis sets off political meltdown

The Halifax Chronicle Herald yesterday reported it had come into possession of a misplaced audio recording made in January of Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt (below) -- the minister responsible for the nation's nuclear facilities and radioisotope supply -- calling the then-impending radioisotope shortage a "sexy" political issue and eagerly anticipating the political benefits of solving the crisis by throwing money at it.

Unsurprisingly, if not entirely deservedly, her use of the word "sexy" to describe an issue that pertains to thousands of cancer patients' and other patients' health has been met with pleas for sympathy from weepy patients on the evening news and harsh recriminations by members of the opposition in Ottawa. Never mind that the word "sexy" is used by almost every politician across Canada and in most newsrooms as well, as an indignant Christie Blatchford (is that redundant?) makes clear in The Globe and Mail.

Opposition members predictably stood up in the House of Commons to demand Ms Raitt resign from cabinet, which she in fact offered to do. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, refused to accept her resignation.

And while all this blustering and bickering takes up the attention of the government and the national news media, the radioisotope shortage only continues to get worse as supplies dwindle. Patients' tests have already been delayed because of the lack of isotopes, and the Toronto Star reported that this week the government's isotope plan is beginning to fail -- in part because foreign production cannot seem to fill our demand -- and hospitals will soon have no isotopes left to use in diagnostic imaging exams. [Toronto Star]

When our elected representatives are done sniping at one another as the parties position themselves for a potential federal election this year, will they finally figure out how we are going to get ourselves out of this mess? Our guess: probably not anytime soon. The major barrier is that solving the problem would require some acknowledgment of mistakes that have been made over the past decade or two. But as should have been made clear by now, that kind of intellectual honesty is simply radioactive.

Photo: Lisa Raitt

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3 comments:

  1. sharon11 June, 2009 8:30 AM

    RE: Using Riatt as a "fiat"

    What do you mean by this, Sam?

    paste

    'an indignant Christie Blatchford (is that redundant?)'

    endofpaste

    Are you implying that Christie is not sexy?

    Are you implying that what Christie says is redundant?

    Is this a sexist remark or a "reporting?

    [there is so much said that can be "filtered" wrongly....don't you think?]

    no... I didn't mean you don't "think"... oooops.... I mean you might not "know" how the phrase is....no,no,no .. I didn't mean you do not "know" things..

    .... oh no...

    let's just kiss and make up....."make up"..yes.....make UP

    :)

    Delete
  2. sharon11 June, 2009 9:39 AM

    RE: what's in a word?

    oooops...that title should have read as

    'Raitt as a "fait" ;)'

    Sorry ...do you believe me?

    Delete
  3. Sam Solomon11 June, 2009 9:41 AM

    Let's not get me in trouble with Ms Blatchford here.

    I only meant that indignation is her natural state of being. Nothing more, nothing less. I may be able to write a bit about health policy but I hardly feel qualified to judge my fellow journalists on their sexiness or lack thereof.

    Delete