Thursday, June 11, 2009

Raitt: "if it's just about money, we'll figure it out"

There is, of course, a good deal of snideness being said about Lisa Raitt these days and her political observations, which have become public by what can only be described as bad luck for her and good luck for Stephen Maher, who is in the process of putting together a string of noteworthy stories.

Now she is on the receiving end of a string of snipes. That is politics. There is, however, a policy end to this that is also rather disturbing.

The conversations were made in January, when troubles began to appear at Chalk River. Her take on the crisis is here:
“You know what? Good. Because when we win on this, we get all the credit. I’m ready to roll the dice on this. This is an easy one. You know what solves this problem? Money. And if it’s just about money, we’ll figure it out.”
Today, of course, we've learned from the Prime Minister that, no, money isn't going to fix it (link):
Harper told the media there's no quick fix to the shortage of medical isotopes caused by the shutdown of the Chalk River nuclear reactor and that in time Canada will no longer produce isotopes at all.

"Eventually, we anticipate Canada will be out of the business" of making isotopes, Harper said, adding that it was a difficult decision but the government determined that "we can't spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars and never produce an isotope."

Now, it seems to me safe to assume that it is not Lisa Raitt's fault that medical isotope production will end in Canada. But surely I'm not the only one to be concerned about what these comments reveal about this minister's approach to policy. It's not just that she seems more interested in getting political credit than solving the underlying problem — hey, if she would have been able to fix this, she should have gotten credit! The problem is that she seems to assume that the solution is money. "And if it's just about money, we'll figure it out."

We now learn, however, that it's not just about money. And if the minister had been looking for solutions other than money earlier, the government may have been able to avoid being in the position that it finds itself in now: scrambling to find a way to minimize the number of cancer patients who will die because someone fucked up.