Quite the day, yesterday, with the drama around the attempt to suppress the Lisa Raitt recordings, the drama as we waited for the court ruling, and then the revelation in the evening of just what the tapes contained.
I've on a brief visit to Ottawa, and the town was abuzz all day with the story. I attended question period in person yesterday for the first time since Jean Chretien was in the PMO. Unfortunately Stephen Harper wasn't in the house, but it was still a pretty raucous session. There was one or two questions from the Liberals on the tape injunction hearings, but they stuck mainly to the larger isotope issue, hammering Raitt relentlessly. Her friend the health minister did step in to take a few questions, though. That's nice of her. The NDP did press a little harder on the injunction, but I think the opposition was mainly waiting for the tapes to be out before hitting harder.
So, today's session of QP should be interesting. Watching QP in person, besides the heckling (which, sadly, they don't let visitors engage in) I was most interested in watching Michael Ignatieff. While most people of all parties generally read, blackberried or generally didn't pay attention, Ignatieff seemed to listen intently to every opposition answer (not just those to his questions) and would wave his caucus to shush when they got too loud with the catcalls. It's both nice, and a bit cute, that he still shows such interest in their non-answers.
I got news if the judgment while sitting on a patio on Sparks enjoying a beverage with some friends, who were quite jubilant, if not overly surprised, at the result. But when Stephen Maher's story showed-up on my BlackBerry, 'ho boy, I have to say we agreed that, despite a few grammar faux pas, it was the greatest story ever written.
I had some sympathy for Jasmine MacDonnell before, as a staffer unfairly forced to take the fall for her minister. The fact she left her recorder with a journalist for five months though, after leaving it in a bathroom at the press gallery, seems to speak to a pattern of leaving sensitive materials in public places that isn't a positive. I mean, she had five months to pick the dammed thing up!
But the how and the why of the recording is really secondary to the content of the tape, to what MacDonnell and Raitt are heard to say, and I haven't heard a denial of the content yet. No claims of editing, or demands to bring in American tape experts. No Gurmant Grewal sightings.
What she said about the health minister is certainly embarrassing, and could lead to some uncomfortable exchanges at the cabinet table. These two ministers need to work in tandem not just to solve this isotope crisis, but to restore public confidence in the health system. Her comments make that task more onerous.
But more damming are Raitt's comments about the crisis itself, and how it's an opportunity for her to make her political star and how she plans to take all the credit for fixing it, because this isn't a moral issue, it's just about money:
This is the really damning passage to me:
Ms. MacDonnell said the isotope issue is hard to control, "because it's confusing to a lot of people.""But it's sexy," says Ms. Raitt. "Radioactive leaks. Cancer."I'm sure the people who are suffering from cancer, who are waiting for treatment and are facing delays because of this isotope shortage will be heartened to hear their cancer is sexy. That's it's not a moral issue, but it's just about money. Cancer is sexy? I'm sure cancer patients will be happy to hear that, and that this crisis impacting their health is an opportunity to boost Raitt's political fortunes that she's willing to "roll the dice" on. Roll the dice on sexy radioactive leaks? What the hell is wrong with this woman?
"Nuclear contamination," says Ms. MacDonnell.
"But it's only about money," say Ms. Raitt.
All the laughable Conservative conspiracy theories I hear floating around don't change the fact that RAITT SAID THESE THINGS, and that they're abhorrent. How anyone can defend such insensitive and callous comments is beyond me.
And if Stephen Harper stands by her, as in the early going he appears to be, it will speak volumes to his judgment and competence. I promise you, whether the election is next month or next year, no one will forget these comments.
I'm sorry Lisa, but cancer is not the new sexy. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers