Three of a kind

As reported by the CBC’s Alison Crawford, the former chair of the RCMP Public Complaints Commission, the former Military Police Complaints Commissioner and the former head of the Nuclear Safety Commission will speak at a Liberal-organized forum on governance next week.

Kennedy had wanted to see through expected legislation on providing civilian oversight for the RCMP.  His reports included blunt criticism about how Mounties take notes, handle Tasers, investigate themselves, etc. And in the last days of his tenure, Kennedy lashed out at RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, accusing him of trying to delay the publication of several of his reports.

The government also refused to renew Tinsley’s appointment, even though he wanted to continue his work on the Afghan detainee issue. And Keen, who was fired while serving her second term as head of the CNSC, accused the natural resources minister of ignoring her advice to close the Chalk River nuclear facility.




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Three of a kind

  1. Keen got fired for not casting a vote she didn't even have.

  2. Imagine that…..three former Liberal lackies fired/let go by Conservatives….speaking at a Liberal Forum designed to attack Conservatives.

    I wonder what they'll talk about?

    • Kennedy was appointed by Van Loan this term.

      Tinsley's record and service including 28 years in the armed services is impecable and he was a good non-partisan appointment.

      Keen had the misfortune of having to enforce the nuclear safety rules and being fired for thinking safety was more important than politics.

      And there could have been so many more.

      But this is the tactics and mindset of the Conservatives. If you hold a contrary view to Harper, you must be a Liberal lackey. You are either with them or against them.

      • hard to argue with that

      • I'm glad you're above sterotyping the other side.

    • "I wonder what they will talk about?"

      Maybe they will suggest that the government get around to appointing some Conservative "lackies" so the commissions can at least get on with doing their jobs? Or will Harper be able to handle that much over sight of his tremendousness?

    • Christ, weren't they only doing their job?

      I distinctly remember Harper telling us not to fear a Conservative majority, as the eeeevil Libbberil Senate, the eeeevil Libbberil courts, and the the eeeevil Libbberil "crats" would keep him in check.

      • But he didn't promise it would stay that way, did he?

      • But he doesn’t have a majority, so the checks don’t have to kick in yet.

  3. Our supposed non-partisan bureaucrats in action!

    • A strong independent civil service is a critical part of good governance and accountability. A systematic and sustained attack on the civil service is dangerous.

      They have been invited, as have many non-Liberals/non-partisans.

      Why don't you judge them for what they say next week instead of what you speculate?

  4. Having been fired for doing their jobs, they're private citizens now. They're free to participate in partisan activities and I suspect they'll have a powerful message about accountability and good governance.

  5. And Keen, who was fired while serving her second term as head of the CNSC, accused the natural resources minister of ignoring her advice to close the Chalk River nuclear facility.

    First off, she was demoted from Chair to Commissioner. Then she quit of her own accord after all of her benefits had run out on "principle". Then she filed a lawsuit which she lost.

    And furthermore, it was not the natural resources minister who ignored her advice to "close the Chalk River nuclear facility" it was an emergency session of parilament , lead by the questioning of Michael Ignatrieff for the official opposition that unanimously voted to restart the already shut down facility (for regularly scheduled maintenance) after one of two supplementary emergency backup power supplies were installed, based upon testimony and advice from engineering experts (btw Linda Keen is a certified agrologist).

    Talk about spin, or bad reporting!

    • It only went to Parliament because the minister ignored her advice. And she was fired. She did not lose her lawsuit because she wasn't fired; she lost her lawsuit because she holds her position "at the pleasure of the Minister" and so no damages can be assessed for her termination.

      • The Chair of the CNSC does not advise the Minister. Her mandate was to apply the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. The disagreement arose because she interpreted the Act differently than others (ultimately Parliament), and had, in effect, drawn a line in the sand -she met her Waterloo, as it turned out.

        • Not quite.

          Her mandate was to apply the NSCA. It is not a matter of a difference of interpretation: her mandate was to apply the safety protocols of the safety directions and guidelines of the engineers who designed it. She did this and directed AECL to shut down the plant. Raitt/Harper ignored her advice/direction or overruled her and went to Parliament.

          That is all fine. Keen did her job which was to apply the safety protocols. Parliament did it's job which was to assess whether there were higher priorities, in this case the delivery of isotopes, a choice of priorities she wasn't allowed to consider.

          All that is fine.

          Until they fired her for doing her job.

          • Do you and Ted (or is that also you) get your version of history from Mr. Peabody and Sherman?

            whatever. I've written enough on this topic. Let her preach to the converted.

  6. While I completely agree with your second paragraph, and we should hold all parties to account for it, the fact remains that Keen is evidence that speaking truth to power in this government is a sure way to damage your career.

  7. "But this is the tactics and mindset of the Conservatives."

    Actually, I think this is the tactics and mindset of conservatives. It's a Nixonian view of the world and it's the prevailing worldview south of the border amongst the right wing.

    • I'm sure the irony of saying conservatives paint everyone as friend or foe,
      and then proceeding to paint all conservatives with the broadest possible brush,
      escapes you.

      • I think if you followed Republican party politics, Tea Baggers and rightwing blogs the way I do, you'd understand.

        Put it another way – can you demonstrate conservatives working constructively with their opposition north or south of the border?

        • Are you equating me (a Canadian conservative) with some sort of Glen Beck loving, tea-bagger?

          I can't imagine why that would bother me.

          I see you don't think the Canadian Govt. did anything constructive last year.
          I disagree.

          • TJ does that all the time. He thinks Canadian conservatives are the exact same thing as Republican teabaggers. It's probably best not to waste time by arguing with him… he's one of those guys who hates conservatives (big or small 'c') with every fibre of his being.

          • I don't hate anybody, but I have little patience for people who spout off without knowing what they're talking about, CR. Too bad that has us crossing paths on a regular basis.

          • Please. Don't make me laugh.

          • I never said Harper didn't accomplish anything, I said he has a record of not working constructively with the opposition. And you don't have an example of conservatives working constructively with non-conservatives.

            For example, prior to the 2008 election, Stephen Harper declared every damn little housekeeping bill to be a confidence motion specifically to force the Liberals to abstain over and over again. That's strikingly similar to the Republican tactic through the Bush years of deliberately making every bill so unappealing to Democrats as to force them to vote against everything and prevent any cooperation.

            That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. And this Nixonian worldview is widespread among self-declared conservatives I see every day.

            Nevertheless, your point is well-taken – I doubt you're a Tea Bagger. So is the term "conservative" becoming useless then? What does it even mean?

          • Harper worked with Layton on extra E.I benefits for his supporters.
            (It's constructive in the fact that it avoided an ill-timed election)

            There was also the Quebec within a united Canada thing (Iggys Idea), the apology for the residential schools (Laytons baby), and you'd figure appointing Gary Doer as U.S ambassador would count.

            Only someone looking to demonize the man would say that Harper is uncompromising.
            He has been pragmatic, and flexible when the situation has required it.

            It takes two (at least) to work constructively together.

            The Bush years I remember had Democrats bending over and supporting everything.
            (with the exception of social security reform). Are you sure you follow U.S politics closely?

            What that has to do with Nixon, I'm not sure.
            (Nixon was a fairly progressive Republican when it came to domestic policy.
            See his crushing victory in 72.
            That doesn't mean he wasn't a scumball too)

            If you take one thing away I hope it is this:

            The U.S and Canada are two different Countries, with two different political spectrums, and the govt. plays a different role in each.

            Try and define what "socialist", or "liberal" means, and you'll find that their definitions can also be mallable, depending on the context, and who uses them.

            If in the future you wish to say "all conservatives are this", or "they all think that",
            then you have become what you were being critical of…

            Someone who has an "us or them" mindset.
            I was calling you out for calling the kettle black.

            I truly hope this has been helpful to you in some way.

    • There's a lot of difference among conservatives. Neocons (eg, Harper, Reagan, Thatcher, Pinochet) are a little like Big Brother lite, while libertarians (eg, Manning, Wild Rose, teabaggers) are really really afraid of Big Brother. Then there's Canadian Prog-Con low-carb Toryism (Oddly enough, Paul Martin comes to mind as the best example, even if he pretended to be a Liberal.) Once they start realizing this, the right-wing dynamic gets interesting. See current Alberta politics.

      And yes, I purposely compared Harper to Pinochet. It's hyperbole. I don't really think Harper is a genocidal maniac. And Pinochet really was a dictator.

  8. She was rendered ineffective once parliament overruled her. It is the ULTIMATE vote of non confidence. She still had the ability to influence the CNSC as a sitting Commissioner, but could not, in reality, carry on as Chair.

    • That is just simply wrong. Keen's position was that the Nuclear Safety and Control Act did not permit the Commission the latitude to consider any issue other than nuclear safety. This was intentional in the construction and interpretation of the Act, since shutting down a nuclear reactor can cost millions of dollars and could easily lead to power shortages for the public. She correctly pointed out that the Minister could not just issue an email directing her to make a decision well beyond her mandate.

      Ultimately, through Parliament a proper directive to the Commision was provided through the Directive to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commision Regarding the Health of Canadians.

      http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/SOR-2007-282/page-1

      This permanently changed and broadened the mandate of the Commision and required it to balance nuclear safety versus public safety associated with radioactive isotope production. In essence, Parliament did exactly what Keen wanted, and there is really no justification for assuming that she did not have the confidence of Parliament. It is clear she did not have the confidence of the Minister or the Government.

      • I read the amendment differently than you do. They were removing the likelihood that persons like Linda Keen would misread the intent of the Act.

        • Bollocks.

          In court it proves that until it was issued the interpretion didn't exist.

          • As I recall Geiseric (see below in reply to LKO) Linda keen interpreted the Act one way, the lawyers at Justice interpreted it broader. Now, there are two ways to resolve this – go to court and have the judge rule on the interpretation of the Act; or remove the ambiguity completely (for the non-lawyer, non-engineer Keen) by issuing an Order of the Governor General in Council – which is a lot easier, timely and less costly.

          • So you're saying Keen got fired for not following an unclear direction.

            Then call it what you will just don't call it justice.

          • This is, of course, leaving aside the simple truth Keen had no authority to do what Clement was demanding anyways.

          • To be fair to Dot, I have colleagues who back up the toxic environment between Keen and AECL. Also there is a legitimate argument to be made that the safety standard she was imposing was over the top. As a result, there were potentially grounds for declaring her incompetent and removing her from the chair. Indeed this may have been the wording of the actual order to do so.

            However, politically it is clear that the Conservatives wanted to be able to issue an order to an "arms-length" agency charged with safety and Keen was quite correct in resisting this. As to whether the original act charged the Commission with considering public safety as Dot presumes that it did, I think that is also clear.

            The Commission did not have the expertise either sitting on it, or at its disposal to make a finding of the necessity of specific isotopes and the impact of reduced supplies. (They have expertise among their 600 employes about safely making isotopes but that is a different issue.) To consider the impact of reduced supply on the public they would have operated on hearsay. (No doubt largely drawn from this blog) Hopefully they will have such resources provided now that they have an expanded mandate, but given that such expertise would be expensive I doubt it.

            In the end, it was no doubt necessary and probably even a good thing that Keen was removed. However, the Conservatives did so by trampling over proper process and to my mind have left a mess behind with a poorly thought out Nuclear Safety Act.

          • It wasn't her safety standard it was the commission's. She couldn't wave her hand and change the standard. It was beyond her authority. Best she could do would have been to schedule a meeting to change it. After that there was nothing for it but to order donuts and hope everyone else tied so she'd have a vote.

          • Say, what's your background to hold such definitive views? I know Stuart has worked at Bruce nuclear. What's your area of expertise?

          • I'm an asshole.

  9. Dot, do you think that Linda Keen's Jan. '08 demotion as commission president was justified? Also, do you think that Linda Keen's stance has been validated by subsequent events, such as the permanent shutdown of Chalk River?

    • Having appeared before regulatory agencies as an intervenor, and have witnessed the dynamic between regulated and regulator, yes, it was a toxic environment – and both houses needed to be swept clean. Sometimes the baby does get thrown out with the bathwater. She took her stand with a misunderstanding of under what circumstances she was appointed, later cleared up by the court.

      Keen's "facts" (the basis upon which she based her decision – assessment of risk levels) has since been proven to have been wrong.

      And no, the subsequent shutting down of Chalk River is a separate issue – a corrosion problem. As I have indicated elsewhere in an analogy, Keen's issue was similar to insisting on retrofitting a '55 Chevy with passenger side air bags, while the driver's had been available and installed, and insisting that this special order part be installed before issuing the driver's license (without considering that this vehicle is the only one available to delivering medicine to remote communities). The susbsequent shut down would be equivalent to having the transmission blow because it had a lot of miles on it, and had been run hard because the road it travelled on was gravel and full of potholes.

      • Thanks for your insider perspective, Dot!

        • Easier than splitting atoms. :)

      • I would say that your analogy would be more accurate if it pointed out that Keen's mandate in law was only to consider the existence of airbags when deciding whether or not to issue a license, and nothing else.

        Parliament didn't so much "overrule" Keen as they directed her to do something that she was not empowered by statute to do. As was pointed out at the time, the Nuclear Safety Commissioner is charged with deciding whether or not to allow a nuclear reactor to run based on the safety of the reactor. Period. She had no legal mandate to balance the safety of the reactor against any other issue (such as the availability of medical isotopes). Keen herself pointed out that if Parliament wanted the isotope issue to overrule the safety issue they would have to vote to do that themselves, as she wasn't prepared to exceed her statutory mandate just because a Minister told her to. Only Parliament had the power to instruct the Commissioner to go beyond the mandate established for her in law, and that's what they did.

        • That was Keen's position at the time (in the absence of legal advice, I believe). It seems to me that the lawyers at the Justice dept gave their interpretation that was different. I'd have to check hansard to be sure (but I won't at this point).

          • Well, at the very least I believe that Keen was justifiably and appropriately attempting to act within her mandate, and I believe that she legitimately believed that a Minister of the Crown had asked her to exceed her statutory authority on no greater authority than an order from the Minister.

            As for the Justice Department lawyers, I don't give them too much credit for appropriately interpreting Canadian law ever since I watched one of them argue in public, essentially, that in Canada Parliament is not supreme. Even if Keen said X and a lawyer said Y I wouldn't assume that the lawyer is correct. I've watched our current government pass legislation that was laughably moot and meaningless, and there were surely at least one or two lawyers on the government side who could have said "this legislation is moot, and laughably meaningless" but apparently, no one did.

          • Yes, but your first paragraph could be explained by her incompetence.

            Well, the fact that the interpretation of the Act can be narrowed by an Order of the Governor General in Council (as opposed to an ammendment or complete revision of the Act that would need to pass through parliament, committe, senate etc) suggests to me that they were not materially altering the Act to begin with. But people familiar with parliamentary procedure may have a differing view of this.

          • I think, perhaps, that whether they've materially altered the Act or not is moot, as they passed a directive instructing the Commission to do X. I don't think the Directive "narrowed the Act", I think it directed the Commissioner to do something, so she did it. The Act is arguably the same as it ever was, but has been supplemented by an essentially separate, though related, directive issued directly to the Commission from the Governor General in Council.

            If the implications of the Directive were as you would describe them then I don't think the NDP would have voted for it, and I CAN'T IMAGINE the Liberals supporting it.

  10. Parliament didn't overrule her.

    They overruled themselves.

    Keen doing what parliament did would have been a firing offense.

  11. Federal Court has already ruled it doesn't matter if the firing was justified.

  12. Thanks, Geiseric.

  13. I didn't stereotype "the other side". I made a comment about the Conservatives, i.e. Conservative Party of Canada. I was quite deliberate in not lower casing the "c".

    • I usually just refer to it as Harper's party, it lessens confusion and doesn't insult conservatives.

    • Like the membership of the CPC?

      Anyway the distinction was, and is noted.

      If the frog gives you respect, then I should give you the benefit of the doubt more.

  14. Let me see if I get the logice here : the Liberals are having L. Keen speak re: governance after they along with ALL the MP's in the House voted to nuke her? – talk about political hypocrisy.

    • I thought the house voted unanimously to reopen the Chalk River reactor, rather than to 'nuke' anyone. Ms. Keen's 'demotion' was decided at the ministerial level, without reference to the House, right?

    • See my point above. The vote in the House was a vote to ask Keen to do something that she was not empowered to do by statute (balance nuclear safety with any threat caused by a lack of medical isotopes).

      A Minister asked the Nuclear Safety Commissioner to do something that was beyond her mandate. Keen herself said at the time that if Parliament wanted the reactor restarted despite it not meeting safety standards they would have to vote in the House to ask her to do so, as her legal mandate did not allow her to make such a judgment, and her role was created specifically to make judgments on nuclear safety, not to balance nuclear safety against other government priorities. Parliament did so, essentially following her instructions (because our current batch of Parliamentarians are idiots who have no great understanding of law, or the nature of government in Canada apparently).

      And, in the end, the reactor was restarted on December 16th, about 48 hours before Keen would have ordered it re-opened herself, as AECL was scheduled to give their final safety report on the 18th.

      • See my response to LKO above also. Keen was wrong.

        • I don't think it's been determined that "Keen was wrong". In fact, I'd bet you that I can find more MPs who voted for that directive in the House who would say that Keen was right, than who would say that Keen was wrong.

        • Those decisions could only have been made by the board, not Keen.

          SHE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A VOTE!!!

      • Didn't the Prime Minister state that there was no safety concern when the issue first arose? He, a 'trained economist" (what's that mean, he doesn't have to use training wheels when discussing economics?) who's never worked as an economist, nor has any engineering or legal experience (well, he does know how to sue people), but by gum, knows every political tactic in the book? Glad the leadership of our government is in such capable hands.

    • What is hypocritical?

      They are having lots of speakers come in to talk about lots of subjects. Some are there to promote a specific policy front. Some are there to educate attendees on their particular area of expertise and elucidate on their particular relevant experiences so that attendees can formulate good policy.

      I know it is an alien approach to policy development for Conservatives. As we know, they base policies, and jettison principles and research, on polling.

  15. Paul Kennedy being fired is not sitting well with me.

    I don't trust Elliott.

    • For me, not trusting Elliot just brings a nice symmetry to the universe as, sadly, I don't trust the RCMP as a collective group at all anymore, so I might as well not trust their leaders either!

  16. Conbot Alert! :)

    • lol Didn't some joker here use the phrase…conbot engage? Where's he gone?

  17. huh?

  18. 1. She was not fired. Only in the sense that Lisa Raitt was recently "fired".

    2. She was incompetent for the position she held. Peter Principle. It happens.

    • and now you're saying it had nothing to do with interpretion.

      do yourself a favour and pick a horse.

      • No, she was incompetent in that she interpreted the Act incorrectly, as well as calculating risks incorrectly, as well as indicating there was some sort of International Standard that she applied.

        Do your self a favour and try to look at things objectively without the obvious partisan bias.

        • Then you ARE saying she SHE get fired (in the eyes of the law loss of stature is a dismissal) for not following an unclear direction.

          That's all fine and good if you don't mind being under a dictatorship but its still not justice.

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