Harper announced Friday evening that he had accepted the resignation of AECL's chairman, Michael Burns, effective Dec. 31. Glenna Carr will take over as chair, while Hugh MacDiarmid will become CEO...Now, it might make sense to a point that Harper might acquire some tunnel vision from within a party which doesn't see government as anything more than a patronage machine. And that would explain his apparent assumption that other parties would have just as little interest in merit-based appointments as his own.
Burns, who was appointed in October 2006, was once chief fundraiser for the Canadian Alliance and chairman of the Canadian Alliance Fund. The Alliance merged with the Progressive Conservatives in 2003 to form the Conservative Party.
Meanwhile, cabinet records show that the Harper government named a defeated New Brunswick provincial election candidate to the Nuclear Safety Commission just days before Harper alleged partisan connections between Keen and the Liberal party.
Cabinet approved the appointment of former Tory candidate Ronald Barriault only eight days before Harper made his controversial comments about Keen being a Liberal appointee. Keen has denied any political affiliation.
But the damage arising out of AECL's poor planning should highlight the dangers of assuming that the ability to wring money out of the Cons' base makes for sufficient qualification to oversee a major industrial organization. And making matters worse, it seems clear from Harper's attitude toward past and present appointees to the CNSC that the Cons aren't any more aware of the need to put actual knowledge ahead of partisan interests when it comes to the regulator responsible for nuclear safety in Canada. Which can only offer one more indication that it's long past time to remove Harper from any position where he's able to decide who'll be responsible for keeping Canadians safe.