Harper’s Getting Old Government of Canada (GOGC) is getting good at doublespeak, most recently on the nuclear issue. On the one hand, the GOGC says that the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) is not on the table at the APEC meetings in Sydney, Australia this week and that Canada has not yet made a decision on joining in Bush’s radioactive partnership. On the other hand, as a Canadian Press reporter suggests, Canada will send a representative from Foreign Affairs to a GNEP meeting in Vienna in just over a week.
…Harper’s minority Conservative government clearly does not want to engage the Canadian public in any discussion about the initiative.
At a pre-APEC briefing last week, one of the prime minister’s most senior officials, flanked by his director of communications Sandra Buckler, carefully skirted a question on the GNEP.
“It doesn’t feature on the APEC agenda, per se,” said the official. “Whether the initiative has disappeared off the global agenda or the U.S. agenda, I really can’t say.”
The next day, in response to a separate and unrelated media inquiry, a spokesperson from Foreign Affairs confirmed Canada has been invited to a Sept. 16 meeting in Vienna to discuss the initiative.
“Canada has been invited to join the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and to participate in the next meeting scheduled to take place on September 16 in Vienna,” said the official.
“Canada is reviewing the proposed GNEP Statement of Principles and a decision on Canadian participation will be made shortly.”
That carefully neutral response – which left Canadian attendance in doubt barely a fortnight before the Vienna meeting – stands in contrast to earlier draft “talking points” obtained by The Canadian Press under an Access to Information request.
Those heavily censored documents show much greater enthusiasm.
“Canada is very interested in examining potential areas for partnership in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) given that we are the world’s largest uranium producer,” said one undated talking point from 2006.
The same memo continues: “Canadian officials . . . have begun discussions with their counterparts in the U.S. to consider possible parameters of Canadian involvement.”
As recently as April 7 this year, Peter Harder, the then-assistant deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, was corresponding with Robert Van Adel, the president of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., about the partnership plan.
As Van Adel wrote, the initiative “if implemented, would have significant technical and commercial implications for Canada, which need to be assessed.”
Internal government correspondence also indicates the nuclear initiative was on the agenda at the 2006 meeting between Harper, President Bush and then-Mexican president Vicente Fox in Mexico, and again at the 2006 G8 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Greenpeace is not amused. Nor am I, nor should any Canadian who cares about democracy and democratic process be.