But was it incompetence? If a crisis suits your purposes and you manage to manufacture one, wouldn't that be exemplary work? You might even say it was "beyond the normal call of duty."
The HarperCons are ideologically opposed to the concept of crown corporations. They make no secret about that. They were floating the idea of selling AECL as early as June 2006. Berlynn blogged about it way back then. More recently, General Electric has shown intertest in taking AECL off the Canadian taxpayers' hands.
This manufactured crisis has everything to do with the bigger picture of dumping AECL. Even many well-informed people are buying into the idea that AECL is a troublesome entity and we taxpayers would be better off if it were not our responsibility.
The whole "create a crisis and look like leaders by solving it" tactic is straight out of the Commonsense Revolution playbook. Harris' high school dropout Education Minister Snobelen revealed the tactic years ago. The recycled commonsense revolutionaries in Harper's cabinet are simply doing what they know.
John Snobelen, the former Minister of Education and Training of the (Harris) government, eloquently explained this uniqueness: "We need to invent a crisis." To his credit he kept his promise, delivering an unwanted, manufactured, artificial crisis through Bills 104 and 160. (Source)The real smoking gun here is the AG Sheila Fraser's September report. All of Lunn's "I didn't know a thing!" protestations are meaningless in light of Fraser's report. Even the National Post is calling for Lunn's ouster.
Harper's getting more and more experience in dealing with ministerial incompetence. He was relatively successful when he stood by the incompetent O'Connor. O'Connor lost some face but was not disgraced by being abruptly canned. Harp's trying to save Lunn's and his own ass by recycling the same tactics that worked when everyone knew O'Connor was unfit for the job. Ditto Rona.
Poor ol' Harper. He's fishin' in a shallow talent pool and these numbnutses is all he's got to work with.
Watch for another cabinet shuffle in which Lunn's demotion will be quietly lost in the shuffle. Wonks and political bloggers still remember what a dangerous klutz O'Connor was. The general public and voters, not so much. CPC types still contend he was doing a good job.
I hope this issue doesn't die down too fast but the attention span of the MSM is short. A shiny new story will replace the story of Lunn's incompetence as soon as Harper can pull it out of his hat.