Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, speaking in an inadvertently recorded conversation, calls solving the isotope shortage a “sexy” issue that she hopes to take credit for and she also expresses doubts about the parliamentary skills of Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.
The comments come in a more than five-hour recording that was made on Jan. 30 and obtained by the Halifax Chronicle Herald.
In a lengthy conversation with her former aide, Jasmine MacDonnell, Raitt also accuses Michael Ignatieff of buckling to threats from Canadian bankers who say they won’t donate to the party if the Liberal leader forces another federal election.
As the two are being chauffered in British Columbia, they discuss Aglukkaq’s handling of the isotope shortage caused by a heavy water leak at the Chalk River nuclear reactor near Ottawa.
“They’re terrified of the issues,” Raitt says during the recording, details of which were posted on the Chronicle Herald’s website after a Nova Scotia judge ruled Monday the newspaper could report the conversation.
“You know what? Good. Because when we win on this, we get all the credit. I’m ready to roll the dice on this. This is an easy one. You know what solves this problem? Money. And if it’s just about money, we’ll figure it out. It’s not a moral issue.”
Raitt also says she is disappointed in Aglukkaq.
“Oh, God, she’s such a capable woman, but it’s hard for her to come out of a co-operative government into this rough-and-tumble. She had a question in the House yesterday, or two days ago, that planked. I really hope she never gets anything hot.” Raitt’s woes were compounded Monday when New Democrats reignited a controversy over tens of thousands of dollars in questionable expenses the rookie minister racked up while as a senior executive with the Toronto Port Authority.
A spokesman for Stephen Harper said late Monday the prime minister has confidence in Raitt and Aglukkaq.
In Halifax, MacDonnell went to court to block the Halifax Chronicle Herald from publishing the contents of what was on her digital recorder.
Justice Gerald Moir of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court dismissed MacDonnell’s application.
The judge said the minister’s statement on the medical isotopes is important for the public to know and outweighs any potential harm to the reputation of MacDonnell.
“The issue of the political oversight of Canada’s medical isotope system is literally a matter of life and death for cancer patients.
“It is a matter of intense public interest,” he said.
“The handling of this issue by the government and the cabinet ministers is a matter of immediate public and political interest.”