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April 9, 2011 5:06 PM   Subscribe

A Political Meltdown: For decades, Canada has been a world leader in the production of medical isotopes. So why did the government announce that it was dumping the entire program? (alt)
posted by Orange Pamplemousse (22 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm feeling too lazy to finish reading the article, so I'm just going to guess "Harper is an idiot."
posted by benito.strauss at 5:35 PM on April 9, 2011


Surprise twist: Actually, it's (mostly) because Brian Mulroney's an idiot!
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:45 PM on April 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


This just seems completely bananas. Medical isotopes are too expensive, so we're cutting off the world supply? It's a high-demand medical necessity, right? Why not just raise the price?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:03 PM on April 9, 2011


Ahem "...too expensive to produce..."
posted by Sys Rq at 6:04 PM on April 9, 2011


The conservatives can't see a clear way to give it away to the private sector without looking like a bunch of idiots, so they're letting it fall by the wayside.
posted by sneebler at 6:06 PM on April 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Mostly because the government has always lost money on isotopes, and with the aging of our primary research reactor, and the spectacular design failure of its replacements, there's no incentive to keep being the world's benefactor.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:19 PM on April 9, 2011


It's a high-demand medical necessity, right? Why not just raise the price?

Nordion (the private isotope retailer) may have to do that once they have to source isotopes from other reactors (McMaster?) and accelerators (TRIUMF), rather than NRU. The federal government has just decided they weren't going to (fully) fund a new isotope producing facility, which is understandable considering how much they lost building the Maple reactors.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:25 PM on April 9, 2011


Sys Rq, because the government agreed to produce a specific supply at a specific price to spin it off to private industry in the first place. I'm not even sure this was originally intended to be a sweetheart deal or cronyism. They may have just not factored in the security costs to secure the reactor etc... into the pricing. Now that they are locked into a contract they are hosed, and have thrown a considerable degree of good money after bad.

Do these privatization deals ever work out well?
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:27 PM on April 9, 2011


Good article btw.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:30 PM on April 9, 2011


The conservatives can't see a clear way to give it away to the private sector without looking like a bunch of idiots...

Canada truly is a different world.
posted by DU at 6:40 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Very interesting read, thanks for posting that.
posted by General Crespin at 7:01 PM on April 9, 2011


Canada truly is a different world.

You may be surprised to learn that there is more to this world than just your United States of America. /joshin' ya

(That said, if Canada were a sitcom, it probably would star Sinbad.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:07 PM on April 9, 2011


Here in America they don't have any reservations about giving it away to the private sector and looking like idiots... all the way to the bank.
posted by Menthol at 7:19 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here in Canada they have no trouble telling you that a government owned enterprise is profitable when its losing bags of money. Same story, different words.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:25 PM on April 9, 2011


That said, if Canada were a sitcom, it probably would star Sinbad

If Canadian government is like a football team that calls a punt on every play.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:52 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was actually kind of impressed that a proper "cut your losses" business decision was made. Until reading that, I thought the Canadian way was to just keep running things until everyone retires. I wasn't until the late 80s, I believe, that the federal office for the investigation of the Halifax explosion was shut down.
posted by fatbird at 11:07 PM on April 9, 2011


If Canadian government is like a football team that calls a punt on every play.

Actually, they punt on third down.

Everyone who's gonna get it, got it, right? Moving on...
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:18 AM on April 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Interestingly I heard from someone at AECL that they have been selling medical isotopes at below-cost for years: The government would not let them sell at-cost or at a profit as they would be too expensive then. The conservatives are probably dumping this as part of there effort to get rid of all the Crown Corporations they can, despite the fact that this will jack the cost of isotopes up.
posted by Canageek at 7:52 AM on April 10, 2011


Do these privatization deals ever work out well?

Nope, and when it is public, it's just as bad, only in a different way. It's like the spouse who dumps partner #1 for another mate, only discover he or she can't do any better because partner #2 is just another maroon.

Maybe if they teamed up with Tim Hortons or Canadian Tire or Shopper's Drug Mart -- they seem to know how to make a buck over here. I wonder how much Canadian Tire money or Optimum points you would get back from buying isotopes...

And if Canada were a sitcom, it would sort of be like Seinfeld, only with a culturally diverse cast who would be trying to come off as a hybrid of Friends and the Andy Griffith Show...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:22 AM on April 10, 2011


Great article. Some of you above would do well to read it :P

However, it almost completely misses Harper's decision to override The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and restart the reactors. Very disappointing..
posted by Chuckles at 11:49 AM on April 10, 2011


Sorry, restart the reactor (singular).
posted by Chuckles at 11:49 AM on April 10, 2011


Oh well, at least canada still has it's asbestos industry, OK?
posted by wilful at 4:28 AM on April 11, 2011


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