Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Canada-US dance of RSN and CGI in an intermarriage of debacles

Diane  Francis has just released a book that espouses a merger between the United States and Canada, touting, among other things, the sizeable benefits to the U.S. from Canada's undeveloped resource sector and the immediate financial bonus to every Canadian, under one model, of some half a million dollars, as a one-time equalization payment.
While some may want to argue about the merits or demerits of her proposal, there will be others who, just this week will be pondering the extent of the already merging economies.
And in their ponderings, two sets of capital initials will emerge:
  • CGI, the computer company that played havoc with the Ontario health care system, nearly drowning it in faux pas, before committing a similar debacle on the Obamacare roll-out in the United States and
  • RSN, the fracking company from Texas that is finding New Brunswick aboriginal peoples blockading highways and burning RCMP cars to protest what they consider an unacceptable trade-off, their drinking water for underground natural gas. The native peoples believe, and considerable science supports their position, that the chemicals used in fracking (not having to be disclosed in the U.S. because of the Cheney Rule, named after the former Vice-president Dick Cheney, whose ties to the fossil fuel industry, including his former presidency of Halliburton are just part of his infamy) will indeed contaminate the underground fresh water table that supplies their drinking water.
CGI has so bungled the development of the computer infrastructure for the inauguration of the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. that it is conceivable their bungling could result in the complete dismantling of the program, without a single vote in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. And CGI is a Canadian company whose previous incompetence in their handling of the Ontario Health Care attempt to digitize patient records almost collapsed the system. So one has to wonder if those who engaged CGI in Washington had even bothered to ask about their record in Ontario. In the short term, many are calling for heads to roll in Washington, and Kathleen Sabelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, seems to have a target on her back for many. It will be a White House decision about whose heads have to fall but CGI could and should also be cited for failure to deliver on what could have been its rain-maker of an account, had it delivered on its commitments. And who would have thought this debacle would have raised its ugly head south of the border?...only 8 million Ontarians, had any one of us been asked.
But, for the longer term relations between Canada and the United States, everyone would be well served to pay attention to the First Nations people in New Brunswick, and across the rest of the country on the north side of the 49th parallel. These people do not tolerate bullshit, perhaps because they have been silenced and served too many dishes of the stuff for the past two centuries, and they are not going silently into the night ever again. And their commitment to the land, the water and the air are so unshakeable that no amount of money, and no promises of affluence, and no assurances by any government or corporation will undermine their commitment, both for themselves and on behalf of the rest of the people in the world, to a clean environment. And in their public declarations, they make it so simply: "We are not trading our water for gas!"
There are literally hundreds of fracking operations across the continent, many of them a potential risk to the drinking water of millions of people on both sides of the 49th parallel. Yet, it is the aboriginals in New Brunswick who have drawn a line in the sand to halt the proceedings on their land, in spite of the premier's commitment to develop a natural gas industry in New Brunswick.

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