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Stephen Harper should accept the resignation of Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, following what the prime minister's office is calling "embarrassing" comments on an audio recording discussing the medical isotope shortage, said Liberal critic David McGuinty.
"A minister of the Crown should not be trying to make her political career on the basis of cancer testing," McGuinty said of the audio recording released on Monday night, in which Raitt refers to the shortage as a "sexy" problem and indicates she wants credit for fixing it.
In the recording — made public by the Halifax Chronicle-Herald after the Nova Scotia Supreme Court rejected an injunction application on Monday — Raitt discusses the medical isotope shortage with her former head of communications, Jasmine MacDonnell, during a car ride the two shared in Victoria on Jan. 30.
In the recording, MacDonnell said the isotope issue is "confusing to a lot of people."
"But it's sexy," Raitt said. "Radioactive leaks. Cancer."
Later in her conversation with Ms. MacDonnell, Ms. Raitt tells the man driving them around Victoria that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff had backed down from defeating the Conservative government on a budget a few days earlier because he got a message from Canadian bankers.
"They did it at the Canadian Council of (Chief) Executives, there (were) three presidents of major banks who stood up in the room — and this is not from cabinet so I can talk about it — stood up and said, ‘Ignatieff, don’t you even think about bringing us to an election,’" said Ms. Raitt.
"‘We don’t need this. We have no interest in this. And we will never fund your party again.’ That was very powerful. So he heard it from very powerful people in the industry. He was definitely muzzled."
Liberal finance critic John McCallum, who was present for the closed-door Jan. 20 meeting with about 100 executives, says they were against the coalition and an election but there was "not even a hint of a veiled threat," and bankers would never make such a threat in a meeting with so many people present.
"That’s absolutely ridiculous," he said. "Can you imagine a bank president standing up in a room like that with more than 100 people in the room and saying something like that? It makes no sense."