Good Sunday Morning – Jan 29

This morning finds me back in the Ottawa apartment I have had since becoming a Member of Parliament nearly twelve years ago. I have not been here at all since before Christmas. I am super lucky that one of my Ottawa team, Carina Pogoler, lives a few blocks away and waters my plants! When she is back home in BC, someone many of you know, dear Rosie Emery, formerly Green Press Secretary, takes over from Carina. They live in the same building in the old Ottawa neighbourhood we share called Sandy Hill. I am lucky to have such friends. And so are my plants!

I have had some of these since my Sierra Club days. The bougainvillea is the oldest. It is older than Cate! In the vast whirlwind that is my life, it is a comfort to have my old things around – even the tea kettle that was a gift from Adriane Carr and Colleen McCrory.

Last week has been part of that whirlwind experience. As planned, Jonathan Pedneault (JP) did a solo tour of Newfoundland and Labrador. He fell so hard for that gorgeous province that I think he is only half-kidding when he says he might run in St. John’s East. He started in St. John’s and then bussed to Corner Brook, bus to Port aux Basques, ferry to North Sydney and bus to New Glasgow. There he shifted to Marlene Well’s Green tour vehicle! Not her own car. That one was totalled in Fiona losing a beautiful old tree and her car in one fell swoop. Monday morning she and JP picked me up from my billet with old Halifax friends and the packed schedule began. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island touring went according to plan meeting with NS Greens, the elected PEI Official Opposition and talking to classrooms in NS and PEI universities, But Wednesday a looming storm caused us to change plans on the fly. We had to (ever so sadly) leave PEI early, to get to Moncton just ahead of the blizzard. We were storm-stayed most of Thursday. We did get to Fredericton in time to meet the wonderful volunteer team from the Fredericton EDA, but my evening lecture at St. Thomas University was cancelled due to the storm.

Friday we were back on track, joining NB Green leader David Coon in a press conference focused on the health care crisis. After lunch with NB MLAs Megan Mitton and David Coon, (third fab NB Green MLA Kevin Arsenault could not join), we headed to the VIA Rail station in Moncton for the trip to Ottawa.

In thinking about what to share this morning, I want to focus on what I would have said in my canceled talk: “Why nuclear is not a solution to the climate crisis.”

Greens globally have always opposed nuclear energy, but the reasons are not ideological. Given the existential threat of the climate crisis, I would never reject any possible technology. As Greens we apply evidence-based criteria to any and all energy options:
1) How much is the cost per tonne of GHG reduction?
2) How long does it take to get energy from proposed technology X from the moment of the decision to approve to production of energy?
3) How many jobs are created per dollar invested in technology X?

When those tests are applied, nuclear ranks last. It is the least helpful in reducing GHG, at the highest cost, with the fewest jobs, taking the longest to be built. That leaves out entirely the other very relevant concerns – long-lived highly dangerous nuclear waste and the link between nuclear energy production and nuclear weapons proliferation.

The clear winner is energy efficiency and conservation -reducing how much energy we use. Retrofitting all our buildings, increasing insulation, installing heat pumps. Moving to efficient public transportation. Eliminating the internal combustion engine. Then, far out pacing nuclear are renewable options- solar, wind (including off-shore wind), geo-thermal, run-of-the-river hydro, tidal,

The question needs to be asked why, in spite of all the evidence – are our governments – federal and many provincial – shovelling millions of dollars into nuclear? Why are they avoiding environmental or impact assessments?

My talk was going to focus on this. The reality is that the so-called “Small Modular Reactors” (SMRs) are a scam being promoted by corporations with the greatest financial incentive.

What Canadian corporation comes to mind as having phenomenal lobbying clout? How about the company that managed to apply extraordinary pressure on our former Justice Minister, Jody Wilson Raybould? I will never give up on demanding the RCMP inquiry into the SNC Lavalin bribery and corruption scandal. SNC-Lavalin brushed off any slight reputational damage and is now using its same insider-clout to get government to comply. Recall, we have seen both the Harper and Trudeau governments influenced by the deep tentacles of SNC-Lavalin into the highest levels of decision-making.

SNC-Lavalin became a major nuclear player in 2011 when the Harper administration sold it Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) for a song – $15 million. After decades and billions of dollars in public subsidies, AECL became a subsidiary in the vast SNC-Lavalin empire.

It is now the largest shareholder in the international, industry consortium pushing SMRs- the Canadian National Energy Alliance.

It was a fascinating exercise in preparing for my talk to verify that SNC-Lavelin was a major player in all of it. The two SMRs slated for New Brunswick – ARC and Moltex – keep their promotional materials free of SNC-Lavalin references. You have to dig (And thanks to Green Shadow Cabinet critic Sarah Gabrielle Baron for helping with the digging.)

Here, for example is the lead from this industry press release:

“Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a collaboration agreement with ARC Clean Energy Canada (ARC Canada), a New Brunswick-based team working to develop and licence its sodium-cooled advanced small modular reactor (SMR) technology”

Looking for details in the release, you get this:

About Canadian National Laboratories
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is a world leader in nuclear science and technology offering unique capabilities and solutions across a wide range of industries. Actively involved with industry-driven research and development in nuclear, transportation, clean technology, energy, defence, security and life sciences, we provide solutions to keep these sectors competitive internationally.

Same thing with the Moltex announcement:

Moltex has received financial support from the New Brunswick, United Kingdom and United States governments. It has also benefited from financial and technical support from IDOM, a leading European nuclear engineering consulting company who are aiding in the design of the reactor, and from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) who are supporting the fuel recycling development program.

More information is available online at

You have to go to SNC-Lavalin’s website to find its central role in CNL and CNEA:

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is a world leader in nuclear science and technology.

We (SNC-Lavalin) are a majority partner in a consortium which manages and operates CNL, which is currently managing its ageing infrastructure and renewing its laboratories. This investment will ensure the organization stays at the top of its field while strengthening Canada’s status in the international scientific community.

Thanks to citizen activist Ole Hendrickson for finding the links between SMRs, SNC-Lavalin and its commercial partners to the nuclear weapons industry.

“In 2015, the Harper Government contracted a multinational consortium called Canadian National Energy Alliance—now comprised of two U.S. companies, Fluor and Jacobs, along with Canada’s SNC-Lavalin—to operate AECL’s nuclear sites, the main one being at Chalk River. Fluor operates the Savannah River Site, a South Carolina nuclear-weapons facility, under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy. Jacobs also has contracts at DOE weapons facilities and is part of a consortium that operates the U.K. Atomic Weapons Establishment.”

(originally published December 3, 2020)

The Moltex proposal for Point Lepreau is particularly alarming in terms of nuclear proliferation as it plans to strip plutonium from the high-level nuclear waste at Lepreau for the molten salt reactor. Any risk of creating a plutonium economy must be stopped.

There is much more to say about why we must stop this new nuke fad. Sensible people (and I know some) are falling for the line that using spent fuel in an SMR is like recycling. We are so overwhelmed with so many issues. We know the Trudeau Liberals do not want this one studied and assessed. Environment and Climate Change minister Steven Guilbeault just rejected the call for an assessment of the ARC SMR.

For now, I will sign off with an apology for a way too long letter! Tomorrow parliament resumes. I start with my amendments to S-5, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, back before Committee at clause by clause. It will be a busy week!

Have a wonderful Sunday!



This Sunday! Please share widely.
“Youth Fighting for a Nuclear Weapons Free Future”
Sunday January 29th, 2023
8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Register here: