Nuclear Policy and the Phoenix Coyotes

These topics are linked as two of the many interests of Jim Balsillie, RIM Co-CEO and philanthropist.


He founded the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) by contributing substantial startup funding followed by another large donation by RIM’s other Co-CEO, Mike Lazaridis.  The Federal and Ontario governments have also granted significant funds as have other organizations and individuals. 


CIGI is a think tank with the overall objective of improving governance by several means and their web site highlights their many interests and activities


The relevance of GIGI to the topic of this blog is the Nuclear Energy Futures Project, quoting from their website. “CIGI’s Nuclear Energy Futures Project is being conducted in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance (CCTC) at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa. The aim of the project is to investigate the implications of the so-called renaissance for nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation over the coming two decades and to make recommendations for consideration by the international community.”


The project is directed by Louise Fréchette, a former deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, who has had a long involvement in matters nuclear.


The Nuclear Futures Project has already produced some 8 reports. Ken Dormuth and I wrote the one on enrichment and so I have some bias. Be that as it may, I believe that the CIGI reports have already had an impact on the formation of Canadian nuclear policy and that they have influenced decision makers.  However, I’ve not seen any sign of discussion of CIGI’s work among the usual players in the nuclear industry. It deserves more attention than it has received.


The latest report in the CIGI series “Canadian Nuclear Industry Status and Prospects” ought to be interesting for readers of this blog.


Posted in Policy. 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Nuclear Policy and the Phoenix Coyotes”

  1. crf Says:

    This report sounds like cogent criticism of government nuclear policy over the last few decades.

    Why’d they bother? What can critics of government policy accomplish (especially, more than most, with the present government)?

    There is nothing special about the slowly unfolding malaise in our nuclear industry. Canada doesn’t have a research policy for large, expensive industrial or scientific projects. It has no clear funding mechanisms. It has clueless politicians and civil servants: they don’t know what science we are good at, historically, and what problems these areas are facing now and in the future. Nuclear science isn’t the only subject requiring a long term strategy and stable, large, federal funding for research and industrial development. All subjects requiring scientific developments and strategic thinking amongst industry and government are being slowly eroded in this country. (Recall, even, Peter Lougheed’s complaints about the Tar Sands.) There is no will to change this. We’re becoming strictly branch plant.

    ” Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task. ” ~~ Stephen Harper, 2000

    It apparently wasn’t really a complaint. It was also his prescription.

  2. crf Says:

    There is a good article about funding big long term science projects in the Vancouver Sun by Margaret Munro ~

    Lack of stable funding hobbles research facilities.

    It’s not about aecl, but it shows the mindset that has resulted in the light source, and Neptune, and (though the article doesn’t mention it) Canada’s telescope projects being built without clear long term means of financing. Along with the lack of an open process for weighing the scientific and strategic merits to decide what large projects are built in the first place, and sticking by that decision for the long term, science disciplines where we might excel can quickly become underdeveloped and neglected. Canada and whole world loses. And it largely happens in silence.

    The same mindset I’m sure has also led to AECL’s long term goals: science and commercial, being underdeveloped and neglected. In AECL’s case, this has obviously gone on for decades, in silence. And the politicians (they are so negligent) and the public only became aware of it during a crisis.

    Where’s the next science catastrophe going to come from? NRC? DFO? One thing urgently needed is for the government to force those organisations to provide the means of peer reviewing all aspects of their science programs by the community. Those organisations’ science programs are controlled largely by perhaps well-meaning, but scientifically unsophisticated and scientifically unaccountable bureaucrats whose overarching concern is to work within Ottawa’s fiscal schedule. They can’t know whether those science programs are well run, or relevant.

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