Nukes - again! (December 20, 2020)

Good Sunday Morning

This will be the last missive of 2020.  

I was thinking I would write something ahead to be emailed to you on December 27th, but then decided that the volunteers who help me with GSM deserve a day off.   Good Sunday Morning is a 100% volunteer effort from Saanich-Gulf Islands.  I write it, Bob MacKie from Salt Spring Island does all the formatting and sending to your individual emails, and Robyn Ross is the volunteer extraordinaire who receives and sorts all replies and sends me any personal notes to which I should reply. So here’s a shout out to SGI Green volunteers!  

And as this is my last chance in 2020, I will ask for a donation before the end of this note.

But first to the news and musings of the week.

As expected, Trudeau’s Liberals have gone all in for nuclear power. That could have been ripped from the headlines of the 1970s as Pierre Trudeau shouted back at anti-nuclear protesters calling for solar (words to the effect of) “what would you do today?” pointing to the cloudy skies.  It was the government of Pierre Trudeau that really ramped up the subsidies to nuclear in support of the CANDU reactor. Although not officially created until 1952, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) has a long history with predecessor Canadian government research linked to the Manhattan project and the development of the nuclear bomb.

Now Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan has been sucked into the latest nuclear propaganda- that “there is no pathway to Net Zero without nuclear.” There is and we’ve laid it out in the Green Party’s Mission: Possible.

Our plan to get to 60% below 2005 levels by 2030 does not include any new nuclear - nor any new hydro mega-dams. But our old friends at SNC Lavalin are at it again - pushing for both big dams and unwanted nukes.   What many Canadians do not know is that after tens of billions of dollars in subsides to AECL, Harper sold the commercial reactor division of AECL to SNC Lavalin for the sweetheart deal price of $15 million.

SNC-Lavalin formed a consortium called the Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA) to run some of the broken apart bits of AECL. CNEA has been the big booster of what sounds like some sort of warm and cuddly version of nuclear energy – Small Modular Reactors. Do not be fooled. Not only do we not need new nuclear, not only does it have the same risks as previous nuclear reactors and creates long lived nuclear wastes, it is more tied to the U.S. military-industrial complex than ever before.  That’s because SNC-Lavalin’s partners in the CNEA are US companies Fluor and Jacobs. Thanks to anti-nuke volunteer from Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, retired scientist Ole Hendrickson, for this expose in the Hill Times.

Hendrickson explains:

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.

Joe McBrearty, the president of the consortium’s subsidiary that operates Chalk River and other federal nuclear sites, was a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine commander and then chief operating officer for the DOE’s nuclear laboratories between 2010 and 2019.

A military bromance: SMRs to support and cross-subsidize the UK nuclear weapons program, says, “industry and government in the U.K. openly promote SMRs on the grounds that an SMR industry would support the nuclear weapons program (in particular the submarine program) by providing a pool of trained nuclear experts, and that in so doing an SMR industry will cross-subsidize the weapons program.”  …

With the takeover of AECL’s Chalk River Laboratories by SMR developers, and growing federal government support for SMRs, Canada has become part of a global regime linking nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

On January 22, 2021, the United Nations Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons will enter into force. Canada is not signing on.  We should all be demanding that we dump the SMR scheme and sign on to the treaty.

Related to the US military industrial complex was the hacking of 18,000 data bases including large parts of the US government. The hackers are unknown but suspected of being from Russia. The sites that may have been accessed include those storing information on US weapons systems and nuclear weapons.

It certainly strengthens Green skepticism that Canada should waste any money on fighter jets.  Real security in future, just as real threats, will come more from cyber space. 

Meanwhile, some good news this week. The Hon Bernadette Jordan, minister of fisheries, finally did the right thing and announced that the operation of toxic fish factories near the Discovery Islands would end. Your Green MPs have been working very hard to get this result. Finally!

And to end the year with some inspiration, I want to share this extraordinary feature on Sonia Furstenau in the venerable US magazine The New Republic.

In explaining Canadian Greens to a US audience, author Ian Beacock writes:

“Green Party fortunes are rising in many multiparty democracies as the climate emergency escalates. B.C. might have been laboratory-designed for a Green surge. An increasingly progressive province with long traditions of ecological activism, B.C. is now grappling with climate change firsthand, from sea-level rise around the Salish Sea to the wildfires destroying homes and thickening the air….”

“Like her federal counterpart, Annamie Paul, a human rights lawyer and the first Black woman to lead a major Canadian political party, Furstenau believes that climate change, inequality, and systemic racism can and must be addressed together.”

He goes on to describe Sonia’s brilliant work in the snap BC election and how she framed the goal of resilience.

“Resiliency, in Furstenau’s telling, isn’t just a policy goal. It’s a new political ideal and underlying narrative for the twenty-first century, an alternative tale about what politics is for and what our time horizons should look like. A resilient society, she suggested to me in a phone conversation, would be one dedicated to longer-term human flourishing in challenging new conditions. In addition to emergency-scale climate action, it might devote resources to improving food security, encouraging neighborly bonds and community organization, rethinking policing, or reimagining the nature of work. It would be a decarbonized world, in which everyone felt safe and supported and cared-for.”

And in Sonia’s own words, this inspiration to chart our course turning fear into hope:

“If we continue the way we are, the sacrifices that we will have to make will become greater and greater and greater. And the losses will become deeper… But taking action isn’t a sacrifice. Taking action is what leads us away from this loss and devastation, and leads us into a more hopeful and—again—a more resilient future.”

And with that, I leave you to your own thoughts. 2020 has been a very hard year. We know we need to rebuild and re-make a better world.

Within months, we may well be in a federal election.  Just in case you can manage a donation to get a tax credit for 2020, please consider making a donation. We really need more Green MPs. We need Annamie Paul in Parliament and with many others along with re-electing our current three Green MPs- Paul Manly, Jenica Atwin and me!

Anything you can give in 2020 helps us build for a (hope not, but likely!) 2021 election.

Stay safe and stay well!  And Good Sunday Morning will be back in your in-box on January 3, 2021.

 Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year!!

And Festivus for the Rest-of-us!

Much love,


PS I had a letter in the Globe and Mail this week. Wanted to share it!

Re The Liberals Go All In On The Carbon Tax (Editorial, Dec. 14): If every country on Earth had a target as weak as Canada’s, we would be on track to a world warmer by 5 C.

The difficulty in understanding how the government’s plan can be heralded as so good, yet its ambition so low, is that we remain misled about what was pledged in Paris. What Canada calls our “Paris target” is incompatible with holding to 1.5 C – the actual Paris target. Ours remains one put in place by Stephen Harper, six months before negotiations began in 2015. Justin Trudeau’s more impressive plan is to reach a target that is approximately half of what must be done if we are serious about holding to 1.5 C.

As The Globe’s editorial states: “The urgency to act is real.” According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, without Herculean effort, the window on holding to 1.5 C will close – forever – before 2030.

Elizabeth May OC; MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands; Parliamentary Leader, Green Party of Canada; Sidney, B.C.

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