Nova Scotia’s provincial government sensibly banned uranium mining in 1981. A later provincial government sensibly extended the ban in 2009. Sensibly because it was one of those unusual times when the provincial government followed the will of the majority of Nova Scotians who oppose both uranium mining and nuclear energy.

But all Canadians should be concerned that the Trudeau government is spending $50.5m on small nuclear reactor research in New Brunswick for 48 jobs and a promise of energy sometime in the 2030s. According to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists small nuclear power plants are no use in the climate crisis; they are unsafe, costly, unproven and clearly linked to military weapons manufacturing.

Why are we Canadian taxpayers underwriting this disproven technology that "has fundamental safety and security disadvantages compared with other low-carbon sources?”

Money spent on cheaper, proven, quicker low carbon solutions could immediately benefit Canadians by putting electricity on the grid now-not making promises of “maybe” in the 2030s. Any of the proven technologies [solar, wind, energy efficiency] or improving the transmission grid in New Brunswick to import Quebec hydroelectricity and shut down Nova Scotia coal-fired stations would be a better use of public money and create at least 48 jobs that the small nuke promises.

Citizens’ taxes to experimental small nuclear seems especially short-sighted knowing that the Canadian government under Prime Minister Harper sold all Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) to SNCLavalin for $15m. That was after decades of government subsidies. These publicly funded gifts continued even to the end. As part of the sale/divestment the feds gave $75 million to complete development of a new reactor-enhance Candu 6.

To see Canada reverse its ban on extracting plutonium—a key ingredient for nuclear weapons— from used nuclear fuel, tout it as recycling and sink $50.5 million of citizens’ tax-dollars into test nuclear tech makes as much sense as buying pipelines and subsidizing fossil fuels to achieve higher GHG emissions reductions.

Canada is one of the most flagrant climate offenders of this century. We may think we’re doing ok but we’re the only G7 country that is still emitting GHG emissions way above 1990 levels at 21% more. Compare that to the US which is on par with its 1990 levels, the 27 EU countries that are 25% below 1990 levels or the UK which is at 42% below 1990 levels and it's evident that Canada’s contradictory climate policy isn’t working. Time to stop with the "we can have our cake and eat it too" and get serious on where we invest time and money.

Peggy Cameron, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Vice-President, Black River Wind Ltd.