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A Brilliant Power Supply Plan Colud Be Ours: The Sham of 'Consultation' in McGuinty's Ontario

Miriam Stucky

I knew the nuclear no-good-niks were up to something fishy a few years ago now, when their insidious ads started showing up on TV. “Unclear about nuclear?” asked the most pleasant woman’s voice imaginable. And, through a few high-paid ad agency slight-of-hands, against the background of a clear blue sky, any doubt in the mind of Joe Public was wiped away, replaced with a highly-polished equation: nuclear = clear. The only thing clear to me was that AECL or CNSA or some other such acronym had spent an ungodly sum in the first of many wrong-headed steps down a road to new nukes in Ontario. Imagine the brilliant power supply plan Ontarians could have if the people actually had a say?!

Less than a year later then-Minister of Energy Donna Cansfield did something I’m sure she didn’t mean to: she said publicly she’d listed to anyone who wanted to talk to her about the provinces’ draft energy supply plan; I booked my appointment. She and her lackey sat there, in their too-fancy, too-sterile offices and didn’t listen. They talked, but I sure didn’t feel heard. They were stuck like glue to their extremely low conservation targets and their virtual pooh-poohing of renewables. The seemed to think they were being progressive, but they didn’t appear to have a clue about what was possible, let alone a concept of what would be involved in at real leadership on this issue in the province. I was disappointed. I had almost thought maybe Ontarians could have a say in our energy policy and practice.

What next? Last fall General Electric held a “public consultation” on their plan to assemble ‘slightly enriched’ uranium fuel bundles at their plant in Peterborough. They set and kept the list of who would attend the meeting. They had over a dozen security guards present and at-the-ready. They had no answers about the safety of trucks on the road carrying these materials. They were unwilling to answer questions about earlier bad-behaviour in handling PCBs in our community. They toasted the end of the meeting with wine, all-smiles that they could now check “public consultation” off their list. The sham of a process frightened me. Imagine the brilliant energy technologies we could build if people actually had a say?!

Last night I went to the last “public consultation” I will attend on this issue. OPG held an information session on its Environmental Assessment of its plan for Darlington B. Same-old. They opened with the line “this isn’t yet decided,” and then proceeded to outline the millions already spent on a construction plan, down to details of the routes construction trucks would take so as not to inconvenience school buses. They offered the audience pens to fill out surveys so as to outline the relative importance of ‘water fowl’ vs. ‘aboriginal artifacts on-site.’ Their Assessment was limited to the reactor site. I guess the provincial government has already exempted itself from a real assessment of what’s actually at stake. I will not engage these suits any more. I look forward to continuing to learn from and support thoughtful, creative and smart people with a vision for renewable, regional energy generation and distribution. I am excited to continue to work and play with others who are committed to humane, sane, viable practices of energy production and consumption in Ontario.

We have a say, and we will continue to exercise it.

AECL = Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
CNSA = Canadian Nuclear Safety Association
OPG = Ontario Power Generation