Uranium Development Partnership: Majority of group pro-development; Cameco, TransCanada, AREVA big Saskatchewan Party contributors
Questions are being raised about the ability of the Saskatchewan Party government’s new 12-person group mandated to identify, evaluate and make recommendations on Saskatchewan-based, value added opportunities in the uranium industry to be objective.
Ann Coxworth of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society says a number of people on the new Uranium Development Partnership panel are from or related to the industry.
“I think it’s got a clearly pro-nuclear development mandate and their question is not whether to proceed with development, but how,” she said.
Coxworth was invited to be part of the panel but turned the offer down after reviewing the partnership’s mandate and concluding she would be uncomfortable with any consensus achieved.
“(The group) might objectively look at a range of options like (enrichment, waste disposal and nuclear energy) and consider which would be the least problematic for the province to look in to, but I don’t see that they are mandated to look objectively at whether or not this is the right direction for Saskatchewan to be pursuing in the first place,” she said. [Environment group questions uranium panel objectivity (StarPhoenix, Oct. 21, 2008)]
Richard Florizone, a nuclear physicist and vice-president of finance at the
Other members of the partnership include Cameco Corp., Areva Resources Canada Inc., Bruce Power Inc., TransCanada Corp., Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2067 and Edward Mathie, a professor of nuclear physics at the
According to the Saskatchewan Government news release the partnership will also identify challenges to development; investment requirements and timelines; legislative and/or regulatory conditions required to move forward. The partnership will also identify research and development opportunities; labour force requirements; and education and training capacity.
The partnership will provide a final report to the government by March 31, 2009. The report will include specific recommendations on value added opportunities best suited to the development of the uranium industry.
The Partnership’s work plan does not include submissions from the public, but the complete Partnership Report will be released as part of a full public consultation process.
Aside from the official government news release and two news stories by
Some initial questions include:
– Why has the partnership’s work plan not been made available to the public? (An access to information request dated Oct. 28, 2008, has been submitted to the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation for a copy of the record.)
– The partnership will provide a final report to the government by Mar. 31, 2009, but will interim reports be provided to government along the way? If so, will they be made available to the public?
– Specifically who is the partnership going to consult with?
The StarPhoenix’s Cassandra Kyle reported on a presentation given by Enterprise Saskatchewan CEO Dale Botting at a North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) luncheon on Sept. 11, 2008, at
– Is the Uranium Development Partnership legal? At the NSBA luncheon Botting said the new group is “a special
The Enterprise Saskatchewan Act notes in Section 4(a) that the purpose of the agency is “to establish sector teams” in a number of sectors of
– Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said all members of the panel, except for two which the province recruited, were chosen through recommendations. Who specifically recommended each member?
– How can the group remain objective when at least 9 of the 12 members appear to be pro-development?
Before expanding on this particular point it might be good to know where the Saskatchewan Party stands on uranium and nuclear issues.
The Saskatchewan Party’s 2005 Annual Convention was held Feb. 4-6, 2005, in
The Saskatchewan Party Policy Book contains the following four resolutions related to uranium and nuclear power:
EC05-5. Building on the Strength of
Be it resolved that the Saskatchewan Party supports the responsible expansion of the uranium industry in
EC06-2. Supporting Construction of Uranium Refining in
EC06-3. Studying the Feasibility of Building Nuclear Power Generation Facilities in
On Oct. 19, 2007, Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall released the party’s Securing the Future 2007 Election Platform. It stated that a Saskatchewan Party government would create a new central economic development agency called
– Support research, development and the commercialization of innovation in activities related to energy, forestry, mining and agriculture;
– Work with the federal government to increase the number of value-added initiatives for
– Explore and identify uranium value-added opportunities; and
– Review and address tax measures, infrastructure barriers and export barriers to assist in the value-added development of our natural resources.”
On Dec. 17, 2007, the Saskatchewan Party government introduced legislation establishing
According to the
The 20-page report notes that the board was given a presentation on potential value-added nuclear opportunities for further assessment:
– nuclear power;
– uranium conversion;
– medical isotopes; and
– other research.
The Board recommended that a full evaluation of the economic potential for value-added expansion of the nuclear industry and environmental considerations for
– the evaluation should be carried out by a partnership including representatives from all phases of the nuclear fuel cycle, as well as Saskatchewan business, labour, universities, First Nations, and local governments;
– the work of the partnership be supported with funding from industry and government; and
– the partnership be mandated to report back to Cabinet with its evaluation and recommendations for next steps by January 31, 2009.
The report does not say who gave the presentation or at which meeting the board made its recommendation.
A briefing note in the board’s Mar. 31 agenda package, which was obtained through an access to information request, describes
Also in the board’s Mar. 31 agenda package was the Enterprise Saskatchewan Draft Business Plan: Fulfilling the Promise of Saskatchewan (March 2008) written by Dale Botting, the deputy minister of Enterprise and Innovation, which states “Enterprise Saskatchewan will be formed as a more independent, arms’ length agency of government…Its main purpose will be to bring the process of economic development closer to the grassroots input and prioritization of key partners in the Saskatchewan economy.”
“Perhaps the greatest paradigm shift to be generated by Premier Wall’s new “Promise of Saskatchewan”, is the tremendous devolution of governance, economic analysis, and strategic planning away from the “back rooms” of politicians and elite bureaucrats, and alternatively through more frequent and open forums of collaboration among multiple stakeholders,” the draft plan states.
And yet with all the talk about being independent and arms length of government, at the very first meeting of the
Furthermore, according to the Mar. 31 agenda, board members received a copy of Wall’s economic paper The Promise of Saskatchewan – A New Vision for Saskatchewan’s Economy (Sept. 2004), and also a copy of the Saskatchewan Party’s 2007 election platform Securing the Future – New Ideas for Saskatchewan. Why? Was this is to remind the board of why they’re there, who is in charge and what philosophy must be followed?
But it didn’t end there. The agenda also shows that Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris addressed the board and that board chair Lyle Stewart, the Minister of Enterprise and Innovation, requested that the board establish a “Business Services and Red Tape Reduction Council (with new reform agenda).”
Norris, according to the
As for Stewart’s request “The Board passed a motion to establish a strategic issues council to make recommendations on ways to improve business services including one-stop services and to reduce regulatory red tape.” The Regulatory Modernization Council was announced on Sept. 17, 2008, and held its first meeting that day.
Out of the gate less than a day and the agency’s credibility had already been scuttled by political meddling.
It’s interesting to note that according to the Enterprise Saskatchewan Board of Directors Policy Manual (March 2008) Minister Lyle Stewart, as chair, sets “the agenda of the Board and members’ meetings in consultation with the CEO” and “shall vote on all matters and has a second vote in the event of a tie.” Stewart will also chair the agency’s executive committee and be an ex-officio member of all committees of the Board. There are Senior Officials’ Forums – i.e. parallel co-ordinating committees of related Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Crown Presidents working with the Enterprise Saskatchewan Minister/Chair and his CEO. In other words, Stewart’s clout will be considerable.
Like the Regulatory Modernization Council, the Uranium Development Partnership is the result of political interference. Dragging its credibility down even further is the fact that at least 9 of its 12 members appear to be pro-development:
1) Ray Ahenakew, president of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology and former Chief Executive Officer of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council.
In the mid-1990’s the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, an organization representing several northern First Nations, studied the idea of storing nuclear waste on its land but backed down after widespread protests.
“The waste would arrive via a proposed temporary storage site on the Mescalero Apache reservation in
“The Mescalero released a document last month describing how nuclear waste from across the
In an interview with CTV’s W-Five Ahenakew, the Tribal Council’s executive director, said “We understand the cycle of uranium. We understand the cycle of to spend fuel that’s left. We went, talked to the government and said look, we want to look at it.”
Oneill Gladue, a vice chief of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, told reporter Susan Ormiston that “there’s a lot of jobs. I mean, long term jobs, for example. There’s a lot of money to be made.”
“[L]et’s face it, we’re in this thing for profit too,” Gladue said.
When asked how much money could be made Gladue said “Billions of dollars.” [Nuclear Indians (W-FIVE, CTV Television, Jan 10, 1995)]
2) Keith Brown represents the
Brown appears to be a long-time Saskatchewan Party supporter. Since 2003 Trailtech has contributed $7,239.72 to the party.
The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce has passed four resolutions in the last two years that support uranium and nuclear development.
At its 2007 Annual General Meeting a resolution submitted by the Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce’s investment and growth committee and the Greater Saskatoon & District Chamber of Commerce called Uranium Mining and Refining in Saskatchewan was passed.
“Industry has advised us that another uranium refinery is needed and the decision to proceed will be made in 2007. The location of this refinery, somewhere in the world, will be in a constituency that welcomes it and will openly encourage the development,” the submission states.
“We can attract this new investment to
It was recommended: 1) That the Government of Saskatchewan create a welcoming jurisdiction to facilitate the building of a new uranium refinery by:
– Directly contacting the uranium producers in this province to express Government of Saskatchewan support for a new refinery.
– Commit to employment training to help meet the needs of a new refinery.
– Removing or reducing inhibitors to development as determined by the uranium producers.
– Accelerating the approval process for mines and refineries which currently takes up to five years for a new mine or processing facility to clear regulatory and other hurdles in
– Encourage the federal regulator to accelerate the time line for project review without relaxing the environmental standards for approval.
2) That communities and municipalities encourage a new refinery in
3) That the federal regulatory agency, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, undertake their review process with the view of maintaining current safety standards while providing a review/timeline similar to the timelines for the review and decision period established in other jurisdictions where such an investment could occur.
At its 2008 Annual General Meeting held in Humboldt May 8 and 9, 2008, the Chamber passed three uranium related resolutions.
The first was submitted by the Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce and Regina & District Chamber of Commerce called Regulatory Issues in the Uranium Industry.
“The Saskatchewan Mining Association reports that
It was recommended: “That the Province of Saskatchewan and the Federal Government continue to streamline the regulatory and licensing requirements as they pertain to the Uranium Industry, with the goal of increasing the efficiency of the licensing process and reducing time frames which would reflect in an increase in production capacity and strongly encourage the Uranium Producers to develop value added industry in Saskatchewan.”
It should be noted that the Saskatchewan Mining Association and the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce are powerful lobby groups. AREVA Resources Canada Inc. and Cameco Corporation are members of both.
The second resolution passed was regarding Nuclear Fuel Cycle Research in Saskatchewan. It was submitted by the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce’s investment and growth committee.
“The beginnings of
“In this context one initiative that has already been started is Western Nuclear Energy Research Group Inc., a non-profit corporation working in collaboration with the
It was recommended: “That the Government of Saskatchewan support research concerning the nuclear fuel cycle, including the work of Western Nuclear Energy Research Group Inc. In addition, the Government of Saskatchewan should encourage the private sector and other governments to act likewise in support of this important initiative.”
Information obtained from the Corporations Branch of Saskatchewan Justice show that the Western Nuclear Energy Research Group was incorporated on Mar. 14, 2007. It currently has three directors: Ian Bailey, Colin Hindle and Malcolm Wilson, all of
Hindle is an adjunct professor with the Faculty of Business Administration at the
Bailey is the director of the University-Industry Liaison Office (UILO) at the
Records obtained from the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation under freedom of information legislation shows that Hindle met with Deputy Minister Dale Botting on Feb. 20, 2008, and
The third resolution passed the Chamber’s 2008 AGM was regarding The Uranium Fuel Cycle in Saskatchewan. It was submitted by the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce’s investment and growth committee.
“The ability of hydrocarbons to provide that energy is limited, because of the finite nature of supply, the possibly significant role of hydrocarbons in causing global warming, and because of their eventual greater value as chemical feedstock. Relative to other options for the displacement of hydrocarbon-based energy sources, uranium is cost effective and years of operating experience has shown that nuclear energy is safe and has minimal environmental and waste related impacts,” the submission states.
“As a major source of the world’s uranium,
The recommendation was: “That the Government of
i) Supporting research related to uranium (see resolution Nuclear Fuel Cycle Research)
ii) Proactively seeking out support for opportunities for new investment involving uranium.
iii) Identifying and removing barriers to the development of uranium based industries in
The submission fails the mention that uranium is a natural resource and its supply is finite as well.
The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce forwarded its 2008 resolutions to Ministry Lyle Stewart in a letter dated May 15, 2008.
In his June 6, 2008, reply to the Chamber, Stewart said “The Government of Saskatchewan is actively looking into opportunities that the province can pursue in the nuclear fuel cycle area which will allow us to add value to our vast uranium resources.”
“The Government of Saskatchewan intends to increase public knowledge in the areas of the nuclear fuel cycle to help dispel any myths or concerns that are a result of a lack of credible information. Topics will include those that you have mentioned such as possible nuclear projects, safety, environmental impacts and economic feasibility. As well, the identification of barriers to development and recommendations for their removal will be a priority for government officials. This may include regulatory, infrastructure related or investment related topics.”
It would seem that Stewart considers the opinions of people opposed to nuclear development not credible. This does not bode well for any public consultation process that the government might conduct in the future.
3) Jim Hallick is vice president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and a Councillor for the RM of Keys
At its 2004 Annual Convention SARM passed a resolution that leaves little doubt as to where it stands on the nuclear issue:
Nuclear Power Plant
Category: Matters Pertaining to SARM
Resolution Number: POP7-04A
Point of Privilege Resolution No. 7-04A
WHEREAS, SARM has supported the development of the nuclear industry in
WHEREAS, SARM passed a resolution at the 2004 Annual Convention asking the SARM Board to put together a blueprint for economic development; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the SARM Board work with Atomic Energy of Canada and the uranium industry of Saskatchewan to construct a state of the art nuclear powered power plant to demonstrate to the rest of the world that this is a safe and reliable technology.
4) Jerry Grandey, the president and CEO of Cameco Corporation, the world’s largest publicly traded uranium producer headquartered in
Cameco is the Saskatchewan Party’s fourth biggest contributor in the energy industry. Since 1999 is has donated approximately $44,467.30 to the party.
Grandey was the keynote speaker on May 8, 2008, at the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce annual meeting in Humboldt. Coincidently, Premier Brad Wall and seven of his cabinet ministers also attended the event.
Cameco owns 31.6 per cent of Bruce Power LP, which operates six reactors in
“I would be the last one to discourage such long-term visions for this province,” he said, noting he has always encouraged the possibility of nuclear power as a clean option for Western Canada, including
“These are long-term propositions. . . . They will not happen overnight,” he said. “We can’t let blue sky thinking detract us from what we have today.
“Uranium mining is
5) Allan Earle is President of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and Mayor of the Town of Dalmeny
SUMA held its 2006 convention at the Queensbury Convention Centre in
The following is from the Resolution Decisions from the 2006 SUMA Convention: Dawning of a New Direction:
22. Exploring Enhanced Uranium Refining in
Whereas world demand for electricity is growing and nuclear power produces virtually no emissions of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, nor does it produce any sulphur dioxide or nitrous oxides – the emissions that pollute the air and cause smog and acid rain; and
Whereas there are 440 nuclear power plants in over 30 countries supplying about 16% of the world’s electric power and in 2004 world nuclear power generation grew almost 4% from the year before; and
Whereas in the coming years,
Whereas the development of the uranium industry in
Whereas more than 80% of Saskatchewan residents are in favor of considering activities that add value to the uranium produced in the province by further preparing it for use in nuclear reactors to generate electricity; and
Whereas there is need for open dialogue and communication with the people of
Therefore be it resolved that SUMA ask the Provincial Government to create a venue to explore the possibility of enhanced uranium refining in Saskatchewan to inform residents about future opportunities, debate the issues associated with the nuclear industry, and identify the economic, environmental and social impacts as they relate to enhanced uranium refining.
Background Information (provided by SUMA): Over 200 registrants attended the Exploring Saskatchewan’s Nuclear Future Conference jointly organized by SUMA, SARM and the
6) Duncan Hawthorne, the president and CEO of Bruce Power Inc.
Bruce Power is a partnership among Cameco Corporation, TransCanada Corporation, BPC Generation Infrastructure Trust, a trust established by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, the Power Workers’
In a feel good announcement on June 17, 2008, in
Bruce Power intends to begin its analysis this summer and issue a report by the end of the year.
“The reality of climate change is upon us and the government clearly understands the need to consider all options if we are to tackle one of society’s most pressing issues,”
In the article Wall says gov’t will explore nuclear power plant possibility (Leader-Post, June 18, 2008), the premier said the government would be “foolish” not to explore the possibility of a privately operated nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan.
But Wall pledged that all public opinion on the issue will be heard. This was long before the announcement on Oct. 20, 2008, however, when it was learned that public consultation would not take place until after the Bruce Power study and Uranium Development Partnership report are completed. In the end it seems a moot point because Saskatchewan Party policy already states that it supports expansion of the uranium industry and will support the private sector construction and operation of a uranium refining facility in
On Aug. 6, 2008, Bruce Power issued a Saskatchewan 2020 Update revealing a poll conducted on its behalf showing that “a majority of Saskatchewan residents support nuclear power and are second only to Ontario in their backing of the technology.”
In July, Bruce Power retained POLLARA Research and Communications, a public opinion research firm, to survey more than 800
The company found that 52 per cent of
“We view this finding as significant because the province currently does not have any nuclear generation and the industry has not yet had an opportunity to fully communicate the facts about the safe, reliable and affordable nature of next generation nuclear,” the news release said.
“The top five reasons for opposing nuclear include concerns such as: safety, environmental impacts, health, waste and a general opposition to the technology. These are all very legitimate issues at this stage in the discussion.”
“Our experience indicates that the more information people have about nuclear energy and, specifically, Bruce Power’s record as an all-Canadian company, the greater level of comfort they will develop in a number of these areas. In fact, at this early stage, it is not surprising people in
So it would appear that as far as Bruce Power is concerned the public’s concerns are only legitimate “at this stage,” but once the company gets its propaganda machine going and has had the opportunity to “fully communicate the facts” those concerns will disappear and people will have a “greater level of comfort” with a nuclear future.
Interestingly, The StarPhoenix noted that “Bruce Power didn’t release the wording of the questions asked by Pollara Research and Communications or a detailed breakdown of how people answered, instead highlighting some findings in a four-page update made available online.” [
No one seemed to challenge Bruce Power on that though.
7) Armand Laferrere, the president and CEO of AREVA
AREVA Resources Canada Inc. (formerly COGEMA Resources Inc.) is a contributor to the Saskatchewan Party. Since 1999 the company has donated approximately $21,801.83 to the party.
In Sept. 2007, Laferrere told StarPhoenix reporter Cassandra Kyle that when the opportunity arises, he would like to see an Areva reactor in
In June 2008, Laferrere said the company’s existing presence in
“Lots of markets are opening up to nuclear, or thinking about it, and so it’s a good time to be in this industry,” said Laferrere, who made the comments in the wake of an announcement by Ontario-based Bruce Power that it will conduct a feasibility study into the potential for nuclear power in Saskatchewan.
Laferrere said Areva, which has a number of reactors worldwide but currently none in
8) Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, former President of Greenpeace
As part of the environmental movement of the ‘70s,
“How ridiculous is it for a province that supplies uranium to 441 nuclear plants around the world to have an anti-nuclear policy at home?” he said. “If you want to reduce your own footprint to the Canadian average of 20 (tonnes per person, per year) you need a nuclear power plant.
“It doesn’t make much sense, you’re just sending your yellowcake away.” [
Earlier this summer Greenpeace said that
On Oct. 10, 2008, Greenpeace issued a statement saying that
“Patrick Moore promotes such anti-environmental positions as clearcut logging, nuclear power, farmed salmon, PVC (vinyl) production, genetically engineered crops, and mining. Clients for his consulting services are a veritable Who’s Who of companies that Greenpeace has exposed for environmental misdeeds, including Monsanto, Weyerhaeuser, and BHP Minerals.”
Greenpeace said that “the media – especially conservative media – give him a platform for his views, and often do so without mentioning the fact that he is a paid spokesperson for polluting companies.”
9) Alex Pourbaix, the president – Energy, TransCanada Corporation.
TransCanada PipeLines Limited of
TransCanada holds a 31.6 per cent interest in Bruce Power LP.
On Nov. 23, 2007, The Globe and Mail’s David Ebner reported that Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s recently elected premier and leader of the conservative Saskatchewan Party, said in May that his government would provide incentives to push uranium refining and a possible nuclear power plant in the province, doing the so-called value-added work in Saskatchewan rather than shipping away raw resources.
On Nov. 21, 2007, Hal Kvisle, CEO of TransCanada Corp., said nuclear in
On Apr. 25, 2008, Calgary Herald’s Jon Harding reported that Bruce Power LP, the only private operator of nuclear plants in Canada, will be “encouraged” by its majority owner TransCanada Corp. to look at a variety of locations -- including Saskatchewan -- as it searches for a site to build Western Canada’s first commercial nuclear plant.
There “may be better places to go other than
Kvisle said while TransCanada supports Bruce Power’s nuclear pursuits in [
With 9 out of 12 members and all the heavy-hitters seemingly on board it doesn’t appear that the Saskatchewan Party government will have much opposition.
All that’s left is Richard Florizone of the University of
It’s unclear where the IBEW stands on the issue. The Uranium/Nuclear debate is a complex and delicate matter for the labour movement. Many members are opposed to uranium mining and nuclear energy while others are supportive, primarily because they work in the industry in some way. Given the despicable treatment that labour has received from the Saskatchewan Party government during its first year in power it might not matter anyway. The government likely just wants to be able to say they were consulted.
As for the two universities both are contributors to the Saskatchewan Party, more so it seems than to the Saskatchewan NDP, with the U of S donating $9,005.44 since 2002 and the U of R at $8,697.20 since 2001. In the absence of definitive statements by their respective presidents it’s difficult to determine for certain on which side of the fence each sit. Although, with the U of R’s involvement in the Western Nuclear Energy Research Group Inc., which the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce supports, and the nuclear forum it co-organized with SUMA and SARM in January 2006, it could very well be that the U of R is the No. 10 pro-development member on the Uranium Development Partnership. At any rate, the fix seems to be clearly in with this group. The Wall government has made damn sure of that.