Bruce Power setting a good example to world, says Chrétien


By Barb McKay


Former prime minister Jean Chrétien was in Kincardine last week to support Bruce Power as it marked the completion of a rigorous safety review.



Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, left, with Saugeen First Nation Chief Vernon Roote and Bruce Power president and CEO Duncan Hawthorne. (Barb McKay photo)



Chrétien, whose political career spanned 40 years including 10 as prime minister from 1993 to 2003, is a vocal advocate of the nuclear industry. He was invited to attend a special function held at the Kincardine Pavilion last Wednesday as Bruce Power celebrated the completion of the two-week-long Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) Mission.


The safety review focused on safety performance at Bruce B, using International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) safety standards and involved IAEA experts from around the world. The final report will be provided to Bruce Power early in 2016 and will be made public in approximately two months.


Bruce Power president and CEO Duncan Hawthorne said he was pleased that Chrétien was there to mark the occasion.


“He is someone who is a widely respected Canadian leader and he has long been an advocate for the nuclear industry. Arguably, the reason there are CANDU plants in parts of the world today is because of his leadership when he was prime minister and he continues to be a knowledgeable advocate for the industry today, so I’m really pleased he took the time to come here tonight.”


Prior to the event, Chrétien took at tour of the Bruce Power plant and said he was impressed with what he saw.


“There are myths about the danger (of nuclear) and I wanted to be as close as possible to the ‘danger’. I almost dived into the swimming pool,” he said with a chuckle. “It is quite safe and I think the technology has always been very good...If it is well-managed, like it is managed here, it is not dangerous.”


Chrétien said his first ‘Team Canada’ trade mission to China back in 1994 was to sell the country two CANDU nuclear reactors, which he said are still considered the best reactors in China today. He said there are opportunities that Canada should be capitalizing on.


Canada could export power, because one of the great advantages of the CANDU reactors is you can use the used fuel of the other reactors to make them less dangerous and generate more energy.”


He said the challenge has always been the cost involved in maintaining nuclear generators.


“But I’m still a fan and I like to help out if I can. The restarting of the generators has always been a great success.”


He touted the positive impact nuclear has had in allowing Ontario to eliminate coal as an energy source.


Ontario is an example. They have dropped the coal, they have restarted the reactors, they use electric power. You have become one of the best places in terms of producing electricity without any pollution and this organization is a big part of that.”


Chrétien spoke enthusiastically and openly to Bruce Power staff and guests who gathered for the dinner event last week. He said the one thing he misses about serving in government was the question period, and invited guests to ask him any question they liked. He spoke about his humble beginnings as a Liberal Member of Parliament in Quebec, when he could not speak a word of English. He rose through the ranks under former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and held several cabinet positions including Minister of Justice and Minister of Energy.


Chrétien said no amount of training and education can lead someone to become a good prime minister.


“Politics is not a science, politics is an art,” he said.


He said he supported Prime Minister Justin Trudeau through his campaign because he believes he is ready to take on the leadership role. Chrétien said Trudeau learned a lot from his father, who would talk politics and global affairs at the dinner table, rather than hockey.


“His father was a better teacher than any political science teacher.”


Margaret Trudeau’s father was also very political and Chrétien said Justin Trudeau shares many of his traits.


“He was very easy going, very comfortable with people, like Justin. Does he have good judgment? We’ll see. I think he has good judgment and he has the background and he has the mentality.”