The federal government will announce today a plan to seek buyers for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s nuclear reactor business, and bring in private-sector management for AECL’s problem-plagued Chalk River facility. After a two-year review of Ottawa’s flagship nuclear company, Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt will launch a sale process with the aim of finding a major international partner for AECL to help boost global sales of its Candu reactors.
This as the federal government looks to raise money from asset sales to reduce its soaring deficit. The effort is hampered by depressed real estate prices.
It is worth pointing out the review was undertaken by the National Bank of Canada which looked for buyers. Thus we see some standard Shock Doctrine, facts being fixed around a policy by complimentary ideologues leading to a privatisation in time of crisis-
The government’s decision to restructure AECL is its response to a report it commissioned from the National Bank of Canada last year to advise it on what, if anything, it ought to do with the Crown corporation. The bank advised that it should sell at least 51 per cent of AECL and encourage it to strike new deals with international players to help it make new sales in international markets. Government officials said National Bank found significant interest in buying a chunk of AECL although the bank’s discussions with potential buyers concluded in the first half of 2008. Government officials conceded that market interest may have withered because of the onset of the global recession.
Or put another way- the price will be low for the buyers they are lining up- expect some revolving door consultancies and directorships. As for the Tory Minister Lisa Raitt, she sued public groups to stifle their free speech when head of the Toronto Port Authority and celebrated how climate change would be good for Canada. The NRU unit at Chalk river that provides medical isotopes (one third of world supplies) will remain in government hands, it is currently shut down, leaks and is 51 years old. Thus liabilities remain on public hands even as they look to install a private sector manager for the plant, US style. A Canadian blogger writes–
Lisa Raitt’s Nuclear Yard Sale- My husband studied physics engineering at McMaster University, and worked at the accelerator lab there as a nuclear safety technician. So he knows his nukes.
He’s yelling at the TV right now.
Not surprising when-
Ottawa will continue to fund research to support AECL’s commercial business, and could be left with legacy costs from the firm’s need to deal with nuclear waste.
It’s a corporate neoliberal wet dream!