Thursday, October 15, 2009

AECL privatization rolling along?

Well, that was quick. In the wake of the news of government commissioned public opinion research demonstrating the public is overwhelmingly against privatization of the Crown nuclear agency, Atomic Energy Canada Limited, the government is signalling it is getting ready to act. A report appeared yesterday: "AECL sale could be 'death knell' for CANDU reactors."
The federal government is preparing to unveil recommendations on how to restructure Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and several foreign and domestic players in the nuclear industry are positioning themselves to make a bid for AECL's assets.
As the headline suggests, there is thinking that if AECL were sold, particularly to a foreign nuclear firm with its own proprietary technology, the Canadian CANDU technology may become secondary to their own. That could be a sensitive political and economic issue in Canada although the government seems to have sat on its hands with Nortel to little political consequence. To date, that is. A narrative of delinquency in standing up for Canadian owned high tech industries could yet come back to haunt this government.

So whether privatization of AECL will play differently given the sensitivities of the nuclear issue, remains to be seen. The public opinion research seems to suggest it might.