NDP Introduces Bill to Eliminate Conflict of Interest Over CNSC

NDP Natural Resources Critic Press Release: Feb 14, 2008.

OTTAWA - NDP Natural Resources Critic Catherine Bell (Vancouver Island North) has tabled a bill to eliminate the ministerial conflict of interest over the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

"The Minister of Natural Resources has demonstrated that he cannot be trusted to balance nuclear safety with the promotion of the nuclear industry," said Bell.

Currently, the Minister of Natural Resources is responsible for overseeing both the Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL) and the CNSC. This puts the minister in a direct conflict of interest.

"How can we trust that the minister won't put the needs of the nuclear industry over the concerns of the safety regulator, especially after he fired Ms. Linda Keen over the shutdown at Chalk River?"

Bell's bill would have the CNSC report to the Minister of the Environment rather than Natural Resources. "It's a simple but effective change," said Bell. "It provides more ministerial oversight to the nuclear industry in Canada and moves the CNSC into a ministry with a mandate more in line with its responsibility to protect human health and the environment."

Since the situation at Chalk River and the firing of Ms. Keen as President of the CNSC, groups such as Greenpeace, EcoJustice, and the Canadian Environmental Law Association have called "parliament to pass legislation to move oversight and ministerial responsibility for the CNSC to another department." Even Ms. Keen has suggested, at committee on January 31 that this has been a source of tension for some time.

Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility said to the Natural Resources Committee on February 5, that "unless this situation is rectified by having CNSC report to a different minister, I see little prospect for Canada to have a truly effective, independent nuclear regulatory agency."

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