Ado in Saskatoon

Some Senators at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon want the Chair of the Board of Governors to resign. She serves on the Board of the nuclear giant, Cameco.

The senators also say lawyer Nancy Hopkins’s position as a board member for Cameco Corp. puts her in a conflict of interest chairing a search committee for a new university president.

In a letter sent to the university’s secretary and board vice-chair earlier this year, environmental lawyer and senator Stefania Fortugno points to equity Hopkins has at stake that rides on Cameco’s performance. Fortugno questions whether Hopkins’s role is connected to the university’s increasing focus on nuclear research.

“Any time that the University of Saskatchewan enlarges the role of the nuclear sciences on campus, through the appointment of faculty chairs, or establishing a new $30-million nuclear research centre and allocates scarce educational resources to the same, the share prices of Cameco Corporation correspondingly increase,” the letter says.

Cameco is everywhere in Saskatoon; it’s frightening. I’m with the Senators on this one.

Nuking it up in SK

Well, well, well, aren’t we just the hub of nuke activity here in the gap!  Bruce Power‘s all set to give us a nuker.

Bruce Power, the private operator of nuclear plants in Ontario, is on track to complete its feasibility study on nuclear power in Saskatchewan by the end of this year, Hawthorne said. The company announced it would embark on the study in June.

“We will make those findings open and transparent to the public”

Areva’s meeting with folks in Saskatoon.

AREVA Public Information Meeting

Nov. 27th, 7:30 pm, Hilton Garden InnThere will be a public information meeting hosted by AREVA Resources Canada Inc. (the nuclear industry) in the Estevan Room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

At 7:30 pm, there will be a presentation on AREVA’s present and upcoming activities, followed by the opportunity to ask questions and talk about their projects. There will also be information displays where people can discuss issues one on one.

And little Braddy Wall-mart has set up a nukers’ play group.

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:

Nothing but fun, fun, fun in this nuclear winter playground!

cameco-dig-your-own-grave

Saskatoon newspaper pulls in a ringer to smooth it over

Apparently, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix has experienced a bit of grief over their nasty editorial of May 8. They’ve pulled in a ringer, Murray Mandryk, from their sister paper, the Regina Leader-Post, to quell the fires. Here’s his piece, reproduced in its entirety here because it is a voice of reason. That said, his focus is too narrow. We need an open, honest and thorough debate about Saskatchewan’s energy policy, not just about nukes.

Neither party fit to oversee reactor
Murray Mandryk, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post
Published: Friday, May 09, 2008

If ever an issue in Saskatchewan needed open, honest and thorough debate, it’s the building of a nuclear reactor.

That neither side in the legislative assembly has been willing to provide us with the even the most basic information about the reactor — information already compiled at the taxpayers’ expense — is more disconcerting than talk of a reactor, itself.

This issue is all about trust. It’s about answering basic questions such as: Where will it be built? Who will build it? How much will it cost taxpayers? What are the potential environmental impacts? What are the benefits? What are the potential risks, especially to the water supply?

Instead, what we have had is duplicity and deception from the NDP and Saskatchewan Party both.

Let’s review what neither side wanted us to know:

The NDP government received in February 2007 a rudimentary study that determined the preferred location for a nuclear power plant is the east side of Diefenbaker Lake, near Elbow. The negatives are its proximity to populated areas and fact that the lake provides the water used by 40 per cent of Saskatchewan households.

But what’s alarming about this 53-page, $60,000 study is that, until a copy of the report was leaked to the CBC, the former New Democratic government didn’t think we needed to know about it. In fact, it wouldn’t even confirm in its last eight months in office that such a study existed.

According to former premier Lorne Calvert, there was no need to do so because his government was focused on wind power and had no intention of building a reactor. Yet deputy NDP leader and former Crown corporations minister Pat Atkinson, who admitted Wednesday she hadn’t even read the study, said her government actually never had ruled out building a nuclear power plant.

As farfetched as her response seems, it is consistent with the words of former deputy premier Clay Serby, who said in October 2005:

“We should never say never about anything.”

But lest anyone is left with the impression that secrecy and duplicity begin and end with the New Democrats, let’s check the Saskatchewan Party’s equally unimpressive handling of the nuclear file to date.

Despite an initial commitment from Premier Brad Wall that any previous studies on nuclear power generation would be made public, the government no longer sees it as a priority to tell us that the preferred site to build a nuclear plant is one that provides water for 40 per cent of province’s population. Far more important, we’re told, are the confidentiality agreements signed by the NDP government to keep this report secret in the first place.

However, the confidentiality provision didn’t apply to Saskatchewan Party ministers such as Lyle Stewart (Enterprise and Innovation), Nancy Heppner (Environment) and Bill Boyd (Energy), all of whom had access to this document for the past six months.

Unfortunately, like Atkinson, they never read it, either. Heppner even claimed she couldn’t find a copy. Let’s be thankful someone found one for the CBC.

Through the magic of this newfangled Internet, the report now can be shared with Atkinson, Heppner, Boyd and even the rest of us among the uninformed masses.

Of course, his complete lack of basic information about a site for nuclear power generation was not the kind of impediment that would prevent Boyd from meeting in Alberta with officials from Bruce Power to make a case that Saskatchewan is a better home for a 4,000-megawatt nuclear plant than is Alberta’s Peace River region.

Boyd tells us not to be alarmed because these discussions are exceedingly preliminary. But Crowns Minister Ken Cheveldayoff then tells us Thursday there isn’t time to hold a referendum on nuclear power because his government will have to make a decision before the next election, slated for 2011.

Through all of this, we’re still supposed to trust the good judgment of these people — politicians who don’t think voters need to have the most basic information on nuclear power in Saskatchewan or even feel any need to read this information themselves.

Far more frightening than a nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan is the thought of either side of the legislature being in charge of running it.

So much for journalistic integrity…

The editorial board at the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, a CanWest newspaper, published nothing less than a rant on the issue of nuclear power in Saskatchewan, denouncing nuclear-free activists as an “anti-nuke gang,” a “bunch of radicals” who prevented the “dream of developing greater nuclear capacity in the province” from coming to fruition in the 1980’s.

Well, yes, frankly, it is true that the no-nukers did stop the development of a refinery just south of Saskatoon back then. And thank goodness for that! But they didn’t manage to stop the mining of uranium. And they surely did not stop industry from propagandizing throughout the province. In fact, they’ve done it so well that even the daily newspaper is singing the praises of nuclear power, quoting political deviants and corporate friends. Go ahead and read it for yourself.

Then go here and send your letter to the editor. If you need more information about uranium and the nuclear system, feel free to use the search function in the sidebar of P’n’P. We’ve managed to build up quite a collection of info from independent researchers, organizations and informed opinions over our almost two years of blogging.

Oh, and if you’d like a more balanced, though still not thorough, story about the possible reactor check out the CBC’s coverage. It’s report provides various reactions from people who live and vacation at Lake Diefenbaker, where the SaskPower study suggests the reactor might be placed.

The recommendation alarms people like Scott McKenzie, who has been vacationing in the Lake Diefenbaker area for seven years and plans to make it his home.

“It shocks me a little to begin with,” McKenzie said. “One is always worried about a catastrophe, an accident or something like that.”

However, Russ Boyle, who is building a house near the lake, doesn’t share McKenzie’s concerns. In fact, he wouldn’t mind if a nuclear facility was nearby.

I’d venture a guess that if the truth about nuclear power were placed in the hands of the people, there would be no doubt that the majority would oppose it.

I guess that’s what we’ll have to do.

Warped Priorities in SK

So, get a load of this can of shite!

Premier Brad Wall has pulled $7 million in funding for an excellent, community-based project, Station20 West, a project that has the support of the City of Saskatoon, the University of Saskatchewan, the United Way and numerous other community groups and citizens.

But isn’t it interesting that Premier Brad Wall found something like $6 million for Enterprise Saskatchewan, one of his pet projects, which is the privatization of economic decision-making in SK.  FYI, the SK budget estimates are here.

Do the Irish know what Port Hope is learning?

There’s a wise man in Ireland saying no to uranium.  And it’s not just uranium he’s saying no to.  He’s saying no to even prospecting for uranium.  That man is the Natural Resources and Energy Minister, Eamon Ryan. From the  Irish Examiner

[He] announced that he had declined to grant prospecting licences to two companies seeking to explore for uranium in Donegal.

He later told the Irish Examiner that while prospecting does not involve significant activity, if that process were allowed it would have to follow logically that mining licences would then have to be issued. 

“A prospecting licence is the first step in the mining process. Granting a licence carries an implicit policy agreement permitting its extraction should a viable prospect be discovered. This is where my concern lies,” he said.

Pointing out that the likely end use of uranium mined in Ireland would be in a nuclear power plan, he said it would be “hypocritical” of him to permit the mining of uranium while campaigning against the use of the same ore.

He said that there are also significant environmental and public health concerns surrounding uranium mining.

Perhaps it’s that he’s caught wind of what the residents of Port Hope, ON have learned:

An Ontario town is hopping mad that the federal government hasn’t done enough to ensure that the whole place isn’t contaminated from long-term exposure to uranium.

The folks in Port Hope held a press conference Monday to air their grievances, you can read the full story here, but the key part is this:

A recent study by the Uranium Medical Research Centre, a non-profit, voluntary organization that her group hired to conduct local testing, showed evidence of serious problems. For instance, one child from the community had uranium levels in its body that were three times the concentration that would normally be expected. An earlier study showed the town had higher than normal rates of some cancers.

The citizen’s group has a website, here, which gives you a better picture of their position on all this.

The source of uranium is Cameco Corp.

Cameco?  That responsible, corporate citizen of the globe, harming children?

Yes, that’s the one, headquartered in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, sharing smitterings of profit here and there to endear itself to the community.

What was that line from the 80’s?  Oh, ya.  Like, gag me with a spoon!

Premiers McGuinty and Wall and Prime Minister Harper ought to take a trip to Ireland and have a little talk with Mr. Eamon Ryan.  Perhaps they could learn a thing or two!

Joya on Women in Afghanistan

From Malalai Joya, on Afghanistan, in Q&A: “When I Leave My House, Im Not Sure Ill Make It Back”:

IPS: What has changed since Canada’s increased role in Afghanistan?

MJ: It is shocking news, a catastrophic situation for women in our country. I moved back to Afghanistan to be a social activist on women’s issues. Many women have been kidnapped, many are raped, according to official statements, there have been 250 cases of rape in the west of Afghanistan in the first six months of 2007. Every 28 minutes, an Afghani woman dies from childbirth. The conditions are worse than ever for women. 

And let us remember to remind Premier-elect, Brad Wall, that Saskatchewan’s uranium made its way there, too.

SK Universities Attack Workers’ Rights

The academic communities at Saskatchewan’s two universities have started a petition to their Boards of Governors demanding that the Governors instruct their negotiating committee to return, “in good faith,” to the table with their support workers. The CUPE 1975 workers set up picket lines on both the Regina and Saskatoon campuses after mediator Doug Forseth said the sides were too far apart. CUPE says,

CUPE 1975 members prepare for job action – Conciliation
talks fail to produce contract settlement

October 30, 2007 05:44 PMSASKATOON/ REGINA: Conciliation talks involving CUPE 1975 members at the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan broke-off last night after the employer rejected the union’s proposed offer of settlement.* The union served the employer with the required 48-hour strike notice this afternoon.

“We’re very disappointed conciliation talks failed to resolve this contract dispute,” says Brad McKaig, chair of the union’s negotiating committee. “Our union negotiating committee made significant movement on virtually every issue on the table, including monetary items, in an effort to conclude a collective agreement, but at the end of the day talks broke down over the major issues of benefits, performance reviews and wages.”

The U of S says,

CUPE Rejects University of Saskatchewan’s Final Offer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 26, 2007
2007-10-09-OTHER

Conciliation talks ended last night as CUPE 1975 rejected the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) final offer. Government’s conciliator, Doug Forseth adjourned the process in view of the Union’s lack of movement on the remaining issues.

The University offered a 17% wage increase over three years, which included wage, pension and benefit increases.

To which the CUPE workers have responded, one worker asking, “Was your calculator plugged in?”

The broader academic community has begun a petition drive demanding the Board of Governors insist its negotiating committee go back to the table “in good faith.”

The rampant right wing administration stomps on its lowest-paid workers, the ones who clean up the shit, and takes a 10% pay hike for itself.

It’s a sign of the times, isn’t it?

Canada’s Deadly Secret

Finally, the true story of Saskatchewan’s uranium will be out there for all to read, thanks to dedicated no-nukes activist, Jim Harding. Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, has been a long time coming and chronicles 30 years of intense struggle. It comes at a time when the nuclear industry is trying to make a comeback: a uranium refinery proposed for SK, nuclear plants for the AB oilfields, and Bush’s global nuclear pact which would force us to accept nuclear wastes from abroad.

Helen Caldicott, who wrote the Foreward to Jim’s book, says,

“Harding exposes the role the government played in perpetuating nuclear propaganda through the disinformation of campaigns of its covert Uranium Secretariat and penetration of the public education curriculum…He also explores the deadly corporate planning processes that reveal the growing partnership between the oil and nuclear industries.” Harding “unveils the dark side of nuclear politics in his home province, which bears the distinction of of being the largest uranium-producing region in the world and he challenges us to explore how Canada has consistently been complicit and instrumental in the expansion of the global nuclear system.”

Jim is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies. He is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society and International Uranium Congress and was director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina, where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project. Jim also acted as Prairie Corresponent for Nuclear Free Press and consultant to the NFB award-winning film Uranium.

Fernwood, a non-profit publisher, cannot compete with the nuclear industry’s expensive PR, but we can build grass-roots networks here and abroad to counter the pro-nuke propaganda. If you can help to organize a reading in your area, post here, and I’ll let Jim know.

Upcoming SK Book Launches

1. Sat. Sept. 29th, PCTC, Fort Qu’Appelle, 7:00 p.m. (as part of the KAIROS Prairie Conference).

2. Tuesday Oct. 16th, McNally Saskatoon Bookstore, 7 p.m.

3. Sun. Oct. 28th, Regina Exchange, 7 p.m. (as part of a Non-Nuclear Benefit).

4. Sun. Nov. 11th, Regina Unitarian Hall, morning service (still to be confirmed).

New job for former Liberal MP

So, get a load of this! The former Liberal MP for Desenthe-Missinippi-Churchill in northern SK, Gary Merasty, whose resignation took effect this past Tuesday, is a new VP at the multinational uranium giant based in Saskatoon. Yes, that’s right! CAMECO scooped him from federal politics into nuclear politics. The Star-Kleenex reports:

Cameco Corp. says Gary Merasty is well-suited to take on the uranium company’s newly created position of vice-president of corporate social responsibility because of his past experiences in First Nations and federal politics.

I think this could really be interpreted to read something like,

CAMECO Corp. needs a face that will make them look good, especially in the First Nations’ communities whose lands and lives are being devastated by uranium mining in northern Saskatchewan. And it’d be helpful if this person had some political connections, too.  Mr. Merasty fits the bill.

Gary Merasty:  willing participant in the promotion of ecological racism.  (For an excellent discussion of environmental justice, including ecological racism, read this.)