Canadian Nuclear Energy Policy: Changing Ideas, Institutions, and Interests


220 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-8020-4788-2
DDC 333.792'4'0971




Edited by G. Bruce Doern, Arslan Dorman, and Robert W. Morrison
Reviewed by Richard G. Kuhn

Richard G. Kuhn is an associate professor of geography at the University
of Guelph.


Nuclear power provides just over 10 percent of Canada’s electricity,
the vast majority produced in the Province of Ontario. For nuclear
energy, once touted as “the fuel of the future,” the heady days of
rapid nuclear expansion are over, at least for now. As many countries
decide on their energy future, the role that nuclear energy will play
is, in the editors’ word, “precarious.” This reflects the
perception that for Canada, the role of nuclear energy is currently
undecided. Some analysts argue that nuclear energy can and should play a
major role, particularly in the context of global climate change. Other
analysts maintain that, both environmentally and economically, nuclear
energy is questionable. Problems related to waste disposal, reactor
decommissioning, and cost efficiency are used as evidence to support
this latter view.

This book fills a niche by providing an overview of the management of
nuclear energy in Canada. Specifically, the book examines how Canadian
nuclear policy has been influenced by changing ideas, institutions, and
interests. Five key policy questions faced by the federal government and
Ontario are specifically singled out: who will pay for nuclear fuel
waste management and research, how will the industry be regulated, what
are the prospects for marketing the CANDU reactor at home and abroad,
the role of federal-provincial cooperation, and the nuclear industry and
the public. Individual chapters focus on the regulation of the nuclear
industry, nuclear waste policy (unfortunately just prior to the recent
passing of federal nuclear fuel waste legislation), deregulation, and
the role of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, among other topics.

While the book for the most part fulfils the objectives it sets, some
readers may be disappointed with the absence of a critical stance.
Indeed, in the concluding chapter we are informed that the editors did
not offer an overall view of the “precarious balance” thesis alluded
to above. Instead, they maintain that we need to renew institutions
based on trust and transparency in the field of nuclear energy policy.
This book will appeal to those with some familiarity and interest in
Canadian energy policy. It is well researched and clearly written.


“Canadian Nuclear Energy Policy: Changing Ideas, Institutions, and Interests,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,