I heard the incoming premier of Ontario this morning telling representatives of the province’s South Asian community about her desire for stronger economic connections between Ontario and South Asia. That is encouraging to me: Canada has recently “re-normalized” nuclear trade with India, the biggest South Asian economy, after three decades of petulantly cold-shouldering that country over strategic choices it was forced to make in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a very strong connection between the civilian nuclear sectors in India and Ontario. Ontario was, as I have said, the proving ground for the CANDU reactors that were at eight a.m. this morning generating 9,710 megawatts of carbon-free electricity in this province. The first exports of CANDUs were to South Asia: several to India, in the late 1960s and early 70s; one in 1972 to Pakistan. Because of those exports, and the collaborative exchange of human resources and knowledge that accompanied them, most of India’s domestic nuclear power reactors are either CANDUs or based on CANDUs.
The incoming premier has several decisions to make regarding Ontario CANDUs, which as mentioned are by far Ontario’s most important energy source. These decisions relate to a life extension at the Pickering B generating station east of Toronto, and the refurbishment of the Darlington station east of Oshawa. Both projects are vital for ensuring Ontario has enough cheap, clean power to function as a modern industrial jurisdiction. And both are major jobs magnets: the recently completed Bruce A restart employed well over 3,000 high skilled, high paid workers, and injected huge economic stimulus into the area around the plant. At its height, it was by far the biggest infrastructure project in the country.
The Pickering and Darlington projects will be the same.
And, apropos of premier-designate Wynne’s outreach to the South Asian community, there are breathtaking opportunities for nuclear trade between Ontario-based companies and India. Ontario’s long-term energy plan calls for 2,000 megawatts of new nuclear capacity. If that capacity were to be based on the CANDU EC6, then Ontario could re-open a major new export industry, with South Asia being a huge new market.
As I said last week, the stroke of a pen could make this so.