UPDATED: 2007-10-29 02:17:03 MST
OTTAWA — Last January, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn gave a speech to the Economic Club of Toronto in which he touted the virtues of nuclear energy, including a new breed of next-generation reactors.
“As a nation of energy consumers, we must be prepared to have an open discussion about nuclear power,” Lunn said.
That was then, this is now.
An open discussion appears to be the last thing the minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is prepared to have when it comes to an issue that, in Australia, is now being called the N-word.
That’s because a developing new international nuclear club re-opens the politically radioactive subjects of proliferation and nuclear waste.
More than a month after senior Canadian officials took part as observers in a Vienna meeting to discuss the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP, the Prime Minister’s Office is refusing to permit cabinet ministers to speak publicly about the U.S.-led initiative.
Requests for a media interview with Lunn were passed along, unanswered, to Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier. After checking with Harper’s PMO, Bernier’s office ended up issuing the following statement: “Canada has been invited to join this international partnership. The government is carefully considering this invitation before making a decision, which will be announced at a later date.”
It was a brush-off with all the subtlety of a palm held up to a camera lens.