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Nuclear Power and Partnership with India

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 @ 05:11 PM

His Excellency Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam visited Canada on a remarkable 4 day visit to Toronto and Vancouver to deliver a series of lectures on green energy and the green economy.  I was invited as a guest to a small gathering at the Albany Club in Toronto.

For those of us avid observers of politics, we know greatness is born from folklore and the test of time. But you have to step a back a bit from that kind of cynicism and ponder the greatness of President Kalam. Born in abject poverty in India, as a boy he would run outside under a street lamp to read books because he lived in a small home that had no electricity.  It was in this manner that he studied nuclear science and became one of the world’s foremost experts on the peaceful use of nuclear power.  His vision for energy use and its application globally prompted innovative thinking that could, in effect, harness the sun’s power to create energy for the world based on solar panels on the moon.  It is this kind of thinking, among his many other innovations, that have made him as powerful in the world of science as the Dalai Lama is to his faith.

Dr. Kalam is selling the concept of partnership in business with India, soon to be one of the world’s most dominant business partners.  With a hunger and need for about 30,000 megawatts of power in the coming decade, partnership is the only option for this emerging market.

Canada is a natural partner with India.  We have the Commonwealth to thank for that.

Dr. Kalam and I had a comprehensive discussion on nuclear energy.  Having been an executive at AECL at the beginning of this millennium, I know that Canada’s innovation in heavy water reactors and their ability to burn Thorium is well known to the energy starving India.  Exploiting CANDU technology in India is a role that the government of Canada can and should start to accelerate – the PM started this process at the G20 Summit.  However, at a recent event at my home with a senior Cabinet Minister in Harper’s government, I was advised that AECL will definitely be put on the blocks despite our attempts to stop that kind of madness.  Giving up on AECL, such as is being considered by the government and with no interest from an ineffective opposition on the matter in the House of Commons is one of the second greatest missed opportunities in Canada just behind the Avro Arrow.

The President was so keenly interested in the opportunity to discuss the use of Thorium and the possibility of recycling  spent nuclear fuel in reactors that he has invited me to India in 2011. I am taking him up on his offer.

I will report back on my return.

- Marc Kealey
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