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The Canadian Nuclear FAQ  

by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock


To CBC Ideas (Radio One, 9:00 pm, M-F):

January 9, 1998

To the Producer, CBC "Ideas":

Regarding the series on Nuclear Power this week (98/01/05 to 98/01/08), IDEAS seems to have retreated from its goal of exploring the "road less trodden", and marched proudly down the centre lane of public perception. Furthermore, it was used as a vehicle for special-interest propaganda, since the interviews with Norm Rubin of Energy Probe, of which IDEAS producer is a Director, were essentially a case of that well-known anti-nuclear group interviewing itself.

The show ignored the most basic tenet of rational thought by only giving time to one side of this important issue. In Episode three (98/01/08), for instance, the show asserts with impunity that CANDU reactors, having corporate links to a war-time bomb-producing reactor design, is capable of supporting a national nuclear weapons programme. Since the links are historical and not technical, this assertion is patently false, but the show did not stop to probe this damning accusation any further.

Instead, it left the listener with the biased remarks of Norm Rubin, a full-time employee of one of this country's largest anti-nuclear groups (Energy Probe), and accorded him undue credibility by introducing him simply as a member of a "national energy think tank". Energy Probe is no closer to an energy think tank than Ontario Hydro or AECL is.

In fact, the quote from an "AECL president", regarding Canada's lack of involvement with nuclear weapons, was quite true. The show's subsequent reference to Canada's plutonium-producing activities in the 1950's are made irrelevant by the later policy decision of the Canadian government to disassociate with nuclear weapons. IDEAS did not mention this important explanatory point, nor, I would guess, would they even be aware of it if the producers hadn't explored the point further in their research.

It was disappointing to see a forum normally dedicated to eclectic thought, act so narrow-mindedly and -- because of the producer's ulterior motives -- self-servingly. Shame on the CBC.

Jeremy Whitlock

[Response from CBC Radio]

[My follow-up to CBC Radio's response]