A plebiscite on radioactive waste upstream?
I was impressed with Fred Ryan’s recent editorial linking the proposed Chalk River radioactive waste storage project with the unprecedented and catastrophic weather the Outaouais has been experiencing. Mr Ryan rightly asks why government is not applying the “Precautionary Principle” to this potentially dangerous “near surface storage facility” on the Ottawa River. The project would house millions of tonnes of nuclear waste upstream from 7 million Canadians. “The precautionary principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk.” That is the case with the Chalk River proposal. There are undeniable risks to human health and the environment.
Mr Ryan also asks “Why are our provincial and federal members of parliament so strangely silent on this file?” A comparison can be made to the precedent setting result of a plebiscite on hosting the winter olympics in Calgary. Three levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal, collectively pledged billions, that’s right billions of tax-payers’ dollars, to support a proposal to host the winter olympics. Elected members of Calgary’s municipal council recognize that the wishes of citizens matter and a plebiscite was held. The provincial government made it clear that it would not contribute to the project if the majority of citizens voted against hosting the olympics. That’s what happened. 56% of citizens who voted were opposed to hosting the winter olympics in Calgary. In the aftermath, Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi, who actively campaigned in favour of hosting the olympics said: “I take my direction from citizens. Clearly, the citizens thought this wasn’t the right project at this time.” Why is this not the case with regard to the proposed radioactive waste disposal site?
Do those whom we have elected agree with Mayor Nenshi’s view of an elected representative’s responsibility to their constituents? Why are they not our champions, protecting the environment and the population of the region from plausible risk? It would be good to hear from them on these pages as to whether or not they take “direction from citizens”.
And why not have a plebiscite on the proposed radioactive waste storage project?
Municipality of Pontiac