Canada was one of the first countries to adopt nuclear energy. It is the world’s largest supplier of natural uranium and a supplier of nuclear technology and expertise. However, recent announcements such as the Ontario government’s plans to postpone indefinitely the construction of two nuclear reactors at its Darlington facility, and the federal government’s intention to privatize Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the nuclear science and engineering company, raise questions about nuclear energy in Canada. This paper provides an analysis of the future of nuclear energy in Canada and the likely parameters of any revival. Findings include: • Canada has lost the domestic political consensus that made possible the original development of the CANDU reactor technology; • The Ontario decision to delay indefinitely its plans for the construction of new nuclear reactors is emblematic of this loss and indicative of the obstacles confronting the Canadian nuclear industry; • Fragmented federal-provincial energy policy jurisdictions and political gamesmanship result in domestic market inertia effectively thwarting any prospects for a Canadian nuclear revival; • Without a revival in the domestic market for nuclear energy, AECL is unlikely to be successful marketing and selling reactors internationally; • Privatization of AECL will do little to improve the company’s prospects and will mean the end of the CANDU reactor technology.

Part of Series

CIGI's Nuclear Energy Futures Papers present research commissioned by the Nuclear Energy Futures Project, which is examining the scope of the purported nuclear energy revival over the coming two decades and its implications for global governance. The papers are written by experts in nuclear energy or nuclear global governance.
  • John Cadham is an independent researcher, consultant and project facilitator, and an instructor in the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs at Carleton University.