power players

The story of Ontario’s nuclear power engineers and what happened to them after being laid off in the early 1980s

Note: This is probably part fiction, part truth. I wrote this back in October 2012 after an interesting conversation with someone who knows something about the subject. I was fascinated with the idea.

Once upon a time not so long ago the future for nuclear power looked radioactively bright in Ontario.

Then something happened: in the late seventies and early eighties or circa that period, the (presumably Liberal?!) government decided to shut down the nuclear programme for some reason.

The big nuclear power companies had at that time in their employment many young – predominantly male – nuclear engineers. Now to be unemployed young, predominantly male, engineers. This concentrated nucleus of young people who had not too long ago had a bright career path ahead of them were laid off and dispersed in the province, like a drop of ink in a well. In this well was large hydro, which soon enough absorbed these engineers into their fold.

And like a drop of ink in a well, we soon lost track of the tendrils of blackness that seeped through the clean water.

Fast forward thirty years. The young men with the dashed futures of yore are now in their late fifties, at the peak of their career, in upper management, filling most of the most powerful positions in Ontario’s energy companies.

And they are bitter.

These bitter old (white) men are dispersed like a plague, unable to be quarantined, spreading their diseased pro-nuclear, anti-renewable bitterness in their considerably wide and well-connected networks in society.

Spreading their false information.

I’ve run out of both facts and metaphors, so I will stop writing now.

But you should ask yourself, as I was recently asked to ask myself, this: do you know an old man in Ontario who not only dismisses renewable energy development but actively works to prevent renewables from powering our future? Was he trained as an engineer?

I don’t know what to do about this besides waiting for their reign to end. But they are poisoning the well from which our young drink.

And this may a slightly off-topic leap, but as many of Canada’s problems stem from old thinking and old ways of doing things, and as the CPC and LPC represent old politics, I want to see some new blood in parliament.

How amazing is it that there is a 19-year-old NDP MP?

To unseat the old parties and old habits a proportionally representative parliament is needed.

To achieve this we need a more proportional electoral system. Single-member plurality is an antiquity that Canada has stubbornly and stupidly held on to. To all our detriment.

I am twenty-four years old now and I want to see electoral reform before I reach the big three-zero.

No, scratch that, here’s a better dream: I want to be a part of electoral reform.

I want to help reform the electoral system in Canada.

And to do that I need to be back in the country that I love to the point of heartache.

Damn. I was hoping to stay in Germany for a little longer…

Dear lord! I could tie any topic back to Canadian electoral dysfunction.

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