So the Harper government has finally decided to officially put the commercial side of AECL up for sale.
This is a good move that actually has nothing to do with the sale of 'reactors' as the Toronto Star's headline would lead you to believe. And it has nothing to do with reactor safety as comments on other news sites would have you believe.
The nuclear power plants are owned by the utilities NB Power, Hydro-Quebec, OPG and Bruce Power. Selling AECL changes none of that.
Regulating the nuclear industry is the job of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Selling AECL won't change that either.
Chalk River is not even up for sale, it is going to remain in government hands while AECL is split into its research and commercial divisions.
So what does privatizing AECL do? It will remove the CANDU design of reactors from government hands and give it to some private company, perhaps a larger conglomerate which will be better able to market the reactor. Or perhaps someone will pick up the commercial side in order to gain the talent and sink the CANDU line of reactors altogether. Is either result a terrible thing? I don't think so. The CANDU reactor has its benefits but if the costs outweigh the benefits there is no reason to keep building them.
I'm not terribly sentimental or nationalistic about these things to be honest.