Government of Canada Rescinds the Designation of President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and Appoints Interim President
OTTAWA – The Government of Canada today rescinded the designation of Ms. Linda Keen as President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The decision is effective immediately. Ms. Keen will maintain her position as a full-time member of the CNSC.
The Government of Canada also announced today the appointment of Mr. Michael Binder, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications with the Department of Industry, as interim President of the CNSC. This appointment is effective immediately. The government will launch at the earliest opportunity an open selection process to identify a permanent President of the highest calibre.
A career public servant, Mr. Binder has extensive senior management experience and a strong scientific background, which he will bring to bear as he leads the Commission through this transition period.
The President of the CNSC is the chief executive officer of the Commission and has supervision over and direction of the work of the members, officers and employees of the organization.
In announcing the decision, the Minister of Natural Resources issued the following statement:
"The position of President of the CNSC is one that requires the utmost confidence of the Government of Canada. Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the CNSC is responsible for regulating the production of nuclear substances as well as preventing unreasonable risk to the health and safety of Canadians associated with that production. It is within that framework that the President has responsibility for directing the Commission. Having reviewed the actions of the President around the extended shutdown of the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) Chalk River Nuclear Research Universal reactor, it is clear that the government is not satisfied that she demonstrated the leadership expected.
The extended shutdown of the reactor was threatening to cause a national and international health crisis. The President was aware of the importance of maintaining Canada’s and the world’s supply of medical isotopes. However, given the growing crisis, she did not demonstrate the leadership expected of the President under the existing legislative provisions of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to put the Commission in a position to address the situation in a timely fashion.
Ultimately, Parliament passed emergency legislation through Bill C-38 to protect the health of Canadians. Throughout Parliament’s proceedings, the President continued to insist that the Commission could do nothing to expedite its consideration of the situation. This approach failed to recognize the considerable powers of the Commission to act on its own initiative to take steps to resolve the emergency.
It is imperative that Canadians have full confidence in the executive leadership of important federal institutions such as the CNSC. The Government has a responsibility to ensure that this confidence is maintained. In light of the circumstances surrounding the actions of the President, such confidence was seriously eroded and the Government removed her as President"
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