Bill Walker, Associate Minister of Energy and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP sat down with James Scongack, Bruce Power Executive Vice President Corporate Affairs and Operational Services, for an informal ‘fireside chat’ at the recent Economic and Innovation Summit held on Friday, November 15th at Cobble Beach Golf and Country Club.
Walker began his political career as Wiarton’s BIA Recreation Co-ordinator and always had an infinity for politics. He was employed on contract at Bruce Power in communications and admired former politician Murray Ellston. After six years, Walker was hired as a full-time staffer at Bruce Power. When former MPP Bill Murdoch approached him with the possibility of running following his own retirement, Walker made the decision to run.
|In conversation, Scongack asked, when it comes to nuclear and energy, what Bruce Power may be missing. Walker said that a big important piece is the isotope production for health care. “Even those who don’t like nuclear, can’t argue with the medical care that it’s providing. However, we are going to have to do things in a prudent way. Energy in our province will impact our children and grandchildren. Energy is very complex and it’s something that most of us take for granted. When we turn on a switch, we expect the lights to come on. ”
“Although people want low pricing, the number one thing they want is reliability,” said Walker. We have to make sure we do things in a pragmatic prudent way because we just can’t flip a switch overnight and fix the world.”
“Nuclear in our area is impactful not just to the economy and jobs but with the ripple affect in communities. Little villages like Ripley will grow again and be sustainable. The things that Bruce Power does for the social fabric across our region is incredible. Support for hospitals, hospices, Legions – there isn’t a charity across Grey, Bruce and Huron that isn’t being funded by Bruce Power or the employees.”
“We should all understand the complexity and be reasonable. Nuclear isn’t going to change our world tomorrow. Is there a place for wind and solar? Absolutely. We have to start looking beyond our own borders to places like China, India and Korea who are creating coal plants. We can play a big part by taking our technology to those countries to give them clean power.”
“Good leaders aren’t thinking in the present, they are always three, four and five steps ahead. I can tell you that the Premier has his heart in the right place and his sincerity and wanting to make a difference, especially for those less fortunate is around his table.”
Walker said his biggest ‘buggaboo’ is the interest that is being paid out annually. “We pay out $12Billion in interest and that money could be going to affordable housing and health care and education.”
“Energy is impactful in every facet of life. It impacts our seniors homes, our sports facilities, our affordable housing, our schools – everything we do is impact. We can’t sit back. We have to look at new technologies and nuclear will be a big part of that … we need Bruce Power.”
Walker however, also reiterated what had been said by other speakers at the Summit. “Don’t take anything for granted. The world can go upside down overnight. A main focus of Bruce Power is to add an asset life to what already exists rather than just building new. How can we maximize life? We can’t get into that bureaucratic mindset that we’ll just add new taxes. The key is accountability and that starts with leadership.”
“The work taking place at Bruce Power, whether it’s the Major Component Replacement, work on medical isotopes, or the production of emissions-free electricity for our province, continues to be a source of pride and excitement for our region,” Walker said. “I was proud to participate in this year’s summit to highlight how important Bruce Power is to our local economy through their investments in local communities, attracting new businesses to the region, and creating well-paying jobs here in Bruce, Grey and Huron counties.”