"What kind of insurance policy do you take out if you operate a large nuclear plant in one of the most densely populated, fastest-growing communities in Canada?
The Harper government believes $650 million should cover it off, even in the event of a catastrophic, however improbable, accident at a nuclear plant such as the aging Pickering generating station.
Whether that amount is high enough was the subject of lengthy debate these past two weeks as legislators took a close look at Bill C-20, the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act.
The bill raises the cap on liability to $650 million from the $75 million limit established in 1976. It represents a nearly ninefold increase that the federal government calls "reasonable" and in line with international standards, given the extremely low likelihood of a severe accident. But critics of the bill say the government is still lowballing the cost of potential damages and is out of touch with other nuclear-power nations that measure liability in the billions, not millions of dollars."