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Dr. Agnes J. Bishop (1994–2001)

Dr. Agnes Bishop

From pediatrician to President

Agnes J. Bishop, MD, was the president of the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB)/Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) from 1994 until 2001. Expertise in the medical field positioned Dr. Bishop as an ideal candidate for this post, reassuring Canadians of the nuclear sector's prioritization of health and safety.

Before joining the AECB, Bishop practiced medicine in Winnipeg. A renowned pediatrician specializing in pediatric hematology and oncology, Bishop was the physician-in-chief at the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg, the head of Pediatrics at St. Boniface General Hospital and the chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Manitoba.

Bishop was also the first woman to be selected by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to be their president, an opportunity she turned down in exchange for the position of AECB president.

AECB visit to Whiteshell Labs

Bishop's term as president was subject to one of the most significant evolutionary moments in the history of the AECB/CNSC. On May 31, 2000, the AECB transitioned into the CNSC under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. As president, Bishop dedicated a significant portion of her term to this evolutionary milestone, formalizing practices and redefining the role of Canada's nuclear regulator. This transformation required careful leadership and extensive planning, a process Bishop helped to facilitate.

As if the complete restructuring of Canada's nuclear regulatory practices was not enough for one president to oversee, Bishop was also responsible for ensuring that the Canadian nuclear sector was prepared for the turn of the millennium. Y2K presented a myriad of potential problems for the nuclear sector and, as Canada's nuclear regulator, the AECB/CNSC had to be prepared for anything. 

Dr. Agnes Bishop and René Lévesque in the field

Bishop successfully faced these and many other challenges. She is also remembered for her dedication to the AECB/CNSC community.  In a recent discussion, Bonnie Duff and Carmen Ellyson recounted their experiences. “Dr. Bishop had two books. The first book had a photo of each employee and their names beside the photos. The second book had the same photos, but without the names; she wanted to know who she worked with − she also tried to book a one-on-one meeting with each employee." Bishop was committed to nuclear safety and recognized the importance of each employee in keeping Canadians safe and informed.

Dr. Agnes Bishop in the field

For additional information regarding Agnes Bishop's term as AECB president or for a closer look at the CNSC's history, please refer to the 65th anniversary timeline.

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