Adam Olsen is the interim leader of the BC Green Party.
The Canadian government has rejected the New Prosperity Gold & Copper Mine southwest of Williams Lake, B.C. for the second time. Federal Conservative Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that she, like her predecessor Jim Prentice, had turned down the mine proposal concluding the “project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated.”
No doubt the announcement caused a collective sigh of relief from the Tsilhqot’in and Secwepemc Nations who have spent more than two decades opposing the project. The Federal Review Panel’s final report to the government last October found New Prosperity would “adversely affect” the local First Nations way of life and that the impact would be “significant” and “could not be mitigated.”
Despite the fact that the Tsilhqot’in and Secwepemc are opposed to the New Prosperity mine, the B.C. Liberal government continues to support the project. This is both profoundly troubling and inconsistent with their commitments to First Nations.
In the last few weeks alone there has been no shortage of B.C. Liberal rhetoric about the importance of building relationships and partnerships with First Nations that are founded on respect:
“These agreements between government and First Nations help to build respect. It helps to build the relationship, and more importantly, it leads as building blocks on reconciliation.” (Hon. John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation – Hansard – Feb. 18, 2014)
“We will continue working closely with First Nations and communities to make sure that development aligns with theirs and the province’s needs and priorities.” (Hon. Michael de Jong, Minister of Finance – Hansard – Feb. 18, 2014)
“Today mining is all about partnerships — industry, government, communities and First Nations. We are the first province in the country where we are sharing our provincial royalties from mining with First Nations: 37½ percent of every provincial royalty dollar from a mine goes to the surrounding First Nations.” (Hon. Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy & Mines – Hansard – Feb. 19, 2014)
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