Mining Watch News Release: 25,000 Canadians Join First Nations, Local Residents in Seeking Justice for Canada’s Biggest Mining Spill (March 27, 2017)

Williams Lake (B.C.). As Federal Crown Prosecutors move today in B.C. provincial court to stay (i.e. shelve) MiningWatch’s private charges over the Mount Polley mine disaster, the mining watchdog is releasing the names of over 25,000 Canadians who have endorsed a petition urging the Trudeau government not to let those responsible off the hook for the biggest mining spill in Canada’s history. Local residents, regional groups, and First Nations support the effort to enforce the Fisheries Act.

The 25,000-strong petition is presented today in a demonstration in front of Williams Lake Court house. British Columbians and Canadians are invited to add their names to the petition, before the petition is delivered in the coming weeks to each of the federal ministers responsible for enforcing the Fisheries Act.

“We are deeply concerned that nearly three years after the disaster, and despite clear evidence of damage to water and fish habitat, no sanctions have been brought forward by any level of government,” states Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.

Angus Wong, Campaign Manager for SumOfUs, which sponsored the petition, adds: “Worse, Imperial Metals, the owner of the mine, did not even have to pay the full cost of the cleanup. Instead, British Columbians and Canadians picked up a big part of the tab.”

Lapointe adds, “This sets the wrong standards and sends the wrong signal to industry and other mines across Canada. It further undermines public confidence in the mining sector and erodes people’s trust in the ability of our regulatory system to effectively protect our environment.”

Bev Sellars, Chair, First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining, says, “While Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service have been investigating the spill since 2014, there has been a complete lack of results from this investigation to date. This is particularly troubling given that some potential offences have a limitation period of three years to be filed in courts.”

MiningWatch’s private prosecution, filed in October 2016, is the only one so far pushing governments to enforce their own laws over the massive dam breach and tailings spill. It is using a specific provision of the Canadian Criminal Code which allows any citizen to initiate a prosecution if he or she believes, on reasonable grounds, that a person has committed an indictable offence.

“These reasonable grounds clearly exist in this case under the Fisheries Act,” says Lilina Lysenko, litigation lawyer for MiningWatch. “The Public Prosecution Service of Canada Deskbook describes private prosecutions as “a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of authorities,” particularly for public interest cases.”

For the rest of this news release, click here: