Government must not override environmental protections, says Cullen

SMITHERS

– As Taseko Mines Ltd tries to brush aside the ruling of a federal review panel that found a proposed mine at Fish Lake would cause “significant adverse environmental effects,” New Democrats are calling on the Harper Government to stop undermining the environmental review system by putting industry interests first.

New Democrat Natural Resources Critic Nathan Cullen said a decision by the government to override the panel’s findings and permit the destruction of Fish Lake would undermine the entire environmental review process in Canada.

“I am very concerned that the decision now rests in the hands of a government that has been waging a war on environmental protections for years, supposedly in the name of economic progress,” said Cullen. 

In spite of the overwhelming opposition of local First Nations and the findings of the independent review panel, the mine could still be approved by Cabinet.

“It should be obvious that turning a fish-filled lake in traditional aboriginal territory into a mine will have significant adverse effects.  We need to take a hard look at closing the legal loophole that allows the government to reclassify living lakes and rivers as tailing impoundment areas.”

“When Canadians are asked to trade in a lake for a mine, it is understandable that many are concerned,” said Cullen. “In this case the review panel has said very clearly that those concerns are valid and government must respect this finding.”

New Democrats have called on the federal government to invest in promoting sustainability within the resource sector to ensure that Canadians are not asked to choose between economic gain and their environmental heritage.

“We have to get beyond the paradigm of environment versus the economy and start proposing projects that respect both goals.”