politicians and mudholes… when elected officials say the stupidest things

Fish Lake - Teztan Biny; Friends of Nemiah Valley header photo

Sometimes politicians can say the stupidest things… but then maybe I’m stating the obvious…

The Globe and Mail ran an article yesterday:

Trout above B.C. gold deposit proving to be fine kettle of fish for Ottawa

In the article BC’s Mining Minister Bill Bennet is quoted:

“The federal report would leave you with the impression that Fish Lake is this spectacular sport fishing lake that would be almost sacrilegious to change,” Mr. Bennett said in an interview this week.

The reality is quite different, he said. “This is a tiny little pothole of a lake.”

That’s not the description that springs to mind when looking at photographs of the 12-square-kilometre lake. Mr. Bennett hasn’t been there, but his staff tell him it is “a shallow, mucky lake with too many small rainbows in it.”

That’s brilliant… just brilliant. “I’ve never actually been there, but it has too many fish and it’s basically a mudhole…”

Mr. Bennett this is a mud hole:

Mud hole...

This is not a mud hole:

Teztan Biny -- www.thecanadian.org

In fact this little “pothole”-mudhole of a lake… the Province has, in the past,  found worthy to publish a postcard of… and is the subject of many photos:

Click on image below to read article by Tony Pearse.


Mr Bennett waxing on:

“I personally have come to the conclusion that the federal process is not as good a process,” he said. “If they are going to be harmonized – what a terrible word these days – we have to agree on a process that includes all factors that influence sustainability.”

Yet… the federal environmental assessment process took longer and considered more input:

In its report, the federal panel tartly suggested that the province’s rush to review limited its input. “In particular, the panel notes that the province was not able to consider the final comments from federal departments [e.g. Department of Fisheries and Oceans] nor was it able to take advantage of information received during the public hearing from First Nations. …”

Uh, huh…

Maybe Mr. Bennett needs to visit his ministry’s website and read some of the hot air espoused there:

"The Four Cornerstones of the BC Mining Plan"

I guess when it comes to Taseko’s proposed Prosperity project Mr. Bennett only wants to build with two cornerstones… why bother with that First Nations stone, or “protecting the environment” stone…

… especially when there’s all that stone to be ground up and dumped into a fish-bearing lake that drains into one of BC’s most significant sockeye rivers: the Chilko…

Or, more so, Mr. Bennett, “we have to agree on a process that includes all factors that influence sustainability”?.

I have an idea… let’s start with BC’s Sustainability in BC Mining Criteria:

BC Mining Sustainability Criteria

This diagram has some accompanying material:

  1. Health and Safety: The project/operation is acting to ensure the health and safety of workers and the community.
  2. Effective Engagement: The relationships with those affected by a project/operation are characterized by integrity and trust.
  3. Respect for Indigenous Peoples: The project/operation respects the rights, culture and values of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Environment: Actions are being taken to ensure the maintenance and strengthening of environmental integrity over the long term within the region of influence of the project/operation.
  5. Full Mine or Operation Life Cycle: A full mine or operation life cycle perspective is being applied for planning and decision making that spans exploration through post-closure.
  6. Resource-use Efficiency: The project/operation is seeking to minimize resource inputs—energy, water, reagents, supplies, etc.—while also minimizing contaminant outputs to air, water and land.
  7. Continuous Learning and Adaptation: The uncertainty inherent in mining operations is recognized, and a commitment to continuous learning is displayed.
  8. Benefits: The project/operation is enhancing the potential for creating economic, social and cultural benefits for the local community or region.

Based on those inputs and what the federal review panel of this particular project found; I’ve re-drawn the diagram for Mr. Bennett and Mr. Campbell:

Sustainability... my ass...

A few highlights related back to this pretty diagram:

  • Integrity and Trust? Mr Bennett’s comments alone about Fish Lake display a lack of integrity and trust, as do his colleague Mr. Hawes (jr. mining ministry) regarding the recent Harvard Law study report regarding the Province’s mining laws and the Takla Lake First Nation.
  • Respect for First Nations? Both these two Provincial ministers are also demonstrating their “respect” for First Nations… “yeah, I never been there, but my staff tells me its a mud hole…”  Nice. atta boy Bill. Plus the fact that the Xeni Gwet’in have this issue in the courts due to the Province’s stance and utterly flawed treaty process in BC (now close to 20 years ongoing)
  • Environmental Integrity? Yeah, the federal review panel certainly supports the fact that environmental integrity will be held up; even the frigging Provincial review panel said there would significant environmental effects…
  • Full Mine Life Cycle?… Yup, sure, from operation through post-closure. Well, Mr. Bennett, post-closure means monitoring the proposed dam and tailings facility forever. If the dam ever gave way, this would be devastating from the Chilcotin all the way to Vancouver and out into the Georgia Strait-Salish Sea.
  • Resource-use efficiency? Oh yea… the best Taseko can do is suggest they can build another lake (Prosperity Lake) that will only support about 20,000 rainbow, less than a quarter of current estimates in Fish Lake. We won’t mention the other water issues… such as having to use water to submerse acid-generating waste rock… that’s a great use of water.
  • Continouos learning and adaptation? Ummm… yeah, in 2007, there was this Joint Review Panel decision on another similarly proposed project — Kemess North several hundred km north of the proposed Prosperity Project. Northgate Minerals wanted to turn pristine Amazay (Duncan) Lake into a tailings facility. They were denied — largely based on enviro effects and First Nations opposition. Yup… the Province is learning alright…
  • Benefits? uh, huh… the federal review panel found that this proposed project would have significant negative social and cultural impacts on the region.

6 thoughts on “politicians and mudholes… when elected officials say the stupidest things

  1. will

    RE. Mr Bennet’s lake classification, did you know that Mr Bennet used to be a fishing guide? I guess thats why he’s now an MLA… 😉

  2. Ramsey

    Very well put!

    We should have used some of that stuff from the BC mines website in the panel hearings!

    Keep up the great writing!

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