Liberal leadership candidate urged to reconsider her "Franken-mine" campaign pledge
The way to create jobs is through meaningful mining reform
VANCOUVER, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - BC's First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining today called on Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark to reconsider her campaign promise to resurrect Taseko Mines' Prosperity project if she becomes premier.
"We urge Ms. Clark to meet with First Nations and others who are seeking a responsible way forward that avoids conflicts over unacceptable projects and allows all of us to focus on positive projects," said FNWARM Chair Anne Marie Sam. "To revive this mine project would be a disaster for anyone who hopes to see a fair resolution to the mining conflict in which BC has been embroiled in recent decades."
"This is a dead project and this attempt to bring it back to life is the mining version of the Frankenstein story," said Soda Creek Chief Bev Sellars, an FMWARM founding member whose Shuswap First Nation would have been impacted by the mine. "This proposal was a monster that united First Nations across BC and Canada in opposition, together with environmentalist, outfitters, ranchers, fishers and others."
Xeni Gwet'in Chief Marilyn Baptiste added: "We are now in the 21st Century and need meaningful reform and relationship-building to create certainty in mining and generate jobs. We do not need to resurrect a project that caused nothing but conflict and is rooted in a destructive 19th Century grab-all approach to mining.
"Too much money and effort has already been wasted on this mine. It has been rejected in the strongest of terms and it is time to move on," said Chief Baptiste, whose Tsilhqot'in community would have been most directly devastated by the lake-and ecosystem-killing Prosperity mine and its 35 sq km footprint on the pristine wilderness area surrounding Teztan Biny (Fish Lake).
Takla Lake First Nation's Chief Dolly Abraham added: "Our community is inundated with mining proposals and we are looking to the new Premier to show leadership in working to bring about real reform and partnership building. Surely the goal should be to create responsible mining system in which we can all work."
Betty Patrick, a former chief of Lake Babine First Nation, and LBFN council member Verna Power agreed: "What is needed is for the provincial government to sit down with our First Nations leaders and industry and bring about reform, not try to promote dead projects that can never be accepted."
Ms. Clark stated this week that the first thing she would do as premier when she met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be to demand that he reverse his government's rejection last November 2 of the prosperity project.
"How could Mr, Harper now reverse this decision?" asked Ms. Sam. "Ms. Clark does not seem to understand that the federal government has already accepted what it called a "scathing" and" most condemning" report on the proposed mine. It has done its duty by the environment, recognized its obligation under the Constitution to protect First Nations from the violation of their rights that would have occurred - and it has seen its support levels actually increase in BC since it rejected the mine."
Ms. Clark is right that the environmental assessment process needs to be reformed, but is mistaken in thinking that British Columbians side with the industry view that it needs to be made easier for mining companies to rush through projects.
For most British Columbians, the environment, protection of water, and fairness for First Nations are very important. What they learned from this process is that the provincial system is so biased in favour of mining companies that it took the federal environmental process and a Conservative government to prevent an environmental disaster and a major abuse of First Nations rights from occurring.
"First Nations and others who want to find a positive way forward are following the leadership race carefully for candidates who are prepared to show real leadership in this matter," said Ms. Sam.
"FNWARM is disappointed that Ms. Clark appears to be basing her position purely on what she has heard from proponents of a rejected and discredited proposal. We really need to put this project behind us if we want to focus on creating responsible mining - not mine fields - in BC."
Media contacts: FNWARM Chair: Anne Marie Sam: Cell: 250-649-8284. Chief Bev Sellars: 250-989-2323