WILLIAMS LAKE, BC, Jan. 13, 2017 /CNW/ - The federal Crown announced this morning that it is moving to stay MiningWatch's charges against the B.C. government and Mount Polley Mining Corporation (MPMC)—owned by Imperial Metals—over the largest mine waste disaster in Canadian history. If successful, the Crown action would prevent MiningWatch from presenting evidence to the Court about the 2014 spill's damages to downstream waters and fish habitat, in violations of the Fisheries Act (see backgrounder below).
"We were stunned that the federal Crown does not even want us show the Court that there was enough evidence to justify proceeding with a prosecution against both the B.C. government & MPMC for the worst mining spill in Canadian history," says Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch.
The Court will decide in the next few weeks if the Crown is allowed to enter a stay of charges so early in the process, without even first hearing the evidence from the private prosecutor (MiningWatch).
MiningWatch is concerned that by staying these proceedings without clear justifications, the Crown is sending the wrong signal to industry across Canada and further undermines public confidence in the ability of our regulatory system to effectively protect our environment.
This decision raises serious questions about the federal Crown's real intention to lay, or not, its own charges against B.C. government and MPMC. Lapointe: "Soon to be three years after the fact, they still haven't filed their own charges. What confidence can the public have that if they can't even say when, or if, they will file their own charges? They're welcome to take over the case, but to prosecute it, not to stay, dismiss or stall the proceedings."
Call to action
MiningWatch is calling on the public to seek answers and clear commitment from the federal government to enforce its own environmental laws when they are violated. Please take the time to write to both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (firstname.lastname@example.org), Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice (Jody.Wilson-Raybould@parl.gc.ca), Hon. Dominique Leblanc, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (email@example.com). Let them know you want to the Canadian Fisheries Act to be enforced promptly in the case of the Mount Polley Mine disaster. More actions will follow.
MiningWatch's legal action is supported by multiple local, provincial, and national organizations, including West Coast Environmental Law-Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (main funder), Amnesty International Canada, Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee, First Nations Women Advocating for Responsible Mining, Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake, Quesnel River Watershed Alliance, Fair Mining Collaborative, Rivers Without Borders, British Columbia Environmental Network, Clayoquot Action, Forest Protection Allies, Kamloops Area Preservation Association, Kamloops Physicians for the Environment Society, Alaska Clean Water Advocacy.
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SOURCE MiningWatch Canada
For further information: Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, c.514-708-0134