Protect Fish Lake - Teztan Biny

Letters & News

Below are letters to the editor, newspaper articles and media releases regarding Fish Lake / Prospertity Mine Project

B.C. Politicians’ Lobbying Efforts Discrediting Provincial Commitment to First Nations, Environment

The Tsilhqot’in National Government responded today to reports that B.C. Mines Minister Bill Bennett was joining a Taseko Mines Ltd. lobbying trip to Ottawa for the controversial New Prosperity mine, continuing his promotion for this mine proposal despite a second, more scathing independent panel report.  This follows recent reports that show mining companies are at the top of lobbying meetings with Harper and his Ministers.

“It is a disgrace for the province to have Minister Bennett cheerleading a project despite two independent panels that have left no doubt that it is an environmental disaster and a direct threat to our culture and our communities,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair for the Tsilhqot’in National Government.  “This same willful ignorance of the Tsilhqot’in and the environment led the province to rubber-stamp the original proposal in 2010, only to discredit the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office when even the pro-mining federal government had no choice but to reject this bad project.  So it is nothing new for us.  We now expect these four Ministers to agree to hear from us as well about the legal situation and their constitutional obligations to us as a First Nation.”
“We have a second independent panel saying this Project would severely infringe our proven Aboriginal rights to hunt and trap and that this impact cannot be mitigated” said Chief Roger William of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government.  “We hope the Ministers have our constitutional rights in mind, because this Project clearly violates our Aboriginal rights, as well as our human rights as Indigenous peoples.  If the Federal Government approves this mine, it could be on the hook for millions to the company in compensation when the courts strike down those approvals.”

“It is totally premature that provincial cabinet Ministers are actively lobbying while their own B.C. Environmental Assessment Office is still reviewing the proposal,” said Chief Russell Myers Ross of the Yunesit’in Government.  “It is unprofessional and makes it clear that B.C. does not care about good process from which to make decisions.  If the BC EAO is to maintain any shred of credibility then it had better question the conduct of these politicians.”

Chief William: “Minister Bennett has clearly not read the panel report, or he doesn’t understand it, because the panel concluded that the impacts on Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and on our people cannot be mitigated.  Bennett’s suggestion that the company needs only adopt the panel’s recommendations is misleading and shameful.  This project cannot be saved and for the federal government to ignore its own experts now would be a huge mistake that would discredit their own claims of respecting the science.”

Chief Alphonse:  “It’s disappointing that the provincial government is not more concerned with relationships with First Nations, who hold the keys to an estimated $650 billion in development projects in western Canada.  This is a bad project and there’s no way it can be approved.  We’d rather work with the Province on acceptable proposals elsewhere, so this is all a waste of time and energy.  We’re hearing a lot these days from the Federal Government about ‘responsible resource development’ – well, here’s where the rubber hits the road.  We’ll see if this has any meaning for the Federal Government or if they want to take the road of all out conflict with First Nations, like British Columbia seems intent on.”

The recent report on federal lobbying by the mining industry can be found here:

Posted by: Wolfgang Zilker Thursday Dec 12, 2013 10:41
Categories: CEAA, First Nations, Prosperity Mine, Teztan Biny, Xeni Gwet'in | Tags: aboriginal rights & title