REALITY CHECK: Taseko’s revised plan for Prosperity Mine proves B.C. Liberals out of touch

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Taseko’s revised application to build the Prosperity Mine without killing Fish Lake proves that First Nations, environmentalists, and concerned British Columbians were right to oppose the original project, and demonstrates how out of touch the B.C. Liberals are on environmental and First Nations issues.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark promised to exert political pressure on Ottawa to reverse their decision as a central plank of her “Families First” agenda. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper shot back Monday, telling reporters the federal government’s decision was final.

Even Taseko Mines has conceded the project cannot go ahead as planned, resulting in a revised application being submitted Monday that does not include draining a pristine lake with special significance to First Nations in the area. The changes would add $300 million to the project.

A look at what people are saying about the Taseko Prosperity mine shows that the B.C. Liberals stand alone in their support for the original proposal to drain Fish Lake:

  • Christy Clark, B.C. Liberal leadership candidate: “This isn't the final decision as far as I am concerned.”(Globe and Mail, Feb. 8, 2011)

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper:“The government has rendered a decision. That decision is final.”(Globe and Mail, Feb. 22, 2011)

  • Christy Clark, B.C. Liberal leadership candidate: “At the political level, they see how dumb this decision is, so I think there’s an appetite to change it.” (Globe and Mail, Feb. 8, 2011)

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper:“These kinds of decisions are made on the basis of facts – not just economic facts, but also environmental facts…” (Globe and Mail, Feb. 22, 2011)

  • Chief Joe Alphonse, Tl'etinqox (Anaham) First Nation: “It's a dead issue. The decision has come down. They need to show leadership and acknowledge that the decision has come down and accept that decision and move on.” (CBC Radio, Feb. 10, 2011)

  • George Heyman, Sierra Club executive director: “Ms. Clark was part of the B.C. Liberal government which gutted our provincial environmental assessment process a decade ago. Their jobs-at-any-cost approach led to provincial approval of a lake-destroying mine… Taseko Mines proposal was rejected for all the right reasons, and that decision must stand.”(Sierra Club press release, Feb. 9, 2011)

The B.C. Liberals gutted the environmental review process in 2002 when Christy Clark was deputy premier, setting the stage for conflicts around resource development and creating uncertainty in the sector.

B.C.’s New Democrats are working on solutions to ensure that natural resources are used effectively to create jobs in British Columbia, while respecting First Nations, environmental sustainability and local community needs.