Wednesday, February 09, 2011

BC environmental groups reap bitter harvest for urging supporters to join BC Liberal Party - Clark, Falcon support eco-damaging Prosperity Mine

First Nations and environmentalists have opposed the Prosperity Mine that would devastate Fish Lake
Five BC environmental groups have learned a harsh lesson about politics - be careful who you get in bed with.

The groups - working as part of "Organizing For Change British Columbia" - recently emailed supporters to suggest that they join the BC Liberal Party before the February 4 cut off date in order to vote in the February 26 leadership contest that will choose the province's next premier.

The idea was that these new members could tip the balance of votes in favour of the most environmentally-conscious candidate - hard as that is to believe for some who have studied the BC Liberal government's atrocious record.

But regardless of your analysis, today it backfired badly as a leading BC Liberal candidate came out strongly in favour of proceeding with the controversial Prosperity Mine in northern BC - a project even the federal Stephen Harper Conservative government rejected in an environmental assessment as too damaging to allow.

And the Prosperity Mine has been vociferously fought by First Nations and environmental organizations - including some who urged members to join up with the BC Liberals.

Christy Clark pulled no punches in a story by Ian Bailey in today's Globe and Mail newspaper - saying it is only "common sense" that the Taseko Mines-owned project environmental assessment be overturned - and that view will go ahead full steam ahead if she becomes premier.

"I think the Prosperity Mine needs to move ahead, not just for the thousands of jobs that would be created over the years in the Williams Lake area, but as a signal to investors across the world that British Columbia is open for investment, and if you want to tell people not to come the Prosperity Mine is a pretty big signpost telling them we don't really want investment here. We have to change that," Clark told Bailey.

Ouch!  Jobs trump environment again?

And that follows similar comments late last year from fellow BC Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon, who told the Prince George Citizen's Gordon Hoekstra that while the environmental concerns were important, the federal government had not properly weighed the economic benefits.

Falcon said he wants the Prosperity Mine's status put back in front of the federal government.

Falcon and Clark's views are totally at odds with environmentalists of course, who condemned the provincial approval of the project and hailed the federal rejection.

"The big difference in this case is, the federal panel was arm's length from the government, it's more transparent, and more likely to result in findings of environmental impacts," Andrew Gage, acting executive director of West Coast Environmental Law - one of the five groups pushing BC Liberal memberships - told the Vancouver Sun's Larry Pynn in November 2010. Ecojustice, another of the five, also denounced the province for approving the mine.

Today the Sierra Club - a member of Organizing for Change but not a participant in the BC Liberal membership strategy - released a scathing news release denouncing Christy Clark.

"Sierra Club BC is dismayed by BC Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark's statement that one of her top priorities is to reverse Ottawa's decision to reject the proposed Fish Lake gold and copper mine near Williams Lake," the release reads.

"British Columbians are deeply attached to our wilderness areas and understand that we cannot build an enduring and strong economy by further endangering our water and wildlife," said Sierra Club BC Executive Director George Heyman.

"Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) has significant importance to the Tsilhqot'in First Nation in terms of their traditional culture, rights and title. Their concerns are swept aside by Ms. Clark's ill-advised support for the 'Prosperity' mine proposal, which was soundly rejected by the federal government," Heyman says.

"Ms. Clark was part of the BC 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", concludes Heyman, who admitted considering a run at the BC NDP leadership but decided against it.

The federal government environmental panel did indeed soundly thrash the mine proposal that Clark and Falcon love.

The mine, the federal panel wrote: "Would result in significant adverse environmental effects on fish and fish habitat, on navigation, on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by First Nations and on cultural heritage, and on certain potential or established Aboriginal rights or title."

The Prosperity Mine "in combination with past, present and reasonably foreseeable future projects would result in a significant adverse cumulative effect on grizzly bears in the South Chilcotin region and on fish and fish habitat." 

The original idea of swaying the BC Liberals in favour of the environment, as outlined in an email from Lisa Matthaus of Organizing for Change and obtained by Public Eye Online's Sean Holman, is below:

"If you received this message, you live in a provincial riding with very few Liberal Party members, probably less than 400.

If the BC Liberals change their voting rules, as expected, a vote for leader in your riding will likely carry at least 5 times more weight than one in a riding with 2000 members. Enough people are receiving this email to carry the vote in most of your ridings.

If you want a Premier who is going to feel compelled to respond to environmental issues, now is the time to get involved.

But you have to act quickly. The cut-off date for people to join the BC Liberal Party and be eligible to vote for leader - who will immediately be the new Premier - is February 4th, this Friday. [Note: the cut-off date for the BC NDP leadership vote is now past.]

Conservation Voters of BC has all of the information you need to make sure you are part of this crucial decision. Keep in mind that taking action on this unprecedented opportunity now does not determine the vote you will cast in the next provincial election, which isn't scheduled to happen until 2013. Party memberships can be cancelled at any time. But it will likely determine who is running for Premier.

Organizing for Change has been encouraging environmentally-minded British Columbians to make their voices heard in both current leadership races. We will also be publishing responses from all leadership candidates - Liberals and NDP - to a series of environmental questions that have been sent to them.

Make the environment a determining issue for BC's new political leaders!

This alert is part of a series of action alerts from members of Organizing for Change, an effort of BC's leading conservation groups working to protect the health of the people, land, air, water and wildlife of British Columbia.

Together we identify environmental priorities that we present to government as opportunities for them to demonstrate their environmental leadership. We are partnering with Conservation Voters of BC on this e-alert; CVBC is a separate, volunteer-run organization that works to elect environmental champions in BC.

Organizing for Change members participating in this special B.C. leadership message:

Dogwood Initiative


Georgia Strait Alliance

West Coast Environmental Law




Anonymous said...

When Campbell resigned, he said he would continue on with his work. I said, his work was dirty work, and, this was part of his dirty work. I also had read, the federal government said, dumping toxic mine waste in Fish Lake, could be re-applied for. Turns out, I was exactly right. Campbell has also been working on the dirty tar sands pipeline. It sounds like, instead of Enbridge building the pipeline, it will be Kinder Morgan. Campbell will be sticking around, to advise the next candidate. No doubt, Campbell is steering Christy Clark already. If you read, Laila Yuile's Falcon's follies, this is also up his alley. Neither one of them are squeaky clean, for other reasons, we all know of. De Jong, is already dirty, because of his part in, Campbell's corrupt sale of the BCR. Campbell and Harper, have also worked on, drilling oil and gas wells, off shore of BC's coast. I also said, BC is financially ruined, and, will become a polluted wasteland because of the BC Liberals and Harper. I said, Campbell is far too full of, hate, spite, malice and far too vindictive to just quit. He is just too dirty a personality, not to destroy this province.

Anonymous said...

Campbell, the BC Liberals, and the candidates, have no common sense. Christy Clark has no sense at all. Neither does Falcon, he is destroying valuable farmland, how dammed stupid can this Liberal government get? Campbell is building the site C dam to supply this blight on Canada, the dirty tar sands, with water. That dam is destroying the most valuable farmland in Canada. Stupid, stupid idiot. They found deformed fish in Lake Athabasca. They have found oil in the Mighty Athabasca River. The caribou are dying. Another flock of ducks died,
from landing in the filthy sludge. Worst of all, a First Nations village is dying from cancer. Some have a very rare type of cancer, from exposure to petroleum products. My, my, aren't the BC Liberals so very green. All of that, because of the dirty tar sands. The Athabasca watershed is contaminated. The eco system up there, is totally poisoned.

The eco system around Fish Lake, with the toxic mine waste, will poison the entire eco system there as well. Wild life will die, fish will die, our drinking water will be contaminated. The poison will leach into the eco system. We can look forward to more cancer victims, from that abomination too. Would Harper, Campbell, Clark and Falcon, agree to drink the water from nearby streams and rivers, around the dirty tar sands or Fish Lake? They should be forced to.

Gary E said...

Every time Cristy Clark opens her mouth more Oxygen is released. I truly believe that her head is now working as a complete vacuum.
Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who believes that it is "the thing to do" in aid of giving obscene profits to fat cats at the expense of the health and well being of the citizens has no place in this country, let alone this province.
I believe Clark is walking around and blindly following advise of her handlers rather than making informed statements.
If she was informed she would know that Taseko already has another option on the drawing board.
As I noted in the beginning when the Provincial effort was rubber stamped, if Taseko had the technology to build another lake to replace the three destroyed, they would sure as hell have the technology to move the Tailings out of the area.

Anonymous said...

As a severely underemployed person, I will say that jobs are just as important as the environment, and choosing between the two is no easy task.

I'd be happier if the province looked at actual scientific evidence around the destruction of Fish Lake, and the impacts on the surrounding water table, in particular the potential of toxic tailings leaching into the Fraser River watershed.

A thorough hydrology study needs to be completed, including the impacts on underground water tables and aquifers.

Can the leachate be contained?
What examples do we have that indicate similar tailings projects have been successful?
Even more important, what examples do we have of these kinds of earthen berms failing?

After years of cutbacks to the civil service, including the environment ministry's monitoring program for BC dams, recent examples in the province such as the Testalinden dam do not bode well for the public good.

And may I bring up the name Carole James?

Just weeks before the former NDP leader foolishly resigned, she proposed a mining commission to look into these sort of proposals.
Where do the NDP leadership candidates stand on the mining commission plan?

Yes, the environment is important, but it should not be the sole factor when deciding the future of our province.

DPL said...

One wonders just what some environment groups use for brains . Join a party so they can tip the power, when the Libs claim they have 90,000 members, or there about.Who were they going to vote for? Maybe the doctor who is considered as running dead last. No wonder so many people get tired of hearing from "environmentalists" when they come up with some of their claims. With the Libs remaining in power for some time, expect more rash decisions.Some band with 12 members want to take a lot of water and bottle it, wonder which environment group will go along with that deal?

Jobs are important for sure, but I can recall listngin to the Atomic workers Union telling the fed convention that if we all go against future nuclear expansion some of them they might lose their jobs. Everyone voted against the expansion anyway

outsourced said...

Yes, jobs are important, but they should not be the sole factor when deciding the future of our province.

Too often we thing of jobs versus the economy when we should be thinking about new kinds of jobs based on keeping the environment intact.

If we don't have an environment that can support life, we just won't benefit from those "wonderful" mining and other resource extraction jobs. We can't keep on destroying agricultural land and polluting the environment and support life as we know it.

Its simple. Even the share holders and directors or multinationals will be unable to escape the degradation of the environment for long.

But few think about the long term. Its just greed and short-term gain that motivates the free market ideologues like Christy "Meow" Clark and Falcon.

Anonymous said...

Good article, I hate how the mainstream media keeps touting the BC Libs as champions of the environment because of their misguided carbon tax. That along does not forgive all their wrong doings to the environment.

I'm wondering why we aren't hearing from teh Green Party, with the troubles of the BC Libs and NDP, you'd think they would come out fighting. Or was it just the BC Liberal media manipulation that brought them out last election as a distraction, to split the vote from the NDP?

cherylb said...

Smart....NOT! That's what happens when people think they are more clever than others by half.

And how were maybe a couple of thousand environmentalists going to influence the results of a leadership race against 30,000 or 40,000 Liberals?

Anonymous said...

Taseko has said that it may now be economically feasible to develop the mine WITHOUT destroying the lake..

If so, I want to read the modified proposal with an open mind....

Anonymous said...

Clean drinking water, will become more valuable than oil and mines. Read the water war crimes, water is just as dirty a business as oil is. The rate BC has poisoned lakes, rivers and stream, because of mining and oil, is scary. Some of the States and Mexico, already get our water, they have run out of, their own safe drinking water. The bottom line is, we can't drink oil. We can't eat copper nor gold. Fish Lake isn't contained, the poison will seep into the eco system, and spread into rivers and streams. Any wild life drinking the contaminated water, will perish.

e.a.f. said...

It is truly beyond me how any enviornmental group could suggest people join the liberals. A party membership requires giving money and giving any money to the liberals is a contribution to the destruction of the enviornment.
All of the candidates have been involved in things which have adversly affected the enviornment.
The lieberals allowed the forests to be logged and the logs shipped out of Canada; they want pipe lines, they want oil/gas tankers going down the coast, they have suggested drilling for off shore oil, they have had land taken out of the ALR, and the list goes on.
Anyone who thinks they can change things from inside the lieberals needs to give their head a shake.
All of the cadidates have in their own way contributed to the child poverty in this province.
If the lieberals continue to rule B.C. we will see the utter destruction of our enviornment.

Lisa Matthaus said...

Political promises to destroy Fish Lake, or promises to kill the carbon tax, are examples of how the strong green values of BC’s citizens are somehow not being communicated to politicians and political parties. It’s exactly why some environmental groups were encouraging supporters, in a series of emails (not just the one Tieleman is preferring to highlight) to consider getting involved in either of the leadership races: to make sure the environment was an issue of debate in both of the races. Declaring failure or victory at this stage is bizarrely premature - but sitting it out altogether, as perhaps Mr. Tieleman prefers environmental voters to do, guarantees failure. OFC will be publishing responses from all candidates, in both parties, on a series of environmental questions to give members in both parties the information they need to evaluate the environmental commitments of their prospective leaders.

Karl Hardin said...

Last week roughly 1,000 people opposed to tankers on BC's north coast joined the BC Liberal Party in the 26 hours preceding the membership deadline.

The goal: try to use the leverage of our numbers to get leadership candidates to commit to supporting a ban on oil tankers on BC's north coast. Polling shows that a position in support of a federal ban on tankers crosses the political spectrum here in BC. As has been made crystal-clear recently, however, not all candidates are going to commit to bold environmental policies.

But, whether we like it or not, just a handful of people are going to be voting-in the next premier, who will be in power for two years. This isn’t a general election, so the only people who can exercise any kind of democratic right in this process are those who are willing to sign up as party members.

In my opinion, it's better to engage with all political parties in BC to try to push for commitments to environmental policies, rather than assume that only one party will do so. Dogwood initiative is a non-partisan organization, we will not be telling anyone who to vote for. Some claim that this direct action will somehow give the Liberals an advantage in the next general election, or lead to greenwashing. I disagree; progressive voters are smarter than that. It's better to push for environmental policies on all fronts, within and without the system.

outsourced said...

Karl Hardin and Lisa Matthaus. I don't like to get personal, but I couldn't read your comments without LOL and then moaning. So better than internalizing that awful moan...

Well, if we don't know by now what the Liberal position is on selling public assets to their friends - the big multinationals - and the record on deceit and corruption, we never will.

I don't get it. After ten years of Gordo - and he was only the public face of the Liberal government, not the guys in the back room who pulled the strings - I would have thought people would have woken up to the agenda of the Liberal party (like Harper and all the neo-cons) which is to privatize everything they can for the sake of the profit for a few. If environmentalists in the North have any brains, they would not be giving one more cent to the liberals in the form of membership dues.

Ask Christy Meow Clark and Falcon and de Jong what they plan to do with pensions, schools, dams, tankers, mines and highways and you will get one answer one day and another the next.

Christy has no idea herself, but she certainly has the same boys working for her as Campbell had before. Falcon is no choice either - he's a Gordo protege. De Jong had ten years and said nothing as did Abbott.

But hey, let's forget the BC Rail scandal, let's forget the HST lies, let's forget the loss of jobs every month, let's forget their environmental record, let's forget pipelines and dams, give them a second chance and a third and maybe a fourth, just to be see what they would do.

We wouldn't want to risk making a difference with the Liberals!!!! Let's join the Liberal free enterprise "Party" of corruption and lies. Maybe they'll give more to the rich so we working people can have a few crumbs off their table.

The environment? Let's trust the Liberals. They know best!!! And, we all know that what they say as policy before the election is what they will actually do after the election and the full weight of the deficit and unemployment hits. Let's not talk about their economic policy and environmental record - its all new, its a blank sheet. After all, they look somewhat different from Gordo, don't they?

Watch what happens as the full weight of the disastrous economic decisions they made over the pst ten years are exacerbated by the global recession which is still grinding many countries into the ground.

It doesn't take a weather man to know which way the wind blows and for the Liberals its simply power and greed. Starve the kids and give the rich tax breaks so they can vacation and spend in another country. To hell with the environment because they don't have to live here.

Anonymous said...

Emotions are running high on both sides. Seems like Taseko can mitigate the environmental impact if they are "forced" to do so. Seems like although it would be more expensive for the company, it would create even more jobs to mine the area responsibly. Taseko tried to do it the easy way, and politics being corrupt as they are, who can blame them. They got shut down and should now come up with a real proposal that satisfies the real environmental issues, not the political ones. As far as the 1rst nations go, it is time we the people stand up and say enough of this blackmail, this land belongs to the crown or it belongs to them, give them their own area, let them secede from Canada and stand on their own and work for a living, or they can become regular Canadian citizens with rights AND responsibilities. Either way, lets put an an end to the mess politics and litigation has made of this country. The only ones winning here are the politicians and lawyers.