Mining Will Benefit From Better Consultation With First Nations: New Democrats
VICTORIA - Better consultation with First Nations and an enhanced environmental assessment process will be better for mining in British Columbia than the Liberal record of confrontation, say the New Democrats.
"Governments have a legal and moral obligation to consult with First Nations on significant projects proposed for their traditional territory," said New Democrat aboriginal relations critic Scott Fraser.
"But as we've seen with previous decisions, working with First Nations is also a way of ensuring that projects that are in the best interests of all parties move ahead," Fraser said. "One of the reasons that the Mount Milligan project in northern B.C. went ahead was because some of the First Nations in the region were brought onside early in the process.
"Contrast that with Taseko's gold-copper mine in the Cariboo, where the B.C. Liberals have poisoned the relationship with the Tsilhqot’in by pushing ahead without adequate consultation. That's a big part of the reason that project is stalled."
Deputy energy and mines critic Doug Donaldson said Premier Christy Clark compounded the problem by pressing the federal government to overturn its environmental review shortly after being elected leader of the Liberals.
"The premier had barely finished her acceptance speech at the Liberal convention before she was trying to get the Prime Minister to change the federal government's mind on the mine," said Donaldson.
"British Columbians want a healthy mining industry, but they also want good environmental protection," said Donaldson. "By using her first conversation with the prime minister to try to overturn the review, the premier dismissed the legitimate environmental concerns that the Tsilhqot'in and others had expressed.
"Unfortunately, it fits in with the premier's record on the environment: this is the premier who wants more tankers on our coasts and has still not committed to supporting species-at-risk legislation.
"And let's not forget that this is a premier who proudly supported changes which effectively watered down environmental assessments in 2002."
Adrian Dix and the 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.