Skip to content

NEWS: Fish Lake decision will be ‘precedent setting’

National water campaigner Meera Karunananthan

National water campaigner Meera Karunananthan

The Globe and Mail reports that, “The federal government’s decision on a controversial $800-million copper-gold mine in British Columbia will be a precedent for industrial development in Canada, from the use of fresh-water lakes as dump sites for toxic waste to relations with First Nations.”

“In a rare move, a federal review panel concluded late Friday that the proposed mine by Taseko Mines Ltd. will have ‘significant adverse environmental effects,’ specifically on fish, lakes and First Nations use of the land.

On March 22, Council of Canadians national water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and BC-Yukon organizer Harjap Grewal presented to this federal panel and made key arguments opposing the project and the destruction of the lake.

“The lake and the region, the federal review report said, is ‘one of the few remaining areas of spiritual and cultural importance’ for the Tsilhqot’in First Nations that hasn’t been affected by other industrial activity such as logging.”

“Findings of ‘significant adverse environmental effects’ are rare. The Taseko case is only the third such example in the nearly two-decade history of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The second was the Northgate case (which involved using a lake for tailings storage and was opposed by First Nations given the spiritual importance of the lake) and the first was for a basalt quarry in Nova Scotia, which was turned down by government in 2007.”

“In the book Unnatural Law, David Boyd’s review of the big and small decisions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency between 1995 and 2000, 99.9 per cent of were approved, according to law firm Woodward & Co., counsel for the Tsilhqot’in.”

“Federal government departments have 10 weeks to prepare a recommendation for the federal cabinet. …A final decision will be made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet (by September 2).”

“Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said an approval (by Harper) is ‘unfathomable.'”

“’If the federal cabinet just sweeps away this decision, it’d really be a black day for relations between industry and First Nations,’ said Mr. Phillip…”

To write federal environment minister Jim Prentice to tell him that the Schedule 2 exemption that allows for freshwater lakes – such as Fish Lake – to be turned into tailings ponds must be closed, please go to

The full article is at