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NEWS: New Democrats and Liberals oppose the destruction of Fish Lake

On September 13, an NDP media release stated that, “New Democrat MPs from British Columbia are calling on Stephen Harper to stand down and accept an environmental assessment panel’s ruling against a reckless mining proposal. The New Democrats say the so-called Prosperity Mine is a grave threat to fish and wildlife, livelihoods and First Nations’ inherent rights.”

Natural Resources critic Nathan Cullen said, “The independent federal environment assessment panel was clear: Prosperity Mine is not worth the risk. The panel travelled to many communities and heard from many stakeholders. Never in our country’s history has a federal cabinet ignored such a clear assessment and approved a project against a panel’s recommendation. This mine does not meet the standards of sustainable development that British Columbians expect.”

Fisheries critic Fin Donnelly said, “Fish Lake was named for its abundant life. The mine’s proponents want to turn this bountiful, pristine lake into a tailings pond. The federal assessment panel ruled that an artificial lake could not compensate for the loss of this natural lake. Cabinet should support that decision and turn down this application.”

And Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder said, “The Tsilhqot’in people won a difficult court case confirming that decisions concerning resources on their traditional territories must not be made without their input. The Tsilhqot’in and the Secwepemc people downriver depend on Fish Lake as a source of food and cultural practice. That cannot be replaced, and I call on the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to protect First Nations’ interests in this matter.”

On September 20, APTN reported that the new federal Liberal environment critic Gerard Kennedy also opposes the destruction of Fish Lake.

Kennedy said, “There doesn’t seem to be any grounds the federal cabinet could use except simply saying that when it comes to the environment and the economy, the economy wins every time. That is the wrong message to send to Canadians and industry…industry is very capable of coming up with sustainable proposals and we have to tilt things in the direction. …You have to have some principles… When the environment has no choice but to lose out and you can’t offset it or mitigate it in some way, then the environment has to win. That is the bottom line here. …If we can (drain a lake here) we can do it anywhere. We are saying a lake can be bought. Years ago that was the case, but that is not the case today.”

Kennedy also criticized Taseko Mines. He said, “You have an area of claim by First Nations where there is no treaty and that alone should cause things to come to a grinding halt. There has to be respect for Aboriginal rights and the company should know that.”

The NDP media release is at http://www.ndp.ca/press/harper-cannot-allow-prosperity-mine-to-go-ahead-ndp. The APTN news report is at http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2010/09/20/liberals-oppose-bc-prosperity-gold-mine/.

More on the Council of Canadians campaign to defend Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) can be read at http://canadians.org/water/issues/TIAs/teztan-biny.html.

To ‘Write to Environment Minister Jim Prentice and tell him the Schedule 2 loophole must be closed!’, please go to http://canadians.org/action/2010/schedule2.html.