ROUSING THE RABBLE: Putting jobs first but at what cost?

Premier Christy Clark could be well on her way to being the B.C. premier with the worst environmental record.

Premier Christy Clark could be well on her way to being the B.C. premier with the worst environmental record ever.

I believe Gordon Campbell’s record was dismal and she appears to be even worse, rivaling that of Alberta’s Ralph Klein – he gave environmental issues short shrift during his reign as premier.

The handling of the Taseko Mines Limited (TML) application to open a copper/gold mine at Fish Lake in the south Cariboo region is an example of what Clark believes and how she behaves.

Maintaining a healthy natural environment that has supported a First Nations way of life for thousands of years isn’t part of her vision. Opening mines, drilling for shale gas, building hydro power lines and power plants take precedence it seems.

Clark commended B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) for its speedy assessment of the 2010 TML proposal and criticized the federal government for rejecting the application after a long and thorough review process.

At the time of the federal announcement in 2010, she called for a combined federal and provincial assessment process with a much shorter time frame than when the two bodies worked separately.

Prior to the federal government announcement that the TML proposal would receive an environmental review, the Clark government quietly issued permits to the company to begin building roads and conduct exploratory drilling at 59 sites in preparation for the full-scale operation.

As a result of the government’s actions, the Tsilhqot’in have filed a petition in BC Supreme Court to suspend the permits for road building and preparatory drilling.

Chief Baptiste of the Tsilhqot’in Nation ordered trucks off the property, telling the drivers that they were trespassing. In response, TML filed for an injunction against the Tsilhqot’in seeking to bar them from preventing the entry of the company’s workers into the area.

The Tsilhqot’in were in court on Monday, Nov. 28 seeking injunctions to prevent the company from entering their traditional territory. Premier Clark is so immersed in her program to provide jobs that she may have lost all perspective.

It’s possible she could encourage speedy approval of the applications from mining companies for five mines in the northwest corner of the province, in an area described by Wade Davis (anthropologist, author and photographer) as the most beautiful and imperiled region in the country, where three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers run (the Stikine, Nass and Skeena).

The headwaters of the three rivers are located in close proximity in what the First Nations people call the Sacred Headwaters. Against the wishes of the First Nations, the B.C. government has allowed Imperial Metals to explore for minerals in the region with the object of eventually opening the Red Chris mine. Royal Dutch Shell also wants access to the area to extract methane gas.

Clark likely supports such industrial activities because they provide jobs and that’s what she probably hopes will keep her government in office. Get more people in B.C. working. Damn the environment!

Environmental assessments just get in the way and slow down progress toward prosperity for the shareholders of large industrial companies who will reap the benefits.

With Clark’s blessing, BC Hydro is now busy ramming through a power line from Terrace to Bob Quinn and then to Iskut, 105 km further north into the Sacred Headwaters territory.

The excuse for the line is to bring power to the residents who have had to depend on diesel generators for decades.

Clark is being highly provocative in her actions in efforts to fulfill her dream of providing jobs.

– Roy Ronaghan is a columnist for the Grand Forks Gazette