NEW DEMOCRATS CALL ON THE GOVERNMENT TO GET SERIOUS ON PROTECTION OF FISH LAKE

OTTAWA – New Democrats today called on the Government to commit to the protection of British Columbia’s environment by blocking a proposed mining development in the province’s interior.

“The minister has a responsibility to protect Fish Lake.” said New Democrat Fisheries critic Fin Donnelly “We know that the federal government has already determined that the mine would be too damaging to fish and fish habitat. When will this government stand up for British Columbians and do what’s right?”

Donnelly was reacting to the Taseko Mines Ltd proposal to open a gold and copper mine in Tsilhqot'in territory in British Columbia. A decision from cabinet, expected any day now, would allow the Government to turn Fish Lake into a “tailing impoundment area”, a dumping site for the mine. The development would result in the complete destruction of a 111 hectare, enormously productive rainbow trout ecosystem, contrary to the mandate of the Fisheries Minister.

Recent documents confirm that as early as 1995, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans believed that pursing the mine project was a waste of time as neither the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans nor the Minister of Environment could approve the loss of this rare and fish-rich lake.

“In 1995 the federal department rejected the project. What has changed? We know that Taseko has hired new lobbyists’ to meet with government officials, what are they telling this government that we don’t know?”

Earlier this week it was acknowledged that the BC Liberal government reversed a previous decision on Fish Lake when it approved the mine. Taseko donated $30,192 to the BC Liberal election campaign.

“The Federal Fisheries minister has a duty to protect fish and fish habitat and therefore cannot approve this mine project.” said Donnelly