NEWS RELEASE · 22nd June 2011
BC Conservative Party
Cummins on Prosperity Mine: Natural Resources are owned by all British Columbians, native and non-native alike.
While speaking at a luncheon in Williams Lake on June 20, 2011, John Cummins, leader of the BC Conservatives, discussed natural resources in general and Taseko Mines Ltd.’s Prosperity gold-copper project in particular.
“Natural resources are owned by all British Columbians, native and non-native alike, and held in trust for all of us by the provincial government. We believe in community consultation, but believe that no one community or group is more important than any other,” stated Mr. Cummins. “But we do not take the position, as the Liberals do, that there is inherent native title to all of BC, and the Supreme Court of Canada agrees with our position.”
In the Bernard and Marshall decision in 2005 the Supreme Court of Canada found that aboriginal title must be based on strict evidence of the aboriginal activity and exclusive control and occupation of a defined tract of land. The vague claims of “traditional hunting grounds” do not qualify as evidence; the existence of aboriginal title has never been found in any Supreme Court decision.
“We believe that those resources belong to every British Columbian, and for the government to pander to certain group is nothing short of the abdication of their responsibility.”
“The big issue here in Williams Lake is the Prosperity Mine proposed by Taseko Mines Ltd.,” continued Mr. Cummins. “This is an amazing project that will create jobs, investment and wealth, in Williams Lake and around the whole region. The way Christy Clark has handled this file is shameful. About a year and a half ago the mine was approved by the provincial government’s environmental assessment process. Now what does she say? Her government is asking for further consultation with the local native groups.”
The Prosperity deposit is the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposit in Canada. The development application for this project was reviewed under the BC Environmental Assessment Act and the Canadian Environmental Act. In 2010 the Federal Government decided that the project did not meet all of the criteria required, while the provincial Liberal government granted Taseko the right to proceed with development. Since then, the Liberals have reneged on this agreement, adding extra considerations to the project.
A new BC Conservative government will negotiate with Ottawa to create one unified single environmental assessment process, modeled on BC’s current system; which takes into account social and economic impacts of a project.