CBC News has learned that 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly "reclassified" as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland.
How is it that I'm not even shocked to find that there would be collusion between industry and government to finagle the means to abandon responsible environmental practices for the sake of the almighty dollar. The very idea of condemning entire lakes as toxic waste sites to avoid the expense of dealing with industrial waste is offensive and vulgar. There must have been some fancy footwork whenever the Fisheries Act was written to accommodate this provision.
Under the Fisheries Act, it's illegal to put harmful substances into fish-bearing waters. But, under a little-known subsection known as Schedule Two of the mining effluent regulations, federal bureaucrats can redefine lakes as "tailings impoundment areas."
Canada's has long been a largely resource based economy. We will continue to base much of our economy in the resource sector but we are no longer ignorant of the consequences of our actions. Current panic about oil prices have underlined the societal trouble of resource scarcity. There is no more vital or valuable resource than water. We can exist without gorging on petroleum based products, our use of that resource could be modified. We cannot exist without water. It is a betrayal of trust for our government, empowered to act as stewards of our nation, our resources and our environment to simply give entire lakes over to private interests as toxic sinks. If mining companies and industrial polluters want to spoil entire landscapes and watersheds they should be required to pay. What is the price of bottled spring water? About a buck and a half a liter. Seems like a fair price to me. How much does the volume of an entire lake cost at those prices?
This all makes me ashamed of my country.
A test case: the Red Chris Mine in northwestern B.C.
Last fall, a Federal Court judge ruled that federal bureaucrats acted illegally in trying to fast-track the Red Chris copper and gold mine without a full and public environmental review.
The decision put the project on hold, but late last week, the Federal Appeals Court reversed the decision, paving the way for federal officials to declare lakes to be dumps without public consultation.
Imperial Metals said in a release Monday that federal authorities "are now authorized to issue regulatory approvals for the Red Chris project to proceed," although the matter could still be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In the earlier decision, Justice Luc Martineau overturned the decision by federal officials to skip a public review, saying it "has all the characteristics of a capricious and arbitrary decision which was taken for an improper purpose."
Mr Harper and his crooked gang of despoilers had best fire up the smokescreens because the early reaction to this news doesn't bode well. Comments on the CBC site are many and furious. This cuts across ideological lines, Canadians are enormously proud of our country's natural splendour. The wholesale giveaway of entire lakes as toxic dump sites will not go without protest. The utter and shameful disregard for the people and fauna that rely on these waters is criminal.