Earlier this month, we wrote about the Mount Polley mine disaster in British Columbia. And, as seems to be the case with most stories along these lines, a pattern’s emerging of greed and corruption among the agencies and politicians who are supposed to be looking out for their constituents’ welfare.
Last week, the Vancouver Sun reported that N. Murray Edwards, the controlling shareholder of Imperial Metals, helped organize a $1 million private fundraiser for B.C. Premier Christy Clark and the Liberal Party at the Calgary Petroleum Club last year. Edwards is the controlling shareholder of Imperial Metals, which operates the Mount Polley mine.
He was one of several Alberta power brokers involved in the fundraiser. At the time, Clark’s Liberal Party was losing to the New Democrats in the polls leading up to the British Columbia election, and Edwards and the others wanted a continuation of Clark’s “free enterprise government.” Hmmm – that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Since 2005, Imperial Metals has donated at least $149,890 to the B.C. Liberals, with half of the donations made after Christy Clark was sworn in as premier. The Mount Polley mine as a separate entity added another $46,720. In total, Edwards is linked to six corporations contributing $436, 227 to the Liberal Party over the last nine years.
Clark, needless to say, is grateful for the backing. Three months before the fundraiser, in a address to the University of Calgary’s school of public policy, she hailed Edwards as a “great Calgarian.”
“Mining is an area where we have set some pretty ambitious targets. We’re planning to build 17 new and expanded mines by 2015. Mining revenues have grown by 20 per cent to $8.6 billion since we introduced our Jobs Plan last year, and we’ve done it with the highest standard of sustainable mining in the world, A significant part of our progress in British Columbia comes from people like Murray Edwards, it comes from investors and people who are located right here in Calgary.”
What did Edwards get in return? A streamlined mining application process, an easier environmental review for new mine projects, and extending the new mine allowance and other credits allowing new mines and mine expansions to receive depreciation credits of up to 133 per cent until 2020. Oh, and no PST on capital investments for mining companies.
With the weakened approval process and environmental standards, more Mount Polley style disasters are very likely in British Columbia. The First Nations are fighting back, though; the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council evicted Imperial Metals from their proposed site for the Ruddock Creek Mine after the Mount Polley spill contaminated the Fraser River and sickened the salmon; their major food source.
I remember my first trip through British Columbia very well; it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I’d like to think that future generations will be able to experience it in all its beauty as I did so many years ago. There’s a petition on Change.org asking for the resignation of Christy Clark; if you feel that the First Nation treaties and the environment are more important than profit, please sign it.
People and planet over profit!