BC Liberals mum on mine’s donations

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

The BC Liberal party won’t comment on donations it has received from a mining company now receiving lobbying help in Ottawa from the provincial energy minister.

Bill Bennett will be in the nation’s capital Thursday to gain federal approval for a proposed mine that has twice been ruled to threaten the environment.

The project, called New Prosperity, is proposed by Taseko Mines, which has donated more than $100,000 to the BC Liberals since 2008.

According to Elections BC, Taseko Mines contributed $5,000 alone to Bennett’s campaign in 2013, and once contributed a $50,000 lump sum to the BC Liberals in 2012.

The company has also contributed to other BC Liberal candidates, including Gordon Hogg, Ella Brown and Randy Hawes.

The BC Liberals wouldn’t comment on the donations, but Bennett told 24 hours through an email sent by staff the mine will provide employment, which is why he’s making the trip.

“I am travelling to Ottawa to make the federal government aware of the tremendous need for this project in the Cariboo region and of the expertise and processes we have here in British Columbia to ensure that environmental risks are mitigated,” Bennett wrote.

“I will be encouraging the federal government to approve this project and to allow the province to apply its comprehensive Environmental Assessment and Mines Act process to ensure the environmental risks are mitigated and all conditions are enforced.”

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency recently concluded the New Prosperity project near Taseko Lake would have “significant adverse environmental effects.”

A federally sanctioned panel made a similar conclusion in 2010.

BC NDP environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said the donations and minister’s trip could cause the public to be dismayed with government.

“We look at issues like this and it creates cynicism,” said Chandra Herbert. “That’s, I think, why we need to ban corporate and union donations.”

The New Prosperity Mine will ultimately be approved or rejected by the federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.


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