Saying nothing while using a lot of words isn’t new for politicians. However, when I made a motion several weeks ago that the TNRD ask for a federal panel review of the Ajax project I was hoping there would be either a yes answer, or at least an explanation if the answer was no.
Instead, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna gave no answer at all. Or maybe the answer was no, without using the actual word. Or was it maybe?
Her letter, dated June 9, to TNRD Chair John Ranta is a masterful exercise in fuzzy-worded avoidance. It does include some bafflegab about comprehensiveness of the current federal-provincial process but makes no attempt to answer the actual question that we asked.
I’d hoped this government might be different but I guess not.
If any mine project deserves to be referred to a federal review panel, it’s this one.
The main criteria for such a review, which includes a comprehensive process carried out by a panel of experts as well as full-fledged public hearings, are that the project involves significant environmental impact and public concern.
This is the second time the TNRD has stated its preference for a federal review panel. The City of Kamloops has also asked twice.
What does it take to convince Ottawa of the necessity of the most stringent review process possible? What does it take to even get a straight answer?
Here’s the text of the letter from McKenna:
Dear Mr. Ranta:
Thank you for your correspondence of March 24, 2016, concerning the adverse effects of the Ajax Mine Project proposed by KGHM Ajax Mining Incorporated (the proponent) and your request that the Project be assessed by a review panel.
I appreciate you sharing your views regarding our Government’s approach in environmental assessment and the potential environmental effects of the Project. The Project is subject to a federal comprehensive study environmental assessment under the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) and British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office are carrying out a cooperative environmental assessment process. They completed a joint 75-day public comment period on the proponent’s detailed Environmental Impact Statement on April 11, 2016. The Agency is currently conducting an in-depth review of the public comments. I have provided your submission to my officials at the Agency so that it may be taken into account as part of this review.
I look forward to you continued participation in the environmental assessment of the Project.
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change.