EDITORIAL – How can coming to see for yourself be inappropriate?

One view of open-pit mining. (KGHM Ajax photo)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER George Heyman’s refusal to come to Kamloops to talk about Ajax defies the normal bounds of logic, but politics is only occasionally logical.

Heyman says in a letter to City council through Acting Major Arjun Singh: “it would be inappropriate for Ministers to engage in discussions with parties regarding the Ajax project and the forthcoming environmental assessment decision at this stage of the process.”

Let’s get back to that in a minute. Heyman goes on at some length telling the City things it already knows, much better than Heyman does, in fact.

When a cabinet minister puts in writing that “I understand that this report” and “I am told that” in reference to the joint federal-provincial report that is at the root of the City’s concerns, there’s reason to worry.

It’s that very report that the minister is supposed to read and understand as the basis for making the decision on Ajax.

He then goes on with a lot of blah blah about the comment period and, of all things, encourages council to read the joint assessment report and draft provincial summary assessment report, even directing council to a section beginning on page 13 that mentions concerns about the project.

Those reports are exactly what council is worried about — after reading them. How can coming to Kamloops to discuss the content of a crucial report that will play a major role in Heyman’s decision be in any way inappropriate? How could coming to see the mine site for himself and to appreciate firsthand how huge it will be and how close to a major B.C. city be inappropriate?

The process, he reassures council, is designed to “ensure the process is fully transparent.” Not enough for him to come see for himself, obviously.

Council members had quite the discussion Tuesday about “poking” politicians on Ajax. Singh is of the view that the best approach is to play Mr./Ms. Nice Guy. Others on council are all for doing some poking. They’re deadlocked at 3-3 on the approach.

Council played the Nice Guy role for six years. That’s what got us to where we are now — an environment minister who hasn’t yet read the report or come for a look-see giving the town the brush-off.

About Mel Rothenburger (6121 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

8 Comments on EDITORIAL – How can coming to see for yourself be inappropriate?

  1. Everyone, pro and con alike should avail themselves of the opportunity of taking the time to have a look at the open pit copper mine,now abandoned off the Johnson Lake road,which is about half way to Adams lake via Squam Bay road at Louis Creek. It’s not very big but you won’t forget it for awhile.

    • Do you have any photos that can go along with an article for the media?
      Is that the site that continues to leak toxins and a large holding pond had to be built with monitoring for the next several years?

  2. Dieter Dudy // August 31, 2017 at 9:59 AM // Reply

    In all fairness Deputy Mayor Singh’s poke, poke remarks were not directed at the respective ministers but at the the BCEAO. It is somewhat pointless to get into a war of words with an assessment body that has pretty much made up their minds already. It is more important to lobby the decision makers by using any means possible…including poke…poke. I too am sorely disappointed by Minister Heyman’s refusal to come to Kamloops to see first hand what effect this project can have on the community (from both perspectives) one would think that would go a long way to helping him arrive at an informed decision. As I’ve said before…governments come and governments go…beaurocracy remains the same.

    • Mel Rothenburger // August 31, 2017 at 3:50 PM // Reply

      Arjun’s “poke, poke, poke” comment came in discussion of Denis Walsh’s motion to ask the leaders of the three major political parties to support suspending the process, not during the discussion of the invitation to the BCEAO.

  3. For me, this emphasizes just how upside down the approval process actually is. If a proposed development (‘mine’ in this case) was to be located out in the middle of nowhere, with nobody close enough to notice or be directly impacted, it would clearly be the job of the Environmental Assessment Office to provide the necessary duty of care to the province and population in general. That is, with the assumption that the EAO is truly impartial and fact-based… everyone will have their own opinion on how realistic that assumption actually is!

    But KGHM isn’t proposing a mine in the sticks. It’s literally in our back yard and the impacts will potentially be felt on a daily basis. The EAO shouldn’t have been involved until the population of the City *overwhelmingly* demanded that the mine go ahead. That demand should have been the first hurdle! The oversight processes would be triggered after the demand, to ensure the masses knew what they were getting themselves into and weren’t simply driven by greedy self-interest at the expense of the rest of the province and population.

    “Greedy self-interest”… that reminds me… tell me again… why are the pro mine forces “pro”??

  4. You have said why he should come to Kamloops to speak with our Acting Mayor and city council. As a former executive director of the Sierra Club, one might think that he would have a better grasp of the situation and your concerns. Remember that he is surrounded by a crowd of political hacks and advisers. The election is over, speaking from your perspective and that of three members of city council, we can hope that the two local MLAs can put his feet to the fire. The provincial election is over and the previous governing party is a distant memory. Lastly, consider why he should not come here to discuss the situation with Acting Mayor and council.

  5. Cindy Ross Friedman // August 31, 2017 at 4:52 AM // Reply

    Nailed it as always, Mr. ChairMayor. What better way to understand the proposed mine then to see the proposed mine site? And it must not be forgotten that another motion also called for any interested parties to be given the opportunity to meet with the Ministers. Thus Council had essentially provides KGHM access to lobby! Could not be “less inapproptiate”. (Sorry Grammar types – I speak double negative not infrequently).

    And more: we do still await a response from the Minister of Energy, Minesm and Petroleum Products. Lobby Hon. M. Mungall hard.

    And make another motion: involve the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. The NDP talk about the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: force it.

    It is a street brawl now. Please fight for us.

  6. John Noakes // August 31, 2017 at 4:52 AM // Reply

    Both MLA’s of Kamloops should be going to bat for our City with the message to the Environment minister that it is his job and responsibility to come.
    The figure 90,000 is tossed around a lot and that is our present population. But, the actual figure for the number of people who could potentially be affected by this mine (even over its 20 years of operation) is much greater.
    The Premier came to see the effects of the wildfires and he experienced the choking levels of smoke. That was his duty to do so and the public now knows Mr. Horgan played a personal role along with us.
    There has been no transparency in the entire process of Ajax. The big question should be, “Why should it start now?”

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