The Harper government’s selective application of the Fisheries Act is astounding.
Jim Prentice announced Environment Canada’s new national standards for municipal wastewater plans, which would penalize municipalities dumping raw sewage into Canadian waterways under the Fisheries Act. Of course, the Harper government has no plans to address the 31 billion dollar deficit in municipal infrastructure that would enable municipalities to upgrade their facilities. Instead, as mentioned in a previous blog post, this new plan will force municipalities to turn to private sector financing. In fact, for projects that require over 50 million dollars, municipalities must prove that they have examined private sector contracts (i.e. build an expensive and elaborate case for it, if they want to keep services public) under the new “Building Canada Fund.” This new plan is just one new dimension to the Harper governments’ privatization agenda. Copies of the draft regulations can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prentice told an audience in Brockville Ontario yesterday that “all Canadians have a responsibility to take action to protect our water.” Meanwhile, this responsibility to protect water will not apply to metal mining companies who are able to apply to have lakes and rivers exempted from the protections of the Fisheries Act. Under a loophole called Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation of the Fisheries Act, lakes and rivers in Canada are being reclassified as “Tailing Impoundment Areas” (TIAs) by which they are not protected from toxic dumping under the Fisheries Act.
This week, the Council of Canadians and MiningWatch will accompany elders from the Tshilqot’in First Nation who are in Ottawa to call on the government to prevent the destruction of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) by a copper-gold mining project. The Tshilq’otin have fished for generations in the lake that is home to a unique species of Rainbow Trout. Taseko Mines has applied to drain the lake in order to stockpile waste rock. The company also plans to use nearby Fish Creek and Little Fish Lake as TIAs. Toxic mining waste is expected to contaminate the salmon-bearing Taseko river and eventually the Chilcotin River, which empties into the Fraser River. The BC government has approved the project and it is now in the hands of the federal government. The federal public hearings on Taseko’s proposal begin March 22.
Four lakes in Canada have already been reclassified as TIAs, including Sandy Pond near Long Harbour in Newfoundland. There are at least a dozen more lakes and rivers slated for destruction.
In our meetings with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada this week, we will be sure to quote Prentice on the need to protect water.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.