The Province

B.C. MPs speak out on mine rejection


Two veteran Conservati­ve MPs are speaking out against their own government after a proposal for a billion-dollar gold and copper mine in British Columbia was rejected by Ottawa for a second time.

Federal Environmen­t Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced late Wednesday that she has rejected the $1.5-billion plan from Taseko Mines Ltd. over environmen­tal concerns.

A broad range of opponents celebrated the decision, including the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“The Taseko project was going to allow them to be trained and skilled and employed in a goodpaying, 25-to-30-year job ... .” — Tory MP Dick Harris

But Conservati­ve MPs Dick Harris and Cathy McLeod both publicly objected.

Harris said he felt “a little bit of despair” about the decision, which shatters the hopes of thousands of people in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region he represents.

He described it as an economical­ly depressed area that many people have been forced to leave to find work elsewhere.

“Taseko mine was their ticket to come back,” Harris said. “The Taseko project was going to allow them to be trained and skilled and employed in a good-paying, 25- to 30-year job in the mine just right out in the area where they live.”

McLeod, who represents the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding, called it a huge blow.

“There are tens of thousands of people in the Cariboo who were looking at this project as a lifeline and an opportunit­y in communitie­s that have been very hard hit,” she said.

The gold and copper deposit where the mine was planned is 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake and is the 10th-largest undevelope­d deposit in the world.

Aglukkaq said she rejected the mine because it would have had significan­t adverse environmen­tal effects that could not be mitigated.

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