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Ass well and truly covered

Photo courtesy of Cariboo Regional District

Photo courtesy of Cariboo Regional District

The announcement about the inquiry into the Mount Polley Dam disaster is outrageous!

As a matter of fact I find it hard to write this article because I simply can’t believe the dishonesty of the minister Bill Bennett and the minister Mary Pollock.

By careful but not very clever design, this inquiry from the outset exonerates Mr. Bennett’s and Ms. Pollock’s ministries. When you look through the 14 recommendations there is one that faintly suggests that the commissioners might want to look at the regulatory regime surrounding this disaster. There is no mandate to do so and it is not any more than a casual comment. Moreover, None of the commissioners have any expertise to look at this aspect of the matter.

I don’t mean this in unfairness to the commissioners – I don’t know the gentlemen but their credentials with respect to mining seem impeccable. But, to check into the regulatory obligations of ministries and whether or not they have been fulfilled requires a lawyer or a judge.

This disaster has two obvious aspects to it, both of critical importance if we are to assess responsibility and determine any changes that may be necessary.

First of all, of course, why did the dam burst? That is a question that will have to be answered by Imperial Metals, the owner of the mine.

There is a second and just as important feature, though -were proper regulations in place, where they properly used and enforced? Was there enough staff to fulfill the mandate these regulations imposed? Is it true that going back to 2001 the Liberal government has gone easy on mines and by reducing staff so they can only fulfill their duties part-time? These and associated questions are critical.

In fact, how in hell can you determine the full responsibility of Imperial Metals unless you know whether or not they were regulated, whether or not they obeyed regulations, and whether or not the regulations were enforced by the ministry?

It is an investigation along these lines that scares the hell out of the premier, the ministers, and the government. I make no pre-judgment but do point out that all of the evidence that has seeped out so far indicates that the government has indeed gone soft on industry and that in fact the ministry has not been able to do its job, not because their people are not competent – quite the opposite – but because there simply has been not enough money and staff provided for them to fulfill their obligations. Those are political responsibilities.

Of course this does not in any way minimize the responsibility of Imperial Metals. It is their mine, their dam, their responsibility completely.

There is, however a concomitant responsibility on the government of British Columbia. Dangerous undertakings require government supervision. This supervision must be thorough. There is no point in having merely perfunctory rules and regulations when you’re dealing with things like dams bursting.

While  we have not heard much from Ms. Polak, Mr. Bennett has been falling all over his tongue since 4 August when this tragedy occurred. He’s gone all away from saying that dams don’t burst, to this one itself did not burst, to admitting that there have been dams bursting all over the world and to admitting that this one did indeed burst after all.

Bennett has shown himself to be utterly incompetent except in one thing – coming up with an investigation that covers his own ass from the very outset.

There really isn’t much more to say than that this dishonest government has got to go. The premier must accept the main responsibility. These are her ministers and she’s the one who has to ensure that they do their job or fire them.

She has however, become so incompetent as a premier it’s hard to blame her for any more because we’re rather getting used to it.

I used the word dishonest – I’ll close with it. It is outrageously dishonest for a government to set up an investigation into a catastrophe which from the very beginning exempts those, themselves, who may have been responsible for that catastrophe happening in the first place.

How long are the people of British Columbia going to put up with this?

4 Responses to “Ass well and truly covered”

  1. Don F. says:

    Very well said Rafe and all readers should take heed.
    This incompetence continues as we see Imperial Metals being approved to drain Polley lake into Quesnel system instead of back into mine site??
    It all gets worse daily.

  2. bob says:

    It’s curious how the salmon commission test fishery has broken down just as the record sockeye run ever is swimming into the mine waste in the Fraser.

    For the first time on record the area 12 seine test fishery fishermen are suddenly unable to catch many fish. Oh darn.

    Is someone working to depress the sockeye return numbers. Just what one would do if one was concerned about the impact of the spill being more than that of an avalanche.

  3. Robb says:

    Will this situation (the dam collapse and the ridiculous, to date, gov’t follow-up) waken anyone to consider that the BC Liberal party be investigated and tried as a criminal organisation. All it takes is to prove that 3 of its members participated in a felony (and there’s no way Clark isn’t in this up to her neck with Bennett and Polak): breach of trust? Who’d investigate: the RCMP? Hah! the IIO? Hah, again. Oh, and barely a “Boo” from the MSM. If the First Nations can’t find a way to get the government in court, we’re all screwed.

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