VICTORIA B.C. - “I do not call for this lightly. I have spent my career in the climate science field advising provincial, federal, and international governments on their climate policies. Never in my life have I witnessed a government using such outrageous rhetoric to describe subpar efforts to protect the environment,” said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay - Gordon Head and Leader of the B.C. Green Party.
“The ministry’s responsibilities have too often been neglected, forcing citizens to step in and try to protect the environment themselves. British Columbians have been left investigating and mitigating the impacts of environmental tragedies like what happened at the Mt. Polley mine, the Shawnigan contaminated soil facility, and the Bella Bella diesel spill with their own time and money, often employing the courts to force the Ministry to do their job,” said Weaver. “This government’s policy continues to put vested and private interests ahead of their responsibilities they have to the people of British Columbia.
“I now lack confidence in Minister Polak to uphold the obligations outlined in her ministerial mandate letter. As such, I am calling for her to be replaced by a minister who will stand up for the people of B.C. and the water and environment that we all rely on.
“The absence of a real climate policy, the reaction to the Mount Polley tailings pond breach, and the repeated compliance failures at the Shawnigan contaminated soil facility with no real ministerial response are egregious examples that I have tried to work with the Ministry on,” said Weaver. “The Minister's failed response to the diesel spill in Heiltsuk Territory is the last straw for me.
“It is appalling that the B.C. Liberals can look British Columbians in the eye and tell them that they have a climate leadership plan. They are not climate leaders, and they don’t even have a plan. At least when Mr. Harper was Prime Minister we knew where he stood on environmental protection. Premier Clark and the Minister of Environment claim one thing and does the complete opposite.”
Sonia Furstenau, CVRD Director and B.C. Green Party candidate for Cowichan Valley is equally frustrated with the impacts provincial policy is having on her community. “In Shawnigan, we are experiencing first-hand the downside of this government’s insistence on ‘getting to yes’ at all costs. The people of Shawnigan are suffering from ongoing stress and anxiety while the Ministry of Environment allows for ongoing non-compliance with the contaminated landfill permit, and compounding failures at the site. This ministry promised the community that all water leaving this site would meet the strictest aquatic and drinking water guidelines, and already, 20 months into the permit, levels of toluene, copper, iron, manganese, aluminum and more have exceeded these guidelines.”
Furstenau has consistently urged the Minister to act. “Under the Environmental Management Act, misrepresentation during permit application stage and ongoing non-compliance since this company began operations gives the Minister more than adequate grounds to revoke this permit. If she won’t use her authority to revoke this permit and protect the people of Shawnigan Lake, she should step down.”
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For Andrew Weaver
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