Tuesday 4th August 2020

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Defining a problem

Canada continues to expand its interpretation of environmental issues

by Greg Klein

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Amnesty International has not only joined the campaign against a Canadian mining proposal. It’s been granted “interested party” status by a federal environmental review panel. So has a nationalist group, the Council of Canadians. The news suggests that Canada has expanded its definition of “environmental” issues even further than the cultural and spiritual matters, and native rights and potential rights, that it has previously considered.

Canada continues to expand its interpretation of environmental issues

That’s the result of legislation passed last June. At the time environmentalists were critical, saying the new law would weaken the review process for resource proposals. But this announcement from a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency review panel seems to suggest otherwise.

The three-member panel was appointed by the CEAA to review the $1.1-billion New Prosperity Gold-Copper Project proposed by Taseko Mines TSX:TKO for south-central British Columbia. On October 12 the panel announced its selection of interested parties from the groups and individuals who applied for the distinction. Although the panel will also hear from the public, “only those persons with interested party status will be permitted to participate in all aspects of the review during the public hearing phase,” the announcement stated.

An international human rights organization and a Canadian nationalist group made the cut. According to the panel they’re directly affected by the project, or have relevant information or expertise. The panel’s announcement stated that “the explicit definition of ‘interested party’ and the requirement for the panel to determine whether a person qualifies as an interested party are new” under last June’s legislation. To define interested parties, “the panel has followed a liberal and generous approach.”

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