Did the BC government fail in its duty to release important information-without an FOI-that contained any evidence of : “…a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public or a group of people”.

Some think so: https://fipa.bc.ca/release-bc-government-had-obligation-to-release-tailings-pond-info/

And I agree. The duty to protect all and any life and environment comes before everything.

It all comes down to who knew what… when? http://pacificgazette.blogspot.ca/2014/08/mount-polley-disasterthey-all-knew-ch-3.html

Will we see any resignations now?

VANCOUVER, B.C.—The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association has filed a complaint with the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner over the BC government’s failure to release information in its possession about the now-collapsed Mt. Polley tailings pond.


Section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) requires a public body to release information “without delay” without a FOI request where there is “…a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public or a group of people”.

“The situation in Mount Polley certainly seems meet the law’s requirements,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “If the government had information about past problems with the dam around the tailings pond, they should have informed local residents as required by law.”

Following an earlier complaint by BC FIPA and the UVic Environmental Law Clinic about public bodies failing to release information under this section, Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham investigated the situation. In a report released in December 2013, Commissioner Denham found the BC government failed to carry out its legal duty to release information prior to the collapse of the Testalinden Dam in Oliver.


She also made a number of recommendations for improvements.

“When the Commissioner recommends action on release of information affecting health and safety or the environment we should expect that the government would take action,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “It is important for the Commissioner to investigate not just to see if the BC government has again broken the law, but also to see if they have done anything to implement her recommendations.”

23 thoughts on “Did the BC government fail in its duty to release important information-without an FOI-that contained any evidence of : “…a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public or a group of people”.

  1. Resignation? Surely you jest. A liberal resign over some “mistake”? Really! Give up the job? Give up the perks? Give up the salary, pension? O.K. in other countries, even in Canada, politicians once resigned when things in their dept. went terribly wrong. However, those days are sadly gone. To resign over an environmental disaster, such as the one you are writing about, would mean taking responsibility. Taking responsibility isn’t something this crop of lieberals are known for. Campbell only resigned when faced with an M.L.A. revolt and had a cushy job waiting for him in London. Unless a “cushy” job is found for anyone responsible for this mess, don’t hold your breath waiting for a resignation or any form of acknowledgement anything went wrong.

    This government hasn’t taken responsibility for the high rate of child poverty in this province for the past 10 years and I don’t expect they will take responsibility for this mess either. The Premier hasn’t taken responsibility for the high deficient in this province, nor do I expect she will. If Bennett does resign, I would suggest, it will only be because Christy Clark throws him under the bus.

    If this government had any sense of dignity, responsibility, etc. we would have seen the resignation of Christie Clark, Bill Bennett, Terry Lake, and Pollack. There is little I am sure of in this life. But I’d bet my next cheque those 4 won’t be resigning as “the right thing to do” and all 4 most likely will run in the next election. I’d even bet you $50 to the charity of your choice, they would win.

    Most people in this province don’t see this environmental disaster as effecting their lives. There has not been a lot of visuals on this, so that people can understand the magnitude of it. By today this has become “old news” and pushed out of the “limelight” by more recent news. By next week, , we will hear little about this except perhaps on APTN because of the impact on First Nations.

    The real impact of a disaster such as this may not be seen for another 20 yrs, when the poisons in the tailing pond has worked its way through the environmental system and comes back as part of the food chain. At that time some may wonder why there is a higher rate of cancer in some areas and some one remembers what happened last week.


    1. Well-said and completely true. Beginning with Campbell’s’s arrest for drunk driving and his refusal to resign, the current Liberal government adopted a policy of just ignoring demands for resignation. They have refused to adhere to any ethics or acknowledgement of responsibility and, since people still reward them by voting for them there’s no need for them to accept responsibility.


  2. Yesterday I met an acquaintance on the beach and I asked her what she thought of the mining disaster up in the Cariboo. She said, “Well, I’m glad to hear it’s not nearly as bad as originally thought.”

    See how a couple of photo ops and a few well-placed BC Liberal press releases can fool the gullible general public? Why don’t people care enough to read something other than the propaganda from the BC government?


    1. Gini, thank you for sharing your friend’s comment. There was much more in the way of “visuals” when the Johnston Landing occurred. All the pictures on the news certainly gave us an idea of the magnitude of that disaster. this time not so much. Even the O.K. lake slide 4 yrs ago, had more pictures.


        1. And those aerials were taken about 12 hours after the breach. Try to imagine the velocity of that tsunami of waste water for the first six hours or so.


        2. Laila, I would like to thank you for posting this. WE can all now send this on to friends and family so everyone, knows the magnitude of the break and the damage. This is what all people in B.C. need to see and be reminded of. This clearly shows the damage done and the size of the area impacted. If our government let this happen and “does nothing” then we know they will let more of this happen. Next time, people die. It was fortunate no one died in this destruction.


  3. Well, I would say? Christy Clark’s mine Barons are just as greedy as Harper’s oil and gas Barons. Canada has become a cesspool of corruption. The BC Liberals are completely corrupt, especially since Gorgon Campbell’s reign of terror. Christy is just another Campbell in a skirt.

    Deregulating safety standards, Deregulating environment standards. Stripping the Environment Ministry of funding. Permitting resource Barons to run their projects, with severe shortages of staff? Bringing over foreigners for the resource Barons to exploit? Another safety hazard, they say nothing regarding abuses. Some don’t understand the language well enough.

    Both Harper and Christy Clark’s BC Liberals, wear this one. However. They all lie like sidewalks and I don’t doubt for a minute? Harper will be working like a whirlwind, to get all of them out of their crimes. No doubt the BC tax payers will be stuck paying the damage. They are all excellent at thieving our tax dollars too.

    Just think? Harper may send Christy to his dumping ground, for his degenerates in the U.K. That would make three. Gordon Campbell, Nigel Wright and Christy Clark. Quite the motley crew.


  4. Listening to Old Spittle-Face Bennet yesterday on CBC, he didn’t budge off his claim that this has never ever happened before—despite many examples cited by callers and interviewer. This is nothing new for Bennet, who is notoriously unapologetic. That attitude actually got him temporarily booted from caucus ( sputum-splatered with Gordo “Not-A-Nice-Man” goo all over his gob), but now, under the Princess Warrior of Whopper’s rule, Bennet can be even more unapologetic about his unapologeticism—and wallow in his own whopperism. He even feigned taking “offence” at the suggestion that the government or his ministry knew anything about concerns at Mount Polley, evidence notwithstanding. Bennet’s bald face is lies with eyes.


  5. I’m searching for the internal docs shared with prospective miners and advising them to avoid FOI embarrassments by ensuring there’s nothing incriminating in their documentation. Will get back to you, hopefully before they find it first and delete it!
    But yes, the Province knew of the expansion and crowed about it. From their own mining circular publication:
    “The Mount Polley copper-gold-silver mine of Imperial Metals Corporation continued a successful search for resources outside the main producing Springer pit. Exploratory drilling at the Springer pit increased reserves, enabling further expansion of the pit, extended mine life by two years (to 2025 and found ore-grade mineralization hundreds of metres below the current pit shell. Wall pushback continued at the Caribou pit for most of the year and began contributing ore to the mill in the third quarter. Over 500 metres of ramps, cross-cuts, and raises were constructed in the Boundary zone to allow underground drilling and preparation for test mining, while underground drilling also explored the nearby Zuke zone. ”

    Click to access IC_2014-01.pdf

    Also see the Federal mining law changes: “The proposed amendments would allow the Detour Lake Gold Mine to use four water bodies for tailings impoundment when the capacity of existing tailings and waste rock disposal areas is reached beginning in 2019. The proposed amendments were published in the Canada Gazette Part I on February 8, 2014, for a 30-day public comment period, which ended on March 10, 2014.

    Also noteworthy are Environment Canada’s plans to streamline the approvals process for metal mines with Tailings Impoundment Areas by exempting future requests to add water bodies to Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations from publication in Part 1 of the Canada Gazette.”


  6. Sorry, the FIPPA reference was related to the LNG regulation manual but mining falls under the BC Oil and Gas commission so I’m betting the same FIPPA exemptions would apply.
    LNG Facility Permit and Operations Manual: “1.4.10 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
    Applicants will be submitting sensitive information to the Commission as part of the approval processes under the LNGFR. As a public body, the Commission is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA). FOIPPA is designed to make public bodies accountable by providing the public with a legislated right of access to government records. Under FOIPPA an organization or member of the public can make a request for access to information possessed by public bodies.
    The legislation contains a number of exemptions to requests for disclosure. Under Section 21 of FOIPPA government agencies must withhold from public disclosure commercial or financial information of outside businesses if releasing the information would cause harm to the business. This section of FOIPPA applies if:
    the information would reveal third party trade secrets, or, the commercial, financial, labour relations, scientific or technical information of a third party, or about a third party;
    the information was supplied in confidence; and, disclosure of the information could result in one or more specified
    harms. It is recommended that applicants label any protected information submitted to the Commission as such. For more information on the application of FOIPPA refer to the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services’ FOIPP Act Policy and Procedures Manual.”

    Interestingly, its title says it’s the “penultimate” draft of the manual.


  7. I spoke to a friend in Calgary this evening and its still a news item there and its still being discussed as a disaster. Not a thing on the news here in B.C. I guess they think if they don’t report on it, it didn’t happen. It will be entertaining when all the law suits hit the fan.
    The Calgary news also reported on the First Nations opinion on the on going health concerns. Yes, I know our provincial government says all is well. Fortunately First Nations don’t take Christie and her clowns at their word.


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