Contrary to what Bernard von Schulmann says in his editorial on New Democrat mining policy, the last New Democrat government advanced a significant number of mining projects. We hope to continue the positive working relationship we have had with the mining industry in the past, into the future.
What I and other New Democrats have heard consistently from the industry is that certainty on the land base, or more specifically lack of it, from an environmental approval perspective and a First Nations aboriginal title perspective is the single biggest impediment to investment and development for the mining sector in this province.
What we have seen from the Liberals in both these areas is an approach that leaves us unable to unlock B.C.'s potential as a leader in responsible mineral development. By engaging in a divisive "environment or jobs" approach, and failing to engage in fair and respectful negotiations with many First Nations, the Liberals have actually undermined certainty on the land base and slowed projects down.
In contrast, our approach would be to revamp the environmental assessment process as one mechanism to enhance certainty from environmental approval and First Nations partnership perspectives. A process that stakeholders trust would actually help to avoid the situation of unnecessary delays that the current government creates.
Mr. von Schulmann says that our plan to create more certainty using a reformed environmental assessment process as one tool will "stop all mining projects in the province."
I disagree based on what I have heard and read from industry leaders and from my experience of more than two decades living and working in Northwest B.C. which Mr. von Schulmann accurately describes as the area of the province where most of the mining projects for the next decade are proposed.
Doug Donaldson was elected as MLA for Stikine on May 12, 2009 after four terms as a municipal councillor in Hazelton. Mr. Donaldson serves as the New Democrat deputy critic for energy, mines and petroleum and deputy critic for finance and public accounts. He also deputy chair of the select standing committee on finance and government services.