The Federal Crown proceeded to stay MiningWatch Canada’s private prosecution against the Mount Polley Mining Corporation and the BC Government over the 2014 tailings breach in Williams Lake Provincial Court on Monday.
Miningwatch Canada Program Coordinator, Ugo Lapointe says this was not a surprise.
“The Crown did indicate its’ interest to stay the charges as of January. Now it was officially recorded yesterday. Yesterday, we announced 25,000 petitioners to push the federal government and the federal Minsters to enforce Canadian and environmental laws so we will continue to do so in the coming weeks.”
Lapointe says MiningWatch Canada is exploring the option of taking the case to a higher court to challenge the Crown’s unilateral decision to stay the charges before they had a chance to present evidence of the damages from the spill to the Court.
Crown asserts two reasons to stay the charges:
1) insufficient evidence from MiningWatch to warrant charges at this time
2) need to wait for the completion of an ongoing investigation by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and B.C. Conservation officer.
On those points, MiningWatch stated:
1) the Crown should have let MiningWatch present the fulsome of its evidence to Court before making this unfounded judgment
2) We do not understand why allowing MiningWatch to present its evidence would imperil the ongoing investigation or the Crown’s ability to proceed with its own charges later. We also expressed concerns about the complete lack of transparency and results from this investigation so far, which is an additional reason for our intervention.
“I think people need to start realizing that it’s crucial that the government needs to make public the results of the federal investigation fairly quickly,” says Lapointe.
“According to some environmental laws, there is a statute limitation of 3 years for Crown to file charges. In other words in August of this year, it will be the third year after the spill happened and if the Crown doesn’t lay charges before that mark it will miss the boat to lay charges…and that’s coming quickly.”