VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberal government wasted $21 million of taxpayers’ money to cover up their own incompetence in handling a uranium mining ban implemented in 2008, say the New Democrats.
New Democrat energy and mines critic John Horgan said the uranium mining ban was implemented on April 24, 2008, three days after mining company Boss Power had applied for a Notice of Work permit. The government failed to process that permit, despite a legal obligation to do so, after the Chief Inspector of Mines was instructed not to process it.
In October 2011, the Liberals settled with the company on the courthouse steps for $30 million. The opposition New Democrats questioned the extraordinary cost of the settlement, and filed a freedom of information request for the government’s independent evaluations. Court documents finally released after a five-month delay show the fair value recommended in a government-commissioned report to be between $4.4 million and $6.7 million. A court-appointed industry expert later determined a more fair evaluation to be $8.7 million.
“This is incompetence and mismanagement at the highest levels,” said Horgan. “The Liberals could have settled this claim for as little as $4 million, but once Boss found out about the Liberals’ interference in the process, negotiations took a turn for the worse for taxpayers.
“British Columbians deserve to hear the Liberal government explain why they handed over an extra $21 million on the courthouse steps to avoid testifying in court.”
“When the $30 million settlement came to light last October, court documents revealed the Liberals admitted to breaking the law by not processing the Notice of Work,” said Leonard Krog, New Democrat critic for attorney general. “They had a legal obligation to process that application one way or another, and went against their own legal counsel by deliberately ignoring it.
“This looks like another settlement on the courthouse steps to prevent the Liberals from having to take the witness stand, just like with the $6 million paid out to convicted Liberal insiders in the B.C. Rail scandal.”
Horgan and Krog, along with MLAs Shane Simpson and Mike Farnworth, raised the issue with the Liberal energy minister in question period in the legislature Tuesday.
Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats are holding the Liberal government to account and bringing forward positive solutions now to benefit all British Columbians.