FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — There are calls for the resignation of Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett on the heels of what has been described as a damning report by the Auditor-General on enforcement and compliance in the mining industry.
Carol Bellringer’s report emphasizes the critical need for regulatory enforcement and claims the environmental risks of mining are increasing while compliance and enforcement are decreasing.
In the wake of the 2014 Mount Polley Mine tailings pond failure, which occurred during this audit, NDP Leader John Horgan recalls Bennett vowing to resign if an independent investigation proved his ministry was negligent.
Joe Foy, the National Campaign Director of the Wilderness Committee, agrees the minister should step down, but also says the government response needs to go beyond that.
Bennett says the government has accepted all 43 recommendations in the report. But, the Auditor General says it has rejected her call for the creation of an independent mining compliance office to oversee the industry.
However, Bennett does agree with the Auditor General that business as usual at B.C. mine sites ‘simply isn’t good enough’ and Foy adds that includes the coal mines in the South Peace.