The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is likely to have its budget and staff cut according to recent national media reports.
The federal agency that performs environmental assessments for resource development and other projects impacting the environment like Prosperity mine across the country may face a drop in funding from $30 million in 2011 to 2012 to $17 million in 2012 to 2013.
That cut follows a $2.2 million drop in funding in 2010/11. The agency also faces a one third reduction in the number of full-time staff.
A proposal for the New Prosperity Mine by Taseko Mines Ltd. was recently submitted to the federal and provincial governments.
Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse says he’s not surprised by the move to cut the agency.
“The federal process is the process we put all our eggs in and rightfully so. But now the federal process will be limited in what it can do,” Alphonse said predicting the Prosperity application could end up in court especially if the CEAA loses its rigour through cuts.
“The federal review process is not bringing money into them (government) so they’re going to change it. And they’re going to gut it out. Does that mean Prosperity Mine is a go? No,” he said adding, “This is our culture. This is our nature. This is our history and we’re going to oppose this again.
“When it comes time you fight on many different fronts; I’m not talking about road blocks. In a civil country you deal with things the legal way and we’re not shy to walk into that court room. We will do that. We will talk and we will illustrate and we will prove. We’re leaving a paper trail. Because at the end of the day that’s the only defence we have.”
Alphonse says he recently received support from the Assembly of First Nations chiefs by way of a motion supporting the Tsilhqot’in Nation in its opposition to Prosperity and opposing the development of the Prosperity Mine project.
Neither Cariboo-Prince George MP Dick Harris nor Brian Battison, vice-president of corporate affairs for Taseko, could be reached for comment.