Report lacks credibility

A recent report from the Northwest Institute serves to compare the B.C. environmental review process with that of the federal government.

A recent report from the Northwest Institute serves to compare the B.C. environmental review process with that of the federal government.

It uses the two separate Prosperity mine environmental assessments as examples and it paints a pretty bleak picture indeed.

It is critical of the efforts made by the B.C. government to safeguard our lands, resources and the public interest. At first my alarm bells were definitely going off. Had the anti-Prosperity camp finally sought out some unbiased support for their criticism? They have maintained from the beginning that the provincial environmental review was flawed.

Then I thought, wait a minute. The Northwest who? From where? Hold the phone folks. I Googled the NWI, (remember — having your own three letter acronym or TLA is very important to the credibility of any organization) and found the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research.  I’m not sure what that even means but it appears to be a left-wing enviro-think-tank operating out of Smithers.

That’s right next to Harvard, right? Or was it Oxford? Its board of directors contains two PHDs accompanied by an environmental lawyer, two longtime environmental and human rights activists, an aboriginal rights lawyer and an aboriginal land-use planner but other than executive director Pat Moss, no names that I recognized.

Its website paints a clear picture of its agenda and left-leaning nature.  I’m not claiming the NWI’s report is fictional, but like its assessment of the provincial EA on Prosperity, it lacks credit as an authoritative document because of its source and underlying intent.  I’m sure the NWI believes the report to be the truth — as I’m sure the experts employed by Taseko Mines or the BC EAO believe their own findings — but based on the NWI’s activities, its mission statement and the members of its board, it is unlikely that it has approached its comparison from a purely unbiased point of view. It is a reasonably well-educated special interest group from a small community in a remote area of the province — not that that’s a bad thing to be — we all need something to believe in. For me, this report is not that thing.

Dean Fulton is a freelance columnist for the Tribune and local musician.