What do you think about metal mining companies getting an 'okay' from government to destroy water bodies with toxic mine tailings?
If you're thinking "I disagree with that!" then you share an opinion with 96% of Canadians, according to the results of a Léger Marketing national opinion poll* commissioned by Nature Canada earlier this month.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise to you that Canadians overwhelmingly oppose the a legal loophole that permits metal mining companies to dump mine waste into natural lakes. The opinion poll showed that 96% of Canadians either "somewhat" or "strongly" disagree with metal mining companies converting natural water bodies into ‘impoundment areas’ for toxic mine tailings using the Schedule 2 loophole in the federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (created under the Fisheries Act). Without the Schedule 2 loophole, which is actually a list of water bodies in which tailings of any toxicity can be deposited, this practice of wasting lakes would otherwise contravene the Fisheries Act.
Another amazing result from the poll showed that even in these difficult economic times, nearly all Canadians are more concerned with protecting natural water bodies than they are the potential cancellation of a valuable mining project. Fully 98% of respondents stated they would still be opposed to dumping waste in a lake even if prohibiting the practice meant a mine project – and the associated jobs – might be cancelled.
I think these results overwhelmingly demonstrate that Canadians love their waterscapes. Water bodies define Canada culturally, spiritually, historically and emotionally and are readily accessible to all Canadians. Lakes and waterways shape our nation literally and figuratively. For these and many other reasons, Canadians inherently recognize that purposely destroying a living lake with toxic waste just isn’t responsible.
Let us know what you think about this, too. Sign the Love My Lake Declaration now and tell us about your favourite water body and why it should never be deliberately polluted. We're also inviting 'lake-lovers' to put a face on their declaration by submitting a 'video signature'**.
What worries Nature Canada and others about the Schedule 2 loophole is that wasting natural water bodies seems to be turning into a normal part of business for mining companies. One of our key concerns with this loophole is that it overlooks the true ecological value and function of Canada’s water bodies. As a result, we're running the Stop Wasting Our Lakes campaign to engage Canadians on this issue and encourage government to close the “Schedule 2 loophole”. You should check it out, and consider tweeting about it or liking the campaign on Facebook.
The poll also suggested that Canadians expect more cooperation and innovation between industry and government to find better tailings disposal solutions. A full 67% of poll respondents said alternatives to lake disposal should be explored or developed in order for mining projects to proceed.
*Léger Marketing polled 1, 507 Canadians between April 2 and April 4.
**To send a video signature for the Love My Lake Declaration, please contact us first at admin (at) stopwastingourlakes.ca
and we'll help you from there!