By Andrew MacLeod October 24, 2011 03:30 pm www.thetyee.ca
The British Columbia Liberal government spent $30 million to cover former mining minister of state Kevin Krueger’s backside, New Democratic Party energy and mines critic John Horgan charged today.
At issue was a settlement announced last week with Boss Power Corp. dating from a 2008 decision not to consider the company’s application to mine uranium near Kelowna.
Horgan referred to a 2010 court filing by the lawyers for Boss that said, “We understand that Minister Krueger told [inspector of mines Douglas] Sweeney that if a work permit were granted to Boss Power he would never survive the political fire storm rooted in the Okanagan.”
In the legislature, Horgan said, “Tell the public that you gave away 30 million bucks to protect the backside of the member from [Kamloops-South Thompson].”
Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman said the government decided in 2008 it was opposed to uranium mining and the compensation was appropriate. “When government made this decision, we actually knew that there could be a possible claim with regards to uranium.”
But Horgan later told reporters that much compensation was only necessary because the government broke the law. “By deliberately not abiding by the law, that allowed the judge in the first go round to look at punitive damages rather than just sunk costs,” he said.
Normally the government would only have to pay compensation for the company’s costs, but in this case admitted in court there’d been malfeasance on the decision, he said. “$30 million probably looked pretty good for a company that was really mining for compensation, not mining for uranium.”
NDP MLAs asked repeatedly in question period who had given the direction to not follow the law on the application. “It’s disappointing Mr. Coleman or the attorney general . . . didn’t have an answer,” said Horgan.
Horgan and NDP Leader Adrian Dix each said they are opposed to uranium mining, but that the government bungled the decision making the compensation more expensive than it needed to be.
Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.