Taseko Mines Ltd. is seeking to prevent a federal panel reviewing its proposal for a gold and copper mine in northern British Columbia from showing a public hearing a documentary it says is biased in favour of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation, who are opposed to the project.
The Tsilhqot'in National Government had requested the film, Blue Gold: The Tsilhqot'in Fight for Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), be shown during a public hearing on Taseko's proposal, according to a message sent today to review panel participants by the panel's chair Robert Connelly.
A lawyer acting for Taseko, Keith Clark with the Vancouver firm Lang Michener, outlined the company's concerns in an e-mail to the review panel yesterday. “It is not evidence,” he wrote. “It is a propaganda film, produced to influence the opinions or behaviour of people, by providing deliberately biased content in an emotional context. By its nature, there is no opportunity for Taseko or anyone else to challenge it. When it is finished it is done. There is no one to answer questions or clarify any of the assertions.”
An e-mail distributed through the Friends of the Nemaiah Valley, one of the groups that funded the documentary directed by Susan Smitten, says Blue Gold is an important film. “It documents the voices of the Tsilhqot'in people themselves,” it said. “These voices are not filtered . . . They are the honest and deeply sincere voices of people who are defending their traditional territory.
“Taseko continues to trivialize these voices by labeling the film 'propaganda.'”
The panel intends to consider Taseko's objection during its first day of hearings in Williams Lake on March 22, Connelly wrote.
You can watch Blue Gold here:
Update: On March 18 the documentary was relabeled as "private" on Vimeo, the site where it is hosted. The issue was technical, we're told, and it was again available by mid-afternoon.
Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.