“Go back to the capital and stay there”: the mining industry’s resistance to regulatory reform in British Columbia 1972-2005




Addie, Sean C.

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The Barrett (1972-1975) and Harcourt-Clark (1991-2001) New Democratic Party (NDP) governments attempted to redefine their relationship with the mining industry by changing the regulatory structures that governed mining in British Columbia. In both cases the mining industry publicly resisted these attempts, and was successful in having the reforms dismantled by subsequent free-enterprise oriented governments. These instances of conflict were centred on a foundational debate over government’s role in, and/or duty to, the mining industry. Intense industry-led resistance occurred when the traditional industry-government compact, which required government to serve as a promoter of the industry, and a liquidator of Crown owned mineral resources, was perceived to have been violated. The Barrett government more stringently asserted its ownership of public mineral resources through the enactment of a mineral royalty, and by assuming greater regulatory authority over mining operations. These actions instigated a substantial public relations campaign against the Barrett government over taxation laws. The Harcourt-Clark government pursued the development of strategic land-use plans and rejected the historic consensus that mining was innately the highest and best use of the land. This led to substantial anti-government rhetoric and an industry withdrawal from all public engagement and land-use planning processes. In both cases the mining industry was able to revive the traditional relationship when free-enterprise oriented governments replaced the NDP administrations.



NDP, New Democratic Party, Social Credit Party, Socred, MABC, Mining Association of British Columbia, BCYCM, British COlumbia and Yukon Chamber of Mines, AMEBC, LUP, Land use planning, land-use planning, windy craggy, Commision on Resources and Environment, LRMP, land and resource management Plan, strathcona park, MRA, Mineral Royalties Act, Bill 31, Mining, minerals, war in the woods, British Columbia, leo nimsick, dave barrett, tom waterland