Government lawyer downplays minister's statement questioning mining permits

Associated Press

VANCOUVER - A government lawyer is trying to downplay comments by a federal cabinet minister who publicly raised concerns about permits for 200 temporary Chinese miners in B.C.

Two unions have asked the Federal Court to revoke permits for HD Mining's plan to use the temporary workers to construct and operate a mine in northern B.C.

The unions have repeatedly pointed to comments from Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, who issued a written statement last November that said her ministry was "not satisfied" with what it had learned about the process.

In particular, she said she wasn't satisfied HD Mining had made sufficient efforts to recruit or hire Canadians for its proposed Murray River underground coal mine.

Federal government lawyer Lorne Lachance says no matter what Finley may have said, the ministry does not believe there were problems with the applications that warrant overturning them.

A union lawyer notes at least two judges involved in the case have referenced Finely's statements and she has made no attempt to change or correct them.

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