Updated: Privacy commish to investigate BC Government

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Updated: Privacy commish to investigate BC Government

BC’s Privacy and Information Commissioner will investigate the BC Government over whether or not the public should have been given advance warnings of the risks of the Mount Polley tailings pond before it breached.

Elizabeth Denham says she will look into what the government knew about the Imperial Metals tailings pond and if it breached its legal obligation to inform people in the area of any potential dangers.

She says section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act requires public bodies to to tell people if there is an imminent risk to the public or environment.

The investigation comes as a result of a BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association complaint.

Executive Director Vincent Gogolek says the question is what did the province know before the dam breached.

“There were various reports that came out right after the breach saying we told the company. We told the government. We told the company and the government. We thought there was certainly enough information toi found a complaint and the commissioner apparently agrees. Now it is up to the commissioner to find out what really went on. What did the government know.”

Gogolek says the commissioner has the power to force the province to cough up any and all documents.

“That is really what we need. We need an independent third party like the commissioner to go in and find out what happened. What did the government know? When did they know it? And why didn’t they release it to the public? Maybe there is a good explanation for this. We’ll find out.”

Gogolek says just a few months ago the commissioner had already slapped the government’s wrists for not abiding by the section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

He says if Elizabeth Denham finds the province in violation of the act then he hopes she comes down hard on them.



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  1. Good grief. If government had to report all ‘risks’, we would need a whole new Ministry of Risk Assessment, just to determine if there is a risk. Oh yes, this Ministry would require a ‘crystal Ball’ and a staff of paranormal folks to attempt to identify unknown risks! This is nothing more than a ‘make work’ project.

    • Jeez Stephen you need to keep up with the news.
      The mine and government were warned by many engineers and employees that this tailing pond was over loaded and stressed.
      No crystal ball required.

    • This has nothing to do with “all risks”. The law clearly states that disclosure must be made when there is “a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public”.

      The government’s primary duty is public safety – not protecting corporations from potential embarrassment.

  2. Is this Bennett’s promised independent third-party investigation under way? I doubt whether a single bureaucrat will admit that he was aware that the tailings pond dam was about to fail.

    Accordingly, the results are predictable. Mr. Bennett’s ministry knew nothing -which may well be the crux of the whole problem.

  3. Well said Dangler , As a Superintendent , one must deal with things first hand , and not wate for the thing to fail , or your not doing your job . I’ve allways wondered why we need so meny pencle pushers in government , When every thing takes for ever to get done , And you get charged , for the services , that your tax should cover , it’s like paying twice .