I am not normally a big fan of judicial inquiries.
They often tend to do little more than provide soapboxes for opposing political factions; are exploited by community groups and activists more interested in advancing their own agendas than getting to any truth; and, take so long to carry out that, by the time any recommendations are published, most of the public rarely remember or care anymore what it was really all about, so governments and agencies feel little real pressure to pay attention to any costly recommendations.
Too many judicial enquiries do is ENRICH the dozens of lawyers who work on them, provide many man-years (or women-years) of work for legal staffs, bureaucrats, court staff, community activists … and generous payouts for expenses (including hotels, meals, travel) … often for their supporters and relations … all of it at public expense, of course.
And they give the media exactly what too many of them want these days … hours of easy stories and Canadian content filler delivered up on a platter, for not just days or weeks, but for months …even years. Easy clips from people going in, coming out and lots of quotes …. again dished out by lawyers, politicians and advocacy groups … all pushing their particular positions. Sure easier than doing any REAL investigative research or stories.
Meanwhile, the victims and the real issues get lost in the shuffle.
It all costs MILLIONS … again paid for by YOU … but often yielding nothing but MOUNTAINS of paper … most of which will just gather dust.
Who needs it!
Well, in the case of Mount Polley … I hate to admit it …but I believe WE do.
Whenever such a HUGE environmental breach takes place (and don’t let the corporate and government spin doctors minimize it) I believe the primary objective of most of those responsible is NOT to find out what happened, but to cover ass!
Cover the ass of the company; cover the asses of engineers and designers who screwed up; cover the asses of the executives who may have ignored warnings or failed to implement recommendations; cover the asses of provincial bureaucrats who slipped up; and cover the asses of politicians who may have failed in their responsibilities to adequately enforce rules, failed to adequately fund inspection operations; or, failed to adequately pursue actions against any company involved, because of party donations.
We just don’t know what REALLY happened that led at the Mount Polley mine/tailing spill … and ONLY a Judicial Inquiry ..where people are FORCED TO TESTIFY UNDER OATH on penalty of possible imprisonment for COVER-UPS and PERJURY will get to the truth.
Any other kind of investigation, internal inquiry, questioning … especially behind closed doors, but even in the open …will see nothing more, I believe, than a whole lot of cover-our-asses interpretations, explanations and rationalizations.
Let’s keep it real: put yourself in the position of any mine official or government bureaucrat, with a well-paying job, a sizeable home mortgage, kids to raise etc. etc. Would YOU really stick your neck out in any kind of informal questioning or investigation and POINT THE FINGER at YOUR boss and say “He (or She) did it!”
But on the stand, in a judicial inquiry, under penalty of heavy fines, imprisonment or even loss of licences … you would NO DOUBT be much more inclined to tell the truth …the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!
It’s the ONLY way to go … if the WHOLE RUTH about what caused the disaster at Mount Polley and what the REAL IMPACT will be on the environment is to ever come out.