The B.C. Securities Commission has cleared Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake of any wrongdoing around comments he made about a mine permit when he was environment minister.
The commission decision says Lake did not violate the Securities Act when he told a Daily News reporter at around 11 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2012, that the government would not be issuing an environmental assessment certificate for the Morrison Mine project near Terrace.
The company behind the mine, Pacific Brooker Minerals, had been notified more than two hours beforehand, but the company didn’t issue an announcement until that afternoon, when trading of its stock was closed.
NDP MLA Bruce Ralston filed a complaint with the commission 18 days later, pointing out shares could have been bought or sold between the time the minister spoke to The Daily News and the company’s announcement.
Commission enforcement division director T.R. Mitchell-Banks said in the written decision that trading on that date was reviewed and there was nothing deemed suspicious.
“We have found no violation of the Securities Act, RSBC 1996, c. 418 and, we will not be taking any further action,” he wrote.
Ralson said Wednesday that Lake would have been better to wait until trading closed before speaking to the mine decision.
“As a matter of prudence, to be cautious it would have waited until then,” he said.
“And this was a particularly sensitive file.”
Regardless of the circumstances, Ralson said he accepted the commission’s ruling.
Lake was surprised to hear the commission’s decision, since he wasn’t sent any notice about it.
“Obviously I’ve always felt I hadn’t done anything wrong. But it’s always nice to have that reinforced by the commission,” he said.
“That’s part of our job is to know what is to be held confidential and what you can talk about. We sign notes of confidentiality as cabinet ministers.”
Lake said he knew Pacific Booker was aware it had been turned down. But even as the commission was doing its investigation, he took steps to ensure a repeat didn’t occur.
“We went back and made sure there’s a proper protocol when something like this comes up,” he said.
Greg Leake, director of communications with the Environmental Assessment Office, said the protocol was just a rule that all announcements about certification decisions wait until 3 p.m.
“Then trading on the continent is ceased,” he said.
“It has the effect of ensuring while active trading is going on in North America, we’re not in the position to influence that without intent.”
The timeline rule also reminds staff why they have to wait on such announcements, he said.
The Morrison Mine project was rejected because of a distinctive type of sockeye salmon found in Babine Lake, which is about 35 kilometres from the copper/gold/molybdenum mine site.