Both parties have failed forest communities

Appurtenancy, under the NDP government in the 1990s, meant that wood for mills was tied to the local communities from which that wood was harvested.

This quickly disappeared under the timber tenure reform policies brought in by the B.C. Liberals under Gordon Campbell. His tenure reform "would entail a policy of individual transferrable quotas."

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It would also allow the tenure holders to close the community-adjacent mills and sell the raw logs to another mill or to ship raw logs out of the province or to sell their licenced tenure to a buyer who could legally do the same.

According to Michele Young's 2009 article on the evolution of forest policy, apurtenancy clauses in forest licences, tying timber harvesl to local processing, were removed in the early days of the current Liberal government.

That clause was put in place by the Social Credit government to induce capital investments in communities and to allow timberprocessing efficiencies to evolve. She also credited the only real resistance to the consolidation of timber cutting licences in the hands of the few came from First Nations.

In 2009, Steve Hunt, a senior steel worker union director, said "corporate control of public forests under he B.C. Liberal government is pitting communities against one another."

From Fort St. James comes this quote: "One of the biggest concerns of people in Fort St. James and other communities is the need to re-institute legislation requiring forestry companies to process the logs in the communities where they are harvested, i.e. the 'appurtenancy' clause."

In panning raw log exports in 2012, MLA Kevin Falcon stated: "If instead (of exporting raw logs), we exported processed products, we'd keep the jobs here where they are needed to boost our economy. Every job lost is money not being spent in B.C., therefore that money is not being returned to the economy in the form of taxes."

Prior to the 2017 election, NDP Leader John Horgan spoke about forestry issues in Kamloops. He noted that 30,000 jobs were lost in B.C.'s forest sector since 2001, the advent of the Campbell Liberal era. He noted that under the NDP government of the 1990s, mills were still tied to local communities under the social contract called appurtenancy. The Liberals stripped those rules in 2003, "allowing companies to build centralized super mills, get rid of local operations and have the ability to ship timber to mills of their choice."

Apparently he was aware of ramifications caused by revoking the rules of appurtenancy, but made no commitment to them being re-instated under a NDP administration.

One of those ramifications was especially noticeable in the NDP held Skeena area, where - over time - forestry companies had been able to close their mills while at the same time they exclusively logged their tenured areas and shipped the raw logs overseas.

Aside from the usual partisan snipping made by the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Liberals, both sides mouthing platitudes in pursuit of a soundbite or a published photo-op, the only noteworthy result reported was John Rustad's statement that "laid-off forestry workers are not a political issue." I take it that he doesn't have to work for a living.

We are sorely in need of a government that is committed to the citizens and their communities instead of remaining toadies to the multinationals that own our forests. They could start by re-instating the appurtenancy clauses in forest licences.

There is a Supreme Court of Canada ruling which held that the province has sovereign power under jurisdictions granted within the Constitution, which means that the province can enact legislation to prevent that from occurring.

The provincial government shouldn't worry about a NAFTA challenge under the investor state provisions clause, because any financial penalties would become the responsibility of the federal government - as they unilaterally surrendered our provincial sovereignty in order to obtain a "free trade" treaty.

-- Abe Bourdon lives in Clinton

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