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Neil Godbout: Questions for Canfor

While everyone’s arguing about whether the word “losers” should apply to repeat criminals committing minor offences like vandalism and mischief, who’s laughing all the way to the bank?
canfor

What was the worst thing the Citizen published online last week – was it what a city councillor said and then apologized for or was it Canfor announcing it made $1.5 billion last year?

Which of those things gets you more emotionally fired up? Which of those things affects your wallet more? While everyone’s arguing about whether the word “losers” should apply to repeat criminals committing minor offences like vandalism and mischief, who’s laughing all the way to the bank?

Still with “losers,” how well has that worked out in the past when the powers that be with good intentions decide certain peoples needed to be fixed against their will because it’s the moral thing to do? Does that question cut both ways, regardless of your views? If that question is unclear, remove the phrase “certain peoples” and insert “Indigenous Peoples,” or “anti-vaxxers” or any other often-criticized group.

Who worked hardest to make that $1.5 billion income possible – Canfor majority shareholder Jim Pattison, Canfor president and CEO Don Kayne or the hundreds of Canfor employees in Prince George? Pick one.

Did Pattison and Kayne work harder than the dozens of Prince George employees whose combined salaries are needed to equal their annual pay alone (not including their bonuses and shareholder income)?

Why do we call the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars Canfor has received over the years from the federal and provincial governments for mill upgrades “grants” but we call the far less money far more Canadians receive on an individual basis “handouts?”

Why are major investments that businesses make to enhance themselves called “capital projects” and are fully or partially exempt from taxation but homeowners call it “renovations” and don’t receive the same tax break?

Has Canfor been a net job creator in Prince George and area in the last 20 years or has it closed operations, laid off hundreds and used the savings to buy mills in the United States and Sweden?

Why does the provincial government, regardless of who’s in power, let Canfor dictate terms for forest tenure on Crown lands but doesn’t extend the same courtesy to B.C. First Nations on their traditional territories?

Thanks, Canfor, for donating $100,000 to the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation last year to help pay for a molecular diagnostic lab, but didn’t you get a tax break for that gift while everyone else is paying for the creation and continued operation of that lab through taxes?

Why do we call Russia’s super-rich “oligarchs” but call Canada’s super-rich citizens, like Pattison, “billionaires”? What’s the difference? Don’t Pattison and other super-rich Canadians own yachts and private planes and multiple luxury resort properties around the world just like the Russians do?

Does society fail when we don’t hold everyone accountable, including the “losers,” to the same rules and laws as everyone else or does it fail when a small group of super-rich and powerful people are allowed to continue to further enrich themselves at the expense of more and more people at the bottom?

If yes to both, pick the one that costs more.

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