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Opposition MLA's have themselves to blame for forest policies crippling the industry

Corporate giveaways have been disastrous for B.C. forests and local workers
This photo of a spruce beetle forest near McEwan Lake about an hour north of Prince George shows juvenile conifers, many of which are wasted in clearcut beetle salvage operations.

The lack of fibre for the forest industry is the direct product of more than 25 years of government policy. 

Yes, everyone blames the pine beetle, but a large portion of the pine beetle devastated timber stands that have been harvested since the late 1990s weren’t 100 per cent pine. Mature spruce and fir were taken along with the dead pine.  As well, juvenile spruce and fir ended up burnt in the mountains of slash piles.

There will be strong denials, but the resulting horizon-to-horizon clearcuts, with most of it given away at a mere 25 cents per cubic metre, wiped out the mid-term timber supply.  Governments of the day didn’t even have the foresight to demand selective logging at the giveaway prices to protect the 10- to 40-year-old spruce and fir within those stands.

The reality, contrary to what Shirley Bond and John Rustad stated in Ted Clarke’s article earlier this week, is that the NDP has done little to increase the burden of red tape on local Canfor operations. 

Contrary to what you may have heard, there have been no old-growth deferrals in the Prince George region.  There are no new parks of any significance.  The caribou moratoriums are mostly outside of our timber supply area. We still don’t have appurtenancy. Other than some new requirements for long-term landscape planning and some new provisions for tenure claw-backs, every regulatory framework of any substance is more or less the same now as it was under the BC Liberals and John Rustad when he was Minister of Forests.

The NDP is even subsidizing industry either directly or through corporate fronts like the Forest Enhancement Society of BC and the Forest Investment Program.

The big corporations logged and consolidated themselves into their own corner, created centralized supermills that now require ridiculous distances of log hauling to sustain, that process insane amounts of wood with minimal jobs in return, and they’ve only got themselves to blame. 

We are learning quite a bit about who our politicians and media are working for when they point fingers at non-existent policy changes to justify the parasitic politics of the world’s largest forestry empires.

The answer is, it isn’t us.

Canfor, it should be pointed out, makes decisions at a global level.  They have twice as many sawmills operating in the United States and Sweden as they do here in Canada. They are in such a powerful position of market influence that closing down production in Canada will likely have an impact on North American lumber prices. 

If they have more profitable operations in the American South, and they keep running those while reducing the Canadian lumber supply to drive up prices, well why wouldn’t they do that?  This may be anti-competitive, anti-free market, rent-seeking behaviour, but our antitrust enforcement in this country is a joke. And nobody wants to criticize our favourite billionaire, Jimmy Pattison, who owns the majority stake in Canfor. Canfor is just fulfilling its fiduciary duty to its shareholders. That’s their priority.  Not us.  

And yet John Rustad and Shirley Bond are stumbling over themselves to take Canfor for their worthless word, while blaming the NDP for the legacy of the policies they themselves and the BC Liberals created!

We aren’t suckers, and we deserve better than that. If we want a path forward, we need to acknowledge the fact corporate giveaways have been an unmitigated disaster for our forests and for our workers.  

More of the same won’t fix it.