Timber supply report a further condemnation of Liberal forest policy
VICTORIA – A report released by the bi-partisan Special Committee on Timber Supply on Wednesday is a condemnation of the failed Liberal forest policy that has contributed to massive job loss and closed mills in B.C., say the New Democrats.
“British Columbia's forests represent a trillion-dollar asset that the B.C. Liberals have been badly mismanaging for over a decade,” said New Democrat forest critic Norm Macdonald. “Under the Liberal government’s watch, more than 35,000 jobs in the forest sector have been lost and dozens of mills have closed forever.
“Many of the recommendations in the committee’s report could help reverse some of the damage caused by the failed Liberal forest policy. They reflect many of the changes Adrian Dix and the New Democrats have been advocating for years, and would help address forest health, protect jobs and create better value out of our forest industry."
Macdonald is the deputy chair of the bi-partisan committee and is joined by fellow New Democrat MLAs Harry Bains and Bill Routley. Liberal MLAs John Rustad (chair), Donna Barnett, Erik Foster and Ben Stewart also sit on the committee. The committee was set up in the months following the Burns Lake Mill crisis, and was tasked with making “recommendations with respect to mid-term timber supply for British Columbia resulting from the pine beetle epidemic-related loss of timber supply in the central interior.”
“The people of Burns Lake should not have been forced to wait seven months for recommendations,” said Macdonald. “The crisis in Burns Lake brought into focus two clear failings. First, the B.C. Liberals have no mechanism to assist and support communities in transition due to a crisis within the industry.
“Second, the lack of inventory knowledge, proper care of the land and restocking of trees under the Liberals’ watch means we have neither the information nor capacity to make the best decisions.”
British Columbians understand the true value of our forests, not just for timber, but for all values. New Democrats agree with British Columbians who insist that our forests be managed sustainably.
Macdonald said the recommendations must be accepted by government and their implementation must begin immediately.
“There is a real concern that the Liberals cannot be trusted to implement the changes recommended in this report,” said Macdonald. “It was their mismanagement that got us here in the first place, and a look at the budget projections for next year show the Liberals are still headed in the wrong direction with a planned cut of $40 million for forest health.
Macdonald said the forest industry cannot afford more failed Liberal forest policies.