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New Democrat Forestry Committee Wraps Successful First Leg of Province-Wide Tour

VICTORIA –Island and coastal business owners, workers and other stakeholders agree that the dramatic increase in raw log exports is resulting in a loss of business and fewer jobs, say the New Democrats.

Members of the New Democrat caucus’ forestry committee met with more than a dozen stakeholders on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast at the end of last week on the first leg of their province-wide tour. The tour begins in the wake of last week's Auditor General report condemning the Liberals for failing to address the growing crisis in forest health.

“There was consensus across the board that B.C. logs should be used to create jobs in B.C.,” said New Democrat forests critic Norm Macdonald. “To do otherwise is a failure by the Liberals to get full value from this resource.

“In 2011 alone, we exported 5.5 million cubic metres of raw logs. That’s enough timber to fill logging trucks which, lined end-to-end, would stretch from the coast to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Adrian Dix and the New Democrats have said quite clearly that we need a strategy to reduce the amount of raw logs being exported and ensure more are processed in B.C.”

Since 2001, more than 70 mills have closed and the forest industry has shed more than 35,000 full-time, family-supporting jobs.

The four-member committee – including Macdonald, deputy critic Bill Routley, North Island MLA Claire Trevena and Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali – was joined by local MLAs Doug Routley, Leonard Krog, Scott Fraser and Nicholas Simons. From Thursday through Sunday, they visited mills and woodlots and met with labour, business and other stakeholders in Chemainus, Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Comox, Campbell River, Sechelt, Gibsons and Powell River.

“It’s clear that people who understand the forest industry know that we need a new strategy for forestry,” said Macdonald. “They don’t accept the Liberal argument that exporting raw logs and continually shedding jobs is the best we can do. That’s why we launched this tour, to talk with people who know the industry about ways to improve forestry and forest management.”

The forestry tour continues this week with stops in the southern Interior and will continue throughout the spring.

Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe that B.C. logs should support B.C. jobs as part of a forest strategy that respects First Nations, environmental and local needs.