Conservative forestry plan fails communities

SMITHERSYesterday, Conservative MPs fanned out across the country to trumpet federal investments in several mills, even as the government continues to ignore the ongoing crisis in the forest industry.

“A few political handouts to individual mills totally miss the seriousness and depth of the forestry crisis,” said New Democrat Natural Resources Critic Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley).  “Forestry communities are still reeling from job losses and closures.  It is well past time this government responds with serious action.”

“Mr. Harper has ignored repeated calls for a real strategy to address the forestry sector.  The Conservatives have even refused to tackle very real and simple problems such as unfair railway rates that are crippling the industry.”

Since the Conservatives took power in 2006, the Canadian forest industry has been haemorrhaging, losing over 85,000 jobs in less than five years.  British Columbia is one of the hardest hit regions, with 20,000 forestry workers thrown out of jobs.

“If this government were serious about the forestry sector, they would support communities like Kitimat that have worked hard to find solutions in the wake of the Eurocan closure,” Cullen said.  “Instead, the Conservatives let West Fraser take more than $30 million in federal subsidies slated for Eurocan off to Alberta.”

Cullen has written to the Minister of Natural Resources to request the government recoup the funds earmarked for Eurocan or make an equivalent investment to rejuvenate forestry in Kitimat.  Cullen will also this month request the Finance Minister include a $30 million payout to Kitimat in the upcoming federal budget.

“Sustainability – both for our environment and our economy – comes from using our resources wisely,” said Cullen.   “And that means adding value to each tree and every mineral harvested. 

“Canadians need a government that is committed to real solutions to revitalizing the forest industry, not a bunch of politicians flying around on the public dime on thinly disguised public relations tours.”