Cullen slams $30M federal subsidy to mothballed Eurocan

OTTAWA Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen demanded an explanation in Parliament today for why West Fraser Timber is still eligible to receive a $30 million federal subsidy for its Eurocan mill that will be mothballed in January.

“Can the Minister explain why West Fraser is getting a subsidy at the same time it is dealing a crippling blow to the workers and their families who put their blood, sweat and tears into this operation for more than 40 years?” Cullen asked Natural Resources Parliamentary Secretary David Anderson.

On Wednesday, West Fraser announced the upcoming closure of Kitimat’s Eurocan mill, which will throw over 500 people out of work and affect as many as 3,000 other jobs in related industries in the region.

“Despite the closure, West Fraser will still receive a $30 million subsidy from the government for the very same mill that it is mothballing,” Cullen charged angrily.

Anderson defended the subsidy, saying West Fraser qualifies for more than $88 million in federal credits to be used at any mill in Canada.  The money flows through a $1 billion pulp and paper green strategy for the forestry industry.

“In this unprecedented crisis in the forestry industry, we were told this very program and subsidy would keep our mills open and our forestry towns alive, but the program is deeply flawed,” Cullen said in the House of Commons this morning.

“Could the Minister explain why a program that was supposed to protect our mills is instead helping to shut them down?”

Cullen is working with community leaders to organize an emergency strategic planning session in Kitimat the November 7 weekend.  Cullen, an economic and community development consultant before becoming Member of Parliament, will also facilitate the session.

Eurocan has operated in Kitimat for 40 years and was purchased by West Fraser in 1981.

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Media calls: Shelley Browne (250) 877-4142; nathan.cullen.c1@parl.gc.ca