Liberals’ action on softwood lumber not very united

The Liberals recent action on the softwood file is somewhat like closing the barn door after the horses have left

Editor, The Times:

Christy Clark’s recent editorial “Taking a stand: United action on BC softwood lumber” (April 13 issue) rings hollow in many aspects.

The Liberals recent action on the softwood file is somewhat like closing the barn door after the horses have left. The last Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) came into effect in 2006 and expired in 2013. The Liberals have done very little in the last four years to improve B.C.’s position from the future challenges that were sure to come from the US Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports.

Clark maintains that her government is taking a stand to ensure united action with B.C. communities in the dispute with the U.S. but in fact since the Liberals were elected they have turned control of the B.C. forest industry over to corporate interests and have sought little or no input from small town B.C.

Now she says we’re taking a stand to ensure united action – hardly.

There are many within the industry who said Stephen Harper and David Emerson sold us out in the last SLA and were more interested in representing the interests of big industry rather than the interests of community-based manufacturers.

Christy Clark has now appointed David Emerson as special envoy on the softwood file. This is like the fox looking after the chicken house. Emerson, ex-CEO of Canfor, was a Liberal MP one day and the next a Conservative Trade Minister.

The 2006 SLA discouraged value-added output from local mills and encouraged further shipments of raw logs, which are exempt. Since Clark was re-elected in 2013 almost 26 million cubic metres of raw logs were shipped from the province, with a combined sales value of more than $3.02 billion. Is that what Christy considers continued diversification of markets and wood products?

Is it any wonder that Clark and the Liberal party don’t want to upset the apple cart with big business. Since 2005 the five major B.C. forest companies that reaped the most benefit from the 2006 SLA have donated $3.25 million to the BC Liberal party. He who pays the piper calls the tunes.

Clark maintains that we are resilient and if we stand together we will win. But she seems to forget that it was her government that caved to the U.S. softwood lumber lobby several years ago when they eliminated the cornerstone of B.C. forest policy that companies gained access to publicly owned forestlands only if they committed to manufacture that wood in the local area. The elimination of appurtenancy clauses has cost BC over 30,000 jobs and the closure of over 100 mills since.

Christy Clark is trying to convince us she has the best interest of B.C. communities at heart. The Liberal track record shows quite the opposite.

Garry Worth

Retired forestry worker

Kamloops, B.C.

 

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