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“This is not a declining industry,”: BC Liberal leader blasts NDP’s approach to struggling forestry sector

BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon ripped Premier David Eby’s announcement to provide 90 million dollars over three years to support new industrial and manufacturing projects in the province.

The latest blow to the forestry sector in the north was Canfor eliminating 300 jobs in its pulp line at the Pulp and Paper Mill in Prince George.

Permanent curtailments and closures have also been felt in smaller communities like Mackenzie, Fort Saint James, Williams Lake, Fraser Lake, and Quesnel.

During a media session in Prince George today (Wednesday), Falcon said the NDP’s philosophy on the forestry sector is completely off-kilter.

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“The NDP’s approach to this forest industry is to manage the decline of this industry. This is not a declining industry – it’s a renewable resource that if properly looked after with the proper leadership from a government can be an industry that our grandchildren can be part of.”

Simply put, Falcon is of the opinion the government’s recent funding announcement would have been better spent elsewhere.

“Why can’t they practically deal with the big slash piles that are being burned that could actually be with the proper dollars and incentives delivered to the pulp lines so that the actual pulp mills actually have some fiber? There are potentially 1.2 million cubic meters of fibre out there that is currently being burned that could keep that mill operating.”

“While we were in government, we were not perfect in terms of how we handled the forest industry either but there has to be a change coming to the forestry sector, everyone knows that. That I would argue would include more local control because I think that would be a really positive thing. Local communities, first nations, and industry working together in a different kind of forestry sector.”

In terms of building back better, Falcon says many smaller operations are working with First Nations doing selective cuts, a new approach that’s working.

“For a lot of the bigger companies, maybe that’s not a place they think they can get to and have the scale to be able to do. But, there are a lot of companies, especially smaller and mid-sized ones that are quite willing to operate in that environment.”

Falcon was adamant the forestry sector needs a clear vision as to what the rules of the game are without having to see the goalposts constantly move every time the industry seems to be in flux.

“The forest industry is voting with its wallet,” added Falcon.

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“There are spending all of their capital investment outside of British Columbia, they are doing it out of the East Coast, south of the border, sometimes in the Scandanavian countries but they are not making investments in British Columbia. That should be a flashing red warning light for the workers and the communities here in British Columbia that there is no trust in this NDP government to provide the stability that is needed for the industry to make big investments.”

“It’s frustrating because what this industry needs is certainty. They need a government that is going to make it clear what the rules of the game are so that they can make investments confidently and that they know the goalposts aren’t going to keep shifting.”

Falcon also stated that Premier Eby made no mention of the LNG project while speaking at the BC Natural Resources Forum.

A project that has a price tag of just north of 40 billion dollars.

“And that I find remarkable and quite shocking. That’s a lot of the feedback that I have been hearing from a lot of the folks attending this event. He just doesn’t get this sector, he doesn’t get how important the natural resource sector is to the province of British Columbia.”

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