MLAs from the provincial NDP were in town Friday talking to forestry companies and employees to test their forestry platform for next spring’s election.
“What Adrian’s asked us to do is to go into forestry communities, test the ideas that we have, make sure that we have detail around them to make sure we can be effective immediately given the opportunity,” forestry critic and Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald said of provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix.
Macdonald said they were focusing on three main issues: raw log exports, job protection and forest health.
“I think that most British Columbians would agree the level of raw log exports is a massive failure of the government,” Macdonald said. “We’re up to 5.5 million cubic metres of wood that’s exported in its raw form. I think most British Columbians would agree we could do better than simply knock down a tree and put it on a barge.”
Macdonald said the NDP would not stop the export of raw log exports, but instead limit it so the province could “get the most out of the resource as possible.”
He said in the 11 years of Liberal rule more than 5,700 natural resources and manufacturing jobs have been lost in the region. He attributed part of this loss to the removal of the Jobs Protection Commissioner and the lack of legislative framework to protect jobs.
Macdonald said the NDP would bring in framework to keep up employment and protect jobs. He said this would also stop mills from shutting down.
“It doesn’t mean you can save every mill, it doesn’t mean that you would necessarily do that, but what we have now is an ad hoc system where certain communities have resources and government participation in trying to save particular jobs and other communities are simply left,” he said.
Macdonald was also upset with the health of B.C.’s forests.
“The B.C. Liberals have failed massively in forest health,” he said. “There was a time when the government had the obligation to replant if it was an area that made sense to replant. In 2001 the B.C. Liberals removed the provincial obligation to replant.
“The B.C. Liberals removed the obligation and the cut the replanting budget by 90 per cent … we could have as much as two million hectares of public crown land that should be replanted by the provincial government that remains not satisfactory restocked, which is a technical term that means it should be replanted and it’s not.”
Macdonald said he was not satisfied with the work the BC Liberals are doing.
“We know that this is our most valuable asset. We know that the responsible thing for a government to do is look after that asset and we know that the BC Liberals have done an exceedingly poor job at that,” he said. “It’s forest health our most valuable resource; they’ve failed to look after it and it’s a comprehensive failure.”