Column: Last minute thoughts about the forest industry before the election

Is there “a mood shift underway among voters?” Jim Stirling poses this question and a number of observations.

Is there “a mood shift underway among voters?”

Jim Stirling, a contributing editor for the Logging and Sawmilling Journal, poses this question and a number of observations.

He feels the forest industry is seen as a sunset industry by the federal government in Ottawa as demonstrated by the lack of interest shown during the election.

Hydrocarbons are the new timber baron.

Stirling thinks there may be a shift in the thinking of voters about the headlong rush by both levels of governments to focus on the export of oil and gas in various forms to offshore markets.

He points out we would be wise to recall the senior governments rush to export coal to Asia in the 1980s,  i.e. the promises never kept and the bills for infrastructure dumped on the public.

What about the other side of the development equation?

What happens when there is an oil spill and who will sustain the longterm consequences?

He also feels more people are feeling uneasy about our consumption and cavalier attitude toward our natural resources such as water, for example.

All of a sudden that ubiquitous stuff that comes out of the tap isn’t so ubiquitous anymore and we should be concerned about the implications of fracking in the oilfields.

Stirling concludes that all of this stuff is contributing to an uneasiness about where we are going as a society and the motives of those who wish to lead us.

More people are beginning to question whether a robust export dominated national economy is compatible today with adequate environmental protection and preservation.

Some recent events would indicate we are still taking environmental shortcuts with the announcement about Montreal proposing to dump eight billion litres of raw sewage into the Saint Lawrence River so they can do some repairs to their sewage system.

It will be interesting to see what impact the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal will have on the soon-to-expire softwood lumber agreement with the U.S.

David Lindsay, CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada, is pleased with the deal and mentions a number of countries that will probably eliminate or reduce their tariffs.

Unfortunately, the U.S. was not included in the list.

There was not much on the forest industry at our recent all candidates forum, certainly not from the Conservatives who did not have a representative at the public meeting and who apparently didn’t attend other public events.

Most at the meeting agreed we need a different format for voting.

I for one was impressed by the knowledge and ideas of all the candidates that were present and I would like to see a governing body that had input from all elected representatives and not dominated by one party, which can’t be bothered to show up at a candidates forum.

It’s time to have a new system which allows more independent thinking and input and get away from the party politics.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

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