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Posted: June 4, 2015

Loggers praised by MP in Parliament

More needed for the industry say upcoming election opposition

Kootenay- Columbia MP David Wilks Tuesday stood in Parliament to speak out on behalf of loggers.

Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks
Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks

“Mr. Speaker: In my riding of Kootenay-Columbia, from Nakusp to Elkford and all points in between, logging is a mainstay of the economy. The Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association (ILMA) is a coalition of 14 forest companies based in 13 communities in the southern interior of B.C. Most of these companies are small, and many are family owned. All are the cornerstones of their communities. Caring for the environment is front a centre,” Wilks said.

“All of their members meet or exceed existing forestry regulations. It’s not just part of gaining social licence; it’s the way they think business should be done. It’s important because they live in these communities.

“They are a primary source of employment in the communities they work in. Continued, sustained sources of timber are vital to this employment. They care about jobs and the economic boost they bring to these communities. They are committed to continuous improvement and are listening to the concerns and issues that are raised in their respective communities,” Wilks stated, adding, “I would like to congratulate the ILMA on 74 years of dedication to the Kootenay-Columbia region and timber harvesting a sustainable natural resource.”

Wilks later explained the reason why he spoke out in Parliament.

“According to negative nattering by some, the interior of B.C., Kootenay-Columbia in particular, there is not much good news on the environment,” he said Wilks. “Forest practices are unfairly decried and the loggers bear the brunt of the criticism, which is why I spoke up for them nationally last week.”

That is well and good, but Wilks’ Conservative government keeps failing the forest industry by continuing to support the exportation of raw logs, said Wayne Stetski, Kootenay-Columbia NDP Candidate for Member of Parliament.

NDP candidate Wayne Stetski
NDP candidate Wayne Stetski

“The responsibility to manage and regulate forestry on Crown land lies primarily with the provincial governments. Where the Federal Conservative government is failing us is by continuing to support the exporting of raw logs overseas. Those logs should be processed into dimensional lumber here in B.C., keeping the jobs in our communities. That is what MP David Wilks should be speaking on in Parliament to support our forestry workers in communities like Canal Flats,” Stetski said.

“On an international level, under the Harper Conservatives, it is embarrassing to be a Canadian who cares about the environment. Hundreds of our scientists fired and the rest muzzled. Canada ranked 58th worst out of 61 countries in the world for action on climate change. Protection removed from thousands of our lakes and streams. David Schindler, an internationally recognized scientist who is now one of us living in the Kootenays, describes what has been happening under the Harper Conservatives as the ‘dismantling of 50 years of environmental protection,’” Stetski said.

“If MP David Wilks cared about the values that we as his constituents strongly hold for the environment he would be speaking against his own government’s embarrassing record,” he concluded.

Green Party candidate Bill Green
Green Party candidate Bill Green

Green Party candidate Bill Green said he appreciates Wilks’ comments in the House of Commons “in support of the forest industry in this riding. It is indeed a very important industry to communities throughout the Kootenay-Columbia riding. The Green Party and I strongly support a sustainably managed forest industry as part of the ‘green economy’, which we are focused on supporting and building.”

However, the forest industry needs attention from government over platitudes, Green pointed out.

“Instead of supportive platitudes from MP Wilks and the Conservative government, we need concrete federal government action to support a sustainable forest industry. We need to restore the budget of the Canadian Forest Service; we need increased federal funding for research and innovation in forest products and sustainable forest management and for international marketing of our forest products. For example, more work is needed to innovate in the use of engineered timber products in the construction of large commercial buildings,” he said.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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