We need to take back control of our forests. We need value-added forestry production. We need market diversification for our manufactured products. Right now the short term thinking in the forest industry is selling our future to foreign interests. We need the Canadian Government to step up and stem the Canadian log drain.
Canada has won countless tribunal decisions against American softwood lumber tariffs, yet, for years, the US refuses to follow the tribunal rulings. Our current strategy isn’t working. Meanwhile, our logs run tariff-free across the border to US mills and manufacturers. The incentive is to export raw logs. But these logs are the feedstock to our sawmills. Our best logs are being channelled as exports to other countries, while our sawmills close because Canadian manufacturers are left with the second rate (or less) timber, and it’s harder for the Canadian manufacturing sector to be profitable.
The softwood lumber manufacturing industry in Canada is mostly foreign owned. They own the Timber Forest Licenses (TFL) on our Crown Land. Many TFL logs are harvested and sent to lots where they are sorted and sold. The highest bidders get the logs they want. Unfortunately, the highest bidders are often not Canadian. The TFL owners (the manufacturers in Canada) then lay off people, shut down shifts, shut down mills, and blame the government saying they need more fibre. Many of the TFL quotas have been overcut and sold to foreign manufacturing, leaving Canadian workers holding the bag.
We need to take back control of our forests. TFL allocation must be reconsidered. Logs cut in a TFL should be processed in that TFL. I will work toward a Royal Commission on the restructuring of our Crown Forest Timber Forest Licenses. We need Canadians to benefit, not foreign owned companies with little concern for the future of Canadians and our Canadian environment. We need to put secondary manufacture back into Canadian hands.
I owned a value-added forestry business. I understand the complexities and difficulties involved are massive… but not insurmountable. You can be assured I will be fighting for our workers, our environment, our Kootenay-Columbia.