This has been a spring full of serious and important issues that have caused British Columbians to speak out very loudly against the actions of the B.C. Liberal government. One of the issues that caused the greatest number of emails to my office this spring is the government’s plan to further privatize our public lands through Tree Farm Licence (TFL) rollovers.
When the BC Liberals first proposed the TFL rollover legislation prior to the 2013 election, they were forced to back down because of overwhelmingly negative public reaction. But they were determined to press ahead. After the election, they promised that, ahead of re-tabling TFL rollover legislation, they would conduct a province-wide, authentic consultation.
Instead of the wide-ranging consultative process that was promised, the government simply offered an opportunity for British Columbians to submit their thoughts online. Those of us who want to keep our lands in public hands took the opportunity to send another strong message to government.
At the close of the consultation period, approximately 4,225 submissions were recorded. Of them, 4,185 reject the government’s plan for privatization, approximately 25 are neutral, and only 15 clearly support the government’s agenda.
As the Critic for Forests, I also received most of these submissions and many hundreds of these emails came from Kootenay residents. But there was also a very large contingent of these emails that came from people in other parts of the world.
Because B.C. relies on international markets for its wood products and these markets value wood products that are harvested sustainably, any changes here that shake the confidence of the international market in our environmental standards puts our industry at risk.
The CEO of Canfor, a corporation that employs so many in our area, has come out strongly against the proposal for just this reason stating that”‘the risk of aligning the public against B.C.’s largest forest companies” is just too high.
We cannot lose public control of our lands, of our forests. TFL rollover legislation threatens our ability to sell our products, it gives away our public lands through back-room deals, and it is environmentally irresponsible.
Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke. He can be reached by phone at 1-866-870-4188 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.