This last week, my email inbox has been fuller than at almost any other time since I was elected in 2005. The issue on people’s minds is the government’s plan for the privatization of our public lands. The government intends to convert replaceable forest licences into tree farm licences (TFL), which will effectively grant private corporations long-term, exclusive rights to publicly-owned timber.
As the Opposition Critic for Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, people are including me in their communications with the Minister of Forests, telling him that they strongly oppose this move. And the government cannot provide a shred of evidence that any public good will come from the change.
The Minister of Forests likes to say that there is proof of benefit, and he likes to say that he is acting on the recommendation of the Timber Supply Committee. But both of these statements are categorically untrue.
A Freedom of Information request for any ministry documents that state any public benefits from this TFL rollover scheme turned up nothing — the ministry doesn’t have a single piece of paper that states there is any public good.
And as the Deputy Chair of the Timber Supply Committee, I know exactly what the committee recommended. And our recommendations in no way align with what this government is proposing.
Over the last week, I have received more than 1,200 emails from British Columbians saying no to TFL rollovers. And the emails keep coming in.
But I’m not just hearing from British Columbians. I’m hearing from people from all over the world. And that is where the larger issue comes in.
The path the B.C. government is taking us down could shake the confidence of global markets that forest products from British Columbia are coming from forests that are managed to a proper environmental standard. And many markets are not interested in buying from a jurisdiction that cannot prove that it is managing its forests sustainably.
There is still time to let the government know your position on this important issue. Send an email to Forest.Tenures@gov.bc.ca, FLNR.firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Make sure your voice is heard.
Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-866-870-4188, or visit www.NormMacdonald.ca.