MLA John Rustad meets with Minister of Forests

Says questions about old growth logging deferrals were ‘stonewalled’

Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Honourable Katrine Conroy was reportedly dismissive of questions posed by MLA John Rustad. (File photo/Lakes District News)

Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Honourable Katrine Conroy was reportedly dismissive of questions posed by MLA John Rustad. (File photo/Lakes District News)

Nechako Lakes Member of Legislative Assembly John Rustad had an opportunity to meet with Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Honourable Katrine Conroy, to discuss the recent policy change deferring old growth logging.

“I asked the minister if there any been any social economic analysis on the announcement of deferrals, what communities and companies would be affected, where the job losses will happen, and why is this decision a political decision when it should be based on science?” Rustad told Lakes District News.

Rustad has been publicly fighting the policy change since the announcement by the government in early November. The main reasoning is due to the potential for job loss that could subsequently be created in communities that are dependent on the forestry industry.

“By asking these questions, I was hoping the government would be able to settle down the significant disruption that is occurring. In many areas of the province, layoff notices have already started. For example, in the Northwest, some operators are telling me that 50 per cent of all of the harvesting planned for the next five years is no longer available,” said Rustad.

“In the Southeast corner of the province, one company is telling me that 85 per cent of their harvesting plans are impacted. In the Okanagan, another company is telling me 60 per cent of their plans are impacted. On Vancouver Island, I have heard from a number of companies that have had to shut down operations and layoff their employees.”

Rustad went on to say that he strongly believes the minister needs to accept responsibility for this chaos in the forest sector and back down on the old growth deferrals.

In terms of a response to his comments and questions, according to Rustad, he was met with resistance from the minister.

“The minister said it was fear mongering. She refused to provide any kind of analysis, and she said there would be support funding available at some point in the future. She was dismissive of the questions and stonewalled any attempts at getting accurate information during the committee stage debate on bill 23 and 28 [bills about the deferrals],” said Rustad.

“The provincial government has decided to play politics with the livelihood of thousands of hard working men and women in the forest sector. They are more concerned about looking good to the environmentalists than managing our forests properly. Forestry and forest products are the most environmentally friendly and renewable products our society can use. It is frustrating to see this government throw these people under the bus simply because they think it will benefit them politically,” he continued.

READ MORE: Impacts of old growth deferral on Burns Lake

READ MORE: Old-growth forest marchers in Victoria demand logging moratorium


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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
eddie.huband@ldnews.net
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