New B.C.–based Environment Minister must seek balance with natural resources

By Tony Kryzanowski

While I don’t agree on much these days with my former boss and founder of the old Reform Party, Preston Manning, I do agree with him on one piece of advice he recently delivered to the new government in Ottawa—do something.

I would add that they should try to do something ‘constructive’.

The optics are rather odd indeed these days when it is Ontario Premier Doug Ford and not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is dominating the airwaves and twitter feeds with calls for national unity. There are many Canadians asking themselves today whether Trudeau is a unifier or a disrupter. His recent appointments to cabinet suggest that perhaps he has learned a lesson.

There are numerous natural resource development challenges facing this new minority Liberal government, and in my view, there are three federal ministers in the current cabinet that are worth watching. These are Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Chrystia Freeland; Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson; and Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan.

The really interesting cabinet choice from a forestry perspective is the appointment of North Vancouver’s Jonathan Wilkinson to the Environment and Climate Change post. Here’s hoping that the appointment of a new western, B.C.-based environment minister with a history in business is Trudeau’s attempt to press the ‘refresh’ button on the environment file.

Described in the Globe and Mail as “business-oriented” and a former executive in clean tech with a long history of public service in the Saskatchewan government, he could be an excellent choice for the forest industry given his background and the constituency he represents.

If this government is truly ‘listening’, then perhaps Wilkinson could do something by way of a financial commitment from the federal government to help Alberta battle the advance of the mountain pine beetle. To date, the feds have refused to accept that this is an issue of national concern and according to the Alberta government, have provided no financial support in the battle. It is unfair, especially after the beetle flew into the province primarily through the national parks, to expect Alberta to pick up the full tab to fight the beetle, especially with the financial challenges this province currently faces.

Since addressing climate change seems to still be a top federal priority, and given Wilkinson’s background in clean tech, perhaps we could finally have greater interest shown in developing a national commercial tree farming program as part of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategy.

Focusing on one mitigation strategy, like using our large land mass to expand our forest resource, and thereby increasing our carbon sequestration capacity, is our best chance to actually meet our GHG reduction commitments without killing the fossil fuel industry in the process. The federal government, through Natural Resource Canada’s Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, has already developed the technology where deployment of an afforestation program is entirely feasible— providing a natural form of carbon sequestration, a new potential cash crop for landowners, and a raw material for greater development of wood-based bio-products by both the forestry sector and entrepreneurs.

I know that many forest industry executives may point immediately to solving the softwood lumber impasse as their biggest priority with the new government, and I agree. However, the long game still has to be market diversification, development of wood-based bio-products, and development of a commercial tree farming industry in Canada as both a supplementary fibre source to all branches of the forest sector and a tool to meet our GHG reduction targets.

The federal government now has an established national carbon tax, and I don’t believe it is going away any time soon. So, why not try to do something constructive with it?

As to Minister Freeland, there is no question that she is a good negotiator given her success in getting a deal on the new NAFTA, and she was born and raised in Peace River, Alberta, so she has a better understanding of natural resource development and Western Canada than our Prime Minister. There is the potential that she, along with Manitoba MP and former Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, could together find some common ground on issues that will stop parts of this country from talking about separation. Carr, who is now battling cancer, was appointed as the federal government’s special representative to the Prairies, following the election.

Progress toward a new Softwood Lumber Agreement with the United States would also be helpful, and given Freeland’s continued role on American matters, industry needs to help her to understand that it’s time for this issue to get the attention it deserves.

On the flip side, there are plenty of question marks with the appointment of Seamus O’Regan as Minister of Natural Resources. If, as many suggest, his real title is ‘Minister of Getting The Trans-Mountain Pipeline Built,’ the forest sector may have to work hard to capture his attention, particularly on the need for continued funding of such successful programs as the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program.

Logging and Sawmilling Journal

On the Cover:
In terms of operations and equipment, the status quo does not work for Andrew Johnson of Wolf Lake Logging and A&K Timber—he’s all about constantly improving his logging operations on B.C.’s Vancouver Island. The latest example of the constant improvements is now at work: the John Deere 959ML tilting hoe chucker/shovel logger (Cover photo by Paul MacDonald).

New forest management standards for FSC
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has launched a new national forest management standard, and it includes new or changed requirements in areas such as aboriginal rights and woodland caribou recovery.

New Deere hoe chucker gets coastal workout
Andrew Johnson of Wolf Lake Logging and A&K Timber is all about constantly improving his logging operations on Vancouver Island, and the latest example of the constant improvements was recently put to work: the John Deere 959ML tilting hoe chucker.

Small sawmill prepares for big investment
Ontario’s Papasay sawmill is preparing for some significant equipment investments as they continue the move into value-added wood products.

Hoe chucking in the Rockies—with Chucky
Alberta’s Caber Logging works in some very high elevation areas in the Rockies—where mountain goats call home—and they are using some specialized equipment, including their own home-built hoe chucker, nicknamed “Chucky”.

Fibre win all the way around
A new program in the B.C. Interior is providing jobs in the bush, improving wood fibre utilization and includes delivering fibre to a pulp mill on Vancouver Island—a win all the way around.

Getting the forestry-related digital help you need—now
B.C.-based Tolko Industries has partnered with Epilogue Systems, a developer of a digital adoption platform called Opus, to centralize and standardize documentation, giving employees access to an easy-to-use, single-source portal to quickly obtain information.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from Alberta Innovates, Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) and FPInnovations.

Tech Update
We take a look at the latest equipment in Hydraulic Grapple Carriages.

The Last Word
The new B.C.-based federal Environment Minister must seek a balance with natural resources, says Tony Kryzanowski.

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