With little fanfare, generations of workers and communities are being discarded in the fallout from the BC government’s pro-corporate forest policies. The latest casualties, the communities near Canfor’s Taylor and Upper Fraser mills.
Canfor will have shut down the Taylor planer mill (the sawmill was already mothballed) in March as part of its move to consolidate its processing operations in supermills in the North: Houston, Fort St. John and Prince George.
Absent from what little media coverage there has been is any discussion of whether companies should be able to close mills yet keep their rights to log public forests. Historically, the requirement that tenured logs be milled in local mills to produce jobs was referred to as appurtenancy.
Last year, the current BC government erased this longstanding requirement –that had been a fundamental tenet of BC forest policy for generations — with the stroke of a pen.
Despite promises to be the “most open and accountable government” in BC history, they made these changes after consulting only with executives from big logging companies (who happen also to be the biggest donors to the Liberal Party). There was no consultation with the communities, workers, First Nations, environmentalist affected.
No one bothered to raise the fundamental questions: Why should Canfor and other big companies that choose to close mills continue to control the wood supply and decison-making through tenures to public forests – forests that these companies paid virtually nothing for when granted?
They shouldn’t. That is why concerned citizens, labour organizations, First nations, municipal leaders support the pr-community, pro-worker, pro environment forest policy of the Coalition for Sustainable Forest Solutions
Corporate consolidation and worker-less automated mills are not inevitable. They are by-products of the Liberal neo-conservative philosophy that worships markets and that believes that what is good for corpoartion in BC is good for BC.
Workers laid off — in Vancouver (Eburne), Taylor, and Upper Fraser by Canfor, in Barriere by Tolko, in Youbou by TimberWest — all know better.
However, stopping the corporatization of our future, our public lands and resources, will not be easy. Nor will it be easy to implement sustainable alternatives. We must work together, build new alliances, put aside historic differences, develop new appraoches.
Dogwood Initiative is working to catalyze just such a response. Please join us in our efforts.