Canfor and Slocan: The public's role

Under the Liberal government’s so-called Forest Revitalization Plan, the public has no opportunity for input about transfers of tenure over public resources.

In one of the most ill-advised examples of “let the market decide” ideology, this government has left all decisions about who gets to make decisions about public forests up to the market.

Until the government amended the Forest Act and related policies last spring and fall, all transfers of tenure required public hearings in affected communities. That’s no longer the case. The Liberal government has eliminated all requirements for public hearings when mills are closed, or tenures are transferred.

As a result, communities, workers and First Nations affected by corporate decisions no longer have any opportunity to engage in these important allocation decisions.

This change is an affront to democracy.

This is a particular affront to First Nations, given the recent BC court rulings indicating that they were to be consulted and accommodated before such decisions were finalized. Without consultation and accommodation, transferred tenures “may contain a fundamental legal defect” and may be “invalid“. Many view aspects of the recent forestry amendments as direct attempts to undermine these First Nation legal victories.

However, First Nations are developing strategies to challenge Canfor’s plans and the unconstitutional legislation. There will be opportunities for First nations and local residents to work together to respond to this and similar corporate initiatives. We hope to help them take those opportunities.

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