The next step in the Liberals’ mission to give public resources to logging corporations is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks – the new compensation regulations.

Remember the government’s promise in the ersatz Forest Revitalization Act to provide $200,000,000 in cash compensation to logging corporations as payback for tenure reallocations? Well it’s about to become reality!

And rumour has it that many of the corporate leaders are very unhappy with the proposed compensation regulation.

Poor woe begotten logging corporations. Weren’t the plethora of pro-corporate, anti-labour, anti-community, and anti-environment legislative and regulatory changes brought into effect over the past year or so sufficient to satisfy their greed? Apparently not.

While the coming weeks will be filled with industry’s spin on the reallocation of a portion of their logging rights, the real question should whether any compensation whatsoever should be paid.

The $200,000,000 in cash compensation is unprecedented and tragically unnecessary! People should be aware that no previous government has paid compensation to companies for changes to forestry legislation or tenure – in fact every previous government has explicitly created legislation that precludes compensation.

But what do you expect from a government whose biggest donor group is, by a wide margin, logging corporations. Not a bad return on $3,434,395 in campaign contributions.

Let’s review what benefits logging corporations have received from this government to date:

  • The forestry amendments have made existing public forest tenures more like private property.
  • Corporations will now determine who controls public lands. They will be allowed to sub-divide and sell tenure, and these significant decisions will not be subject to public approval.
  • Corporations will be in charge of virtually all forestry planning – even setting their own results.
  • Corporations will be allowed to close mills and lay off workers, yet maintain near-monopoly control over public forests.
  • And if the “Working Forest” boondoggle is implemented this spring then they will also benefit from timber targets and a locked in land-base for commercial forestry.

Collectively, these changes are worth enormous amounts to tenure holders. Witness the flurry of mergers and acquisitions as new and old owners try to consolidate their positions and cash out.

While some companies are prepare to take whatever unnecessary compensation offered and run, corporate greed knows no bounds. Informed sources tell us that some gluttonous U.S.-owned corporations are threatening to invoke NAFTA Chapter 11 provisions to challenge the compensation regulations, if their demands for more public moneys are not addressed.

The NAFTA issue is close to Dogwood Initiative’s heart. Back in 1999 during our Campaign To Stop Corporate Concentration, we publicly debated Weyerhaeuser executives about their potential use to claim extraordinary compensation for future reductions in their cut using NAFTA.

In a debate on CBC radio Dogwood Initiative succeeded in getting Weyerhaeuser’s legal counsel to say they would never use NAFTA. We responded that U.S. corporate law would require them to use Chapter 11 as shareholders could sue them if they didn’t. We suggested that they commit their promise to writing in the form of an agreement indemnifying the BC government against any future NAFTA claims.

Unfortunately, the NDP government of the day dropped the ball and didn’t include indemnification in the conditions attached to their approval of the transfer. Perhaps the governement should get a transcript of radio show and remind Weyerhaeuser of its promise.

We’ll keep you updated on the reallocation and compensation issues as they develop.