The lack of a Softwood lumber agreement with the United States and ongoing duties continue to be a thorn in the side of BC’s struggling forestry sector.
Currently, most companies pay 8.59% in tariffs in order to ship their product south of the border.
BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon stated to local media in order for the province to shed its “highest cost producer label”, the NDP government needs to make a concerted effort to meet with officials neighbouring states like Washington and Oregon.
“I have been in politics long enough to know that it often takes multiple visits to the point where they get to know you on a first-name basis. They say things like ‘Hey Kevin, great to see you again, I take it you are here to talk forestry. You sit down and you have a chat and Americans will take the time for that. Americans are really good that way, they will sit down and meet with you but it’s got to be a regularized thing.”
“The industry in the states has been very challenging in terms of constantly going after our forestry sector, suggesting that everything we do here is unfair. They have never really understood the government’s role in the forest industry here in British Columbia. The whole idea of crown tenure completely blows their mind because that’s not the paradigm that they operate in.”
He added one-off visits from the provincial government are ineffective and can do permanent damage to the sector.
“An information vacuum allows them to spread myths about our industry that resonate with the congresspeople and senators in a lot of those border states that end up hurting our industry.”
In addition, Falcon also addressed the possibility of the north being on the verge of a mega bust.
Major projects like Coastal Gas Links and BC Hydro’s Site C Dam and LNG are finishing construction leading many to wonder what will come next in terms of employment and investment in the region.
He noted the NDP hasn’t given much thought on how to deal with an economic slowdown, but if LNG wants to begin a second phase, Falcon said his party would jump at the opportunity.
“I would still say let’s get it done now. Let’s give them a hard yes, you bet! Let’s go do this especially as we head into an economic downturn.”
“Where is the government on this?.”
“I’ll tell you where Kevin Falcon and the BC Liberals would be, and let’s make sure we make the investment with BC Hydro to provide the power needed so that they don’t have to run it on natural gas turbines, which would deal with some of the emissions concerns that some people have.”
Falcon adds in order for BC to secure a much greener future with electric vehicles and wind turbines, the province needs to utilize the minerals it has in abundance.
The opposition leader finished off his media session with a hot take stating the NDP appears to be ashamed of the province’s natural resources sector.
“I am sorry to have to say that but the NDP of 20 years ago wasn’t like that. They used to genuinely have MLAs from rural British Columbia and they fought for the resource communities even if I disagreed with some of their policies. They were connected to the communities and that is not the NDP of today. The NDP today is an urban government that only cares about urban issues and that’s unfortunate.”
Falcon was one of 1400 people to attend the BC Natural Resources Forum at the PG Conference and Civic Centre.