British Columbia: When public representatives let big timber do whatever they want

The late singer Frank Sinatra had a popular song in which he bragged
repeatedly “I did it my way.” Well, like Sinatra, the big forest
companies have done it “their way” for a long time now with the
provincial and federal governments “playing along” in the “orchestra.”
But, unlike the Sinatra song, the results have been disastrous.

Get full text; support writer, producer of the words:,+forests+to+the+communities+%96+part+1+%96+%93we+did+it+their+way%94

Visit many forestry-based communities, especially smaller ones, in the
BC Interior or Vancouver Island and the results are grim. Mills
closed. Stores shut down. Families split up. Raw logs shipped out. For
many workers, contractors, suppliers and communities, both First
Nations and non-First Nations, it is a time of quiet desperation.

More than 10,000 jobs have been lost in the forest industry in BC, with
dozens of major mill operations closed, and many logging contractors
and secondary manufacturers gone out of business. A lot of this can be
blamed on external factors such as the U.S. housing collapse, the
downturn in the economy, and the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

But there have been many other signs that the BC forest industry lost its waylong before, including a lack of diversification of the industry and
its markets, lack of reinvestment in operations and in research and development, increased monopolization, a pronounced lack of oversight,
and a resulting huge wastage of the fiber “basket.” Things are so bad
that some big forest companies are even petitioning government to turn
forest assets into real estate, or, like Catalyst Paper, are
threatening to shut down mills unless municipal taxes are reduced.

Despite these difficulties and shortcomings, these big forest companies continue to control vast tracts of forest in the province that resemble the feudal estates of the Middle Ages. Like feudal estates, decisions are made by investors and financiers who are far removed from production and who live in Vancouver, Toronto or New York. If the company shuts down or suspends production, everything grinds to a halt, with communities, workers, local businesses and suppliers reduced to the role of mere spectators.

Get full text; support writer, producer of the words:,+forests+to+the+communities+%96+


Comments (1)

David BeachMarch 10th, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Beautifully written, Deane. Appreciated your comparison of the modern forest companies to feudal estates of the Middle Ages, and the poignancy of the final sentence.

Leave a comment

Your comment