08 SEPTEMBER 2014
(FREDERICTON, NB) -- Standing outside a once-shuttered sawmill that's getting back on its feet thanks to local investors and woodlot owners, Green Party Leader David Coon unveiled his plan to bring fairness to the harvesting of timber on Crown lands.
Joined by Andrew Clark, former president of the Federation of Woodlot Owners of New Brunswick and the Green Party candidate in the Carleton riding, Coon called for a new "Fair Share" approach to the utilization of the province's forest resources.
"Independent sawmills do not have fair access to wood on Crown lands because it is controlled by the big forestry companies, so those mills are constantly having to shut-down and lay-off their workers," Coon said. "Furthermore, First Nations are left out of the picture, and it is impossible for start-up companies to get access to forest resources under the current system," the Green Party leader said. "We are going to change this to create new local business opportunities and new local jobs, and to include First Nations."
Coon announced his party's plan to bring fairness to the forestry sector. If elected, the party will:
· Enact legislation immediately to cancel all contracts signed by the Alward Government with forestry companies, which guarantee a 25-year increase in wood supply and obligate the government to supply wood at competitive prices.
· Restore the status of private woodlots as the Primary Source of Supply for the big forestry companies.
· Replace the Crown Lands and Forests Act with a Crown Land and Forest Sustainability Act that takes the management of the Crown lands out of the hands of the big companies like J.D. Irving and Fornebu Lumber. Forest management services would instead be provided by cooperative, social or business enterprises under agreements with the Department of Natural Resources, First Nations, or municipalities, as appropriate.
· Provide for the creation of Community Forest Licences, as has been done in British Columbia, adjacent to and within First Nations and municipalities.
"The Crown lands should be a tremendous source of local green jobs and green business opportunities that strengthen our rural and First Nation economies. It is not, and the Green Party plan will make it so," Coon said.