The Billion Dollar Scam

Forestry corporations must not privatize public timber access

by James Steidle March 11

With Canfor’s impending sale of timber harvesting rights to the McLeod Lake Indian Band, Stop the Spray BC is demanding the sale be blocked and to strip Canfor of its tenure instead.

In a deal potentially worth $70 million, the proposed sale will see Canfor profit off selling timber rights to a local First Nations. This follows a similar deal made with Peak Renewables where Canfor made a $30 million deal selling its timber rights in the Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area.

Logged area near Mackenzie, BC

In both cases, Canfor had shut down the mills and had been providing no local manufacturing jobs.  

“If a forestry company isn’t providing mill jobs with its tree farm licences or forestry licenses to cut, fair compensation for taking back those licences should be $0,” says Stop the Spray BC spokesperson James Steidle. “They should not be a tradeable asset for these corporations already earning billion dollar profits.”

Timber harvesting rights in BC across much of the province were handed out for no payment and were instead provided on the condition of employment and wildlife and fisheries management. 

The 1990 Review of Forest Tenures in British Columbia clearly states that the Forest Act granted tenures in exchange for “employment opportunities and other social benefits,” along with “managing for water, fisheries and wildlife resources.”

“At the end of the day, this contract never changed,” says Steidle. “At no point did we ever pass a law saying or intending that we were to give timber rights away altogether with no expectation of employment, community, or environmental considerations in return.”

“We never elected a single politician or government who said they would do this. In other words, that we would allow private companies and oligarchs to completely monetize exclusive access to a public asset and exploit it with nothing for the public in exchange, like what we are seeing today.”

Steidle wrote a more detailed analysis of how we have come to this point for the Evergreen Alliance, found here:

https://www.evergreenalliance.ca/analysis/22/

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