B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks to Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, Vancouver, Sept. 26, 2019. (UBCM)

B.C. Liberal leader says forest workers ‘expendable’ under NDP

Log costs out of line, Andrew Wilkinson tells municipal leaders

Local politicians gave B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson their loudest applause for his call to do more for the province’s struggling forest industry.

Speaking to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention Thursday, Wilkinson described the plight of logging truck drivers who drove from all over the B.C. Interior to circle the Vancouver convention centre demanding action from the provincial government. Their horn-blasting protest lasted for hours Wednesday, resulting in a brief meeting with Forests Minister Doug Donaldson.

“Those people in those trucks are almost all contractors who owe something between $100,000 and $1 million to the bank, and they have no work,” Wilkinson said. “And many of them have told us they’ve had no work since May.”

Communities that have lost sawmill employment, such as Vavenby and Vanderhoof, have effectively been told “you’re expendable,” Wilkinson said, adding that Donaldson recently said in a radio interview that people who are losing their jobs at Hammond Cedar in Maple Ridge can get a job on the Pattullo Bridge replacement project.

RELATED: B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

RELATED: U.S. can’t show harm from Canadian industry: NAFTA panel

Wilkinson said B.C.’s stumpage charges on Crown land logs are up to 10 times higher than in Alberta, contributing to the highest log costs in North America, and the forest industry is shifting there as a result. Protesting truckers also called for reduced stumpage, which Donaldson has warned is a provocation to the U.S. industry that has already imposed import duties of around 20 per cent on B.C. lumber.

Asked about that risk, Wilkinson told Black Press that government is about “best practices,” and Alberta has out-competed B.C. with similar conditions.

“They’re dealing with the same government in the U.S.A.,” he said.

Wilkinson said the pain of rural communities was increased by $25 million that was “stolen” from the province’s Rural Dividend fund to include in a $69 million retraining and retirement package for four Interior communities that have mills closing.

That money and much more has been diverted into the NDP government’s union-only public construction program, which has raised the cost of a short stretch of highway widening near Revelstoke by millions, Wilkinson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

South Okanagan-West Kootenay candidates talk climate change and environment at recent forum

Forum on Tuesday grilled candidates about plan to bring about low carbon emission economy

Celgar says equipment failure won’t affect production next week

The chip dumper collapse on Oct. 6 is still under investigation

‘If we do nothing, the herd will certainly be extirpated’: Caribou maternity pen proposed in Nakusp

The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society is waiting for a response from the province

Man found dead in Vallican

RCMP say the death was “suspicious”

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Drop, cover and hold on: Thousands of British Columbians to take part in earthquake drill

This year’s drill comes as scientists announce discovery of ‘stormquakes,’ an earthquake and hurricane

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Frustration and pride in Canada after a year of legal pot

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

West Kelowna business facing charges after six bears killed over littering

A West Kelowna business has been charged for leaving garbage around Lake Okanagan Resort

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

Most Read