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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bird contacting wires causes massive Port Hardy power outage

The power outage started at 1:18 p.m. and lasted until 3:00 p.m.

Port Hardy Salvation Army serving lunch daily during pandemic

Centre is closed to the public, but overnight shelter, daily lunch and one-on-one services available

Port Hardy arena waiting for almost three million in grant funds needed for maintenance

The funds will be going towards upgrades to the arena and the lobby entrance.

Seniors housing in Port Hardy moves ahead with rezoning application

North Island seniors able to “age in place” in new facility, currently getting funding and permits

Port McNeill curling club will be getting a brand new paint job, thanks to residents

‘The generosity of this community never ceases to amaze me!’

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Most Read