Another Heartlands Strategy?
Mike De Jong is mad as hell over softwood lumber. In 2000 and 2001 he beat up on the NDP government for failing to resolve the dispute. In 2002 De Jong said he would have it fixed in a year. Dumb thing to say, as it was not fixed and now the Americans are refusing to pay back duties they were orderd too.
As the softwood lumber deal goes down the drain, so are BC jobs. There is a way for the Minister to help BC logging towns in the short term. End raw log exports. Today raw logs go out at an alarming rate. BC mills are closing and can not access them.
To add further insult to logging communities, places like Youbou and Barriere see their jobs go by everyday. Where once the logs were milled in their towns, they are now trucked to other mills in other towns. This is possible as the government has removed the provision in the Forest Act that said logs be milled in a local facility.
In a forum held in Duncan on the issue of log exports former forest company CEO Rick Doman said "B.C. mills could find themselves buying their own logs back from the United States if raw log exports continue at the current level. Ultimately we're going to have more mills close down if this continues."
"These have been rough times for us in the industry and I can tell you I'm angry," said Bill Routley, president of the Steelworkers Local 180, pacing across the front of the room with the microphone.
Mike De Jong and the Campbell Liberals removed the one thing that did keep jobs local and add an additional barrier for these communities by allowing raw logs that they could mill, to be exported. Small towns just cannot catch a break from the Campbell Liberals. Instead of Heartlands, it has been Heartless!