Clark Jeopardizes B.C. Lumber Exports to U.S.
News release April 24 2017 from John Twigg, Leader, B.C. First Party
B.C. Liberal Party Premier Christy Clark is playing a dangerous game for cheap partisan gain when she blames “greedy U.S. lumber barons” for the impending levying of countervailing duties onto B.C. lumber exports into U.S. markets, warned B.C. First Party leader John Twigg in a statement issued Monday.
Late last week while out on the campaign trail Clark made some inflammatory comments while visiting a log home manufacturer in Williams Lake, accusing the trade problems on “the top one per cent in the United States that wants to line their pockets at the expense of the middle class,” said Clark, who previously has also taken some verbal shots directly at U.S. President Donald Trump.
“As Premier one would hope that Ms. Clark would be more circumspect but evidently her zeal to try to get re-elected at any cost got the better of her,” said Twigg, noting that the massive lumber trade is a complex arrangement with quirks and flaws on both sides of the border and in other exporting provinces in Canada, and that U.S. trade officials were expected to impose countervailing duties beginning tomorrow (April 25).
“With about one billion dollars a year at stake and the jobs of tens of thousands of workers and hundreds of companies across the province one would think that Clark would be more clever and astute than to take cheap verbal shots but obviously she is getting desperate,” said Twigg, who also is a candidate to be MLA for North Island, a region heavily dependent on the logging industry.
“While U.S. lumber companies obviously suffer from Canadian exports, some of the real reasons why Canadian lumber is so much cheaper go beyond the low C$ exchange rate and low stumpage rates and now include the reality that B.C.’s lumber trade lacks a market system that transparently sets a genuine fair market value.
“Back in the 1990s B.C. had an excellent system of regional log markets in which there was open bidding, providing greater returns to the provincial treasury, better access to wood for small sawmills and independent remanufacturers, proportionately less exporting of raw logs and – perhaps most importantly – the appearance of a transparent and fair open market to thwart American claims that B.C. lumber is subsidized,” said Twigg, who for many years was a business journalist closely following the industry as an independent member of the Victoria Legislative Press Gallery.
“Unfortunately former Liberal Party Premier Gordon Campbell cancelled those regional log markets and also the excellent Small Business Forest Enterprise Program, apparently as a sop to his donors amongst the major forest comapnies, and of course now Christy Clark is continuing those same bad policies,” said Twigg, who is based in Campbell River, also a town heavily dependent on forestry.
“Instead of calling the Americans bad names to try to win a few votes the Premier of B.C. should have been working months and years ago to implement new marketing systems for logs and more transparent taxing of them in order to forestall what was widely expected to be renewed attempts by U.S. lumber producers against B.C. and Canadian exports but of course Ms Clark did not do that, possibly because some of her major donors do not want to see such reforms and would rather live through layoffs and reduced production while the problem is again litigated at huge cost to everyone,” said Twigg.
“British Columbians deserve better than that and it’s another reason why the Liberals should be ousted in the election on May 9,” he concluded.
Twigg will be in Port Hardy and Port McNeill for today and tomorrow and can be reached at 778-348-0747.
Twigg Calls for More Local Action
on North Island Road Maintenance
News Release April 17, 2017
North Island candidate John Twigg is calling on the Campbell River and North Island chambers of commerce, civic governments and other public interest groups to be more vocal in support of better road maintenance efforts on the region’s poor and deteriorating road surfaces.
“Last week in a trip to Victoria, I was appalled by the poor condition of the Island Highway, which is pock-marked with potholes along the whole route,” said Twigg who is the new leader of the B.C. First Party.
“I realize the B.C. Liberal Party government recently announced a number of highway improvement projects, including one for resurfacing from the Campbell River airport turnoff to the city’s 14th Avenue entrance but that is too little, too late and obviously a pre-election ploy in the vain hope of electing a Liberal here,” he said.
The truth is, the Christy Clark Liberals have been short-changing NDP-held ridings like North Island in many ways for far too many years now, especially when they have been wasting so much money elsewhere,” said Twigg, noting the Premier is spending about $1 million of taxpayers’ money on her personal photographers as well as wasting millions, and even billions, of dollars on other misguided projects.
“This problem of the province under funding transportation needs is especially apparent in NDP held ridings, such as in relatively higher ferry fare increases here in North Island, but it is a province-wide problem too,” said Twigg.
Twigg applauded the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention, held recently in Campbell River, which passed an emergency resolution calling for a formal process for local government officials to provide input on highway maintenance standards and strategies. He said this shows the problem is a genuine concern affecting both the riding and Island.
“The recent deaths of four First Nations people on the highway near Gold River is another reflection of how the Clark Liberals have been neglecting transportation needs in the region,” he said, suggesting that if the riding had elected a Liberal it might by now have seen some long overdue improvements to the Gold River highway and many other routes to remote communities.
“It’s fair to say that the Liberals have blood on their hands over their neglect of our transportation needs because essential services like highways should not be a partisan issue,” he said, also criticizing the chambers of commerce and local governments for not being more aggressive in defending the public interest.
“While I was in Victoria I noticed many Liberal campaign signs along the highways, including one beneath a large government sign announcing the completion of a major highways project and the similarity of the coloring and messaging showed anew that it’s all about politics and not the public’s best interests.”
“It’s obvious that many business and government people want to keep the socialists out of power but that’s no reason to fall silent when the Liberal government neglects our needs,” said Twigg, whose family are longtime residents of Campbell River.
“It should be noted that I am not criticizing the staff in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, who generally do the best they can with the budgets they’re given, nor am I criticizing the road maintenance contractors who likewise must work within tight budgets,” he continued.
“No, the problem here is clearly with the Liberal government and their overly partisan political games they play, and it’s an excellent reason why they deserve to be turfed on the May 9th voting day,” he said.