PRINCE GEORGE - The BC Liberals are accusing the NDP government of failing to put the plight of the forest sector on Ottawa's radar, much as those of the Ontario auto industry has.
"Since this government has taken power, of course, we've seen the ongoing Softwood Lumber Dispute without any action at all by this government," says John Rustad, the Opposition Critic for Forestry. "During negotiations between Canada and the United States, there was a lot about steel tariffs, there's talk about autos and, even today, there's lots of talk about our oil and gas sector and the challenges they're going through and yet forestry has never been able to make it on the national stage."
John Rustad says government policies have created a very unattractive environment for investment by forest companies, which are opted to spend the money elsewhere.
But long-time NDP'er Lois Boone counters that claim, calling it "laughable."
"It really is a tragedy, what's happening right now and we're upset about what's taken place with the layoffs," she says. "But it's almost laughable when you think that they oversaw this ministry (forestry) with a hundred mills closed down, 30,000 jobs lost during their regime. And yet they did nothing. In fact, some of their policies added to things.
She adds the government is spending millions of reforestation and is sending the largest trade mission ever to Asia. Rustad says the government needs to add certainty around things like fibre supply, land use policy and environmental policy.
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