3 Feb 2008, 12:38pm
Public/Private Land Issues Rural Economics
by admin


Petersen, James D. Imagine. Speech to the 65th Annual TLA Convention, Vancouver B.C. Wednesday, January 16, 2008

James D. Petersen is Executive Director, The Evergreen Foundation [here] and 2007 President, Pacific Logging Congress

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

I have been asked to compare the timber industry/government relationship in the United States with the timber industry/government relationship in Canada, with the caveat that I can make this call as I see it, which very likely will not be how you see it.

But as they say, anyone who has traveled more than 50 miles from home is considered an expert, to be accorded all the rights, privileges and courtesies of such experts.

So imagine with me while I walk you through a comparison of the government and industry relationships in our two countries.

Imagine that you no longer have a voice in provincial forestry decision-making, none. Say what you will, but it carries no weight.

Imagine that any citizen living in British Columbia can oppose your harvest plan – and that person’s voice suddenly has more power than all of provincial voices that might be raised in support of your harvest plan.

Imagine living in a country with a “Sue the bastards” mentality. That’s the United States today. Any malcontent, any social misfit, any anarchist can go to court and stop a harvest plan in its tracks. There are environmental litigators standing on every street corner in the land who will gladly take the case for nothing. Why would a lawyer take a case for no money: because under our federal Equal Access to Justice Act, our taxpayers are forced to reimburse the lawyers for their court costs. This is how several of our most radical environmental groups fund their work. Creating and exploiting conflict has become a billion dollar industry in our country.

Imagine that your provincial government has surrendered your citizen voice to the most radical environmentalists living among you – and now says openly that those radical voices have constitutionally guaranteed rights that you don’t hold.

Imagine the unintended metamorphosis of a well intended federal law designed to protect fish, wildlife and plant species. It becomes the most powerful law in your country and is now used at will to stop any harvest plan, any plan for salvaging dead timber, any plan for development of any natural resource in your province: timber, minerals, water or energy.

Imagine that your British Columbia government is now so afraid of the political power it has given to environmental groups that it cannot muster the will or the courage to stop them from destroying your economy.

Imagine a day when your British Columbia government will no longer grant timberland licenses – and will instead acquiesce to B.C. taxpayers who believe their timber should be sold at auction to the highest bidder.

Imagine if your federal government owned the timber on which your livelihood depends. Would it be willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as your provincial governments have been, or would the anti-forestry views of those who live in Canada’s major cities be they only voices they heeded?

Imagine that your government no longer believes your industry is of any redeeming economic, environmental or social value – and does not care one whit whether or not your business survives.

The nightmare scenario I have just described has already come true in the formerly united states of America. I say “formerly” because ours is now a country divided – bitterly so I might add. We who live in rural environs share little in common with our urban countrymen. For that matter, we who live in rural environs often disagree loudly amongst ourselves as to the manner of management of our natural resources, especially our forests… [more]



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