NDP MP John Rafferty (Thunder Bay-Rainy River) last week tabled three forestry-related motions in the House of Commons which he hopes will serve as a blueprint for federal action to support the struggling sector.
“These motions are my attempt to put the forestry sector back on the federal agenda, and to provide some positive ideas for the government to pick up and run with,” Rafferty said.
“Ideally, I would hope it could serve as a blueprint for action to ensure the short-, medium-, and long-term prosperity of this important sector of the northern and rural economy in Canada,” he added.
The three motions–M-298, M-299, and M-300–call on the federal government to provide funding and loan guarantees to assist private enterprise in transforming the forestry sector from reliance on traditional activities to the emerging bio-fuel, bio-chemical, and bio-medical product markets.
They also aim to convene bi-annual forestry summits in support of a national forestry strategy, and monitor and counter unfair foreign subsidies in competing nations.
“Our forestry workers and local companies, like Goulard Lumber, deserve a fair playing field and their government to be on their side,” said Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle.
“That hasn’t happened so far,” he stressed. “We do need a national plan to turn those job losses around.”
Rafferty said several regional developments over the last decade, and in the last few weeks, convinced him that the troubles in the forestry sector must remain on the agenda in Ottawa.
“We’ve lost more than 60,000 direct forestry jobs in the last decade in Ontario, and the recent layoffs at the Resolute Forest Products mill in Fort Frances and the closure of the Terrace Bay mill tell me the crisis is ongoing and possibly intensifying,” he remarked.
“Ottawa must act now and I feel that I am obliged to offer some solutions as a member of Parliament,” Rafferty added.