Out Front This Week
WORKERS, ENVIRONMENTALISTS & CONCERNED CITIZENS EXPECTED TO PACK PUBLIC HEARING ON SOUTH ISLAND
A public hearing into the Capital Regional District's (CRD) plan to freeze most development on huge tracts of land on southern Vancouver Island is being held this week. It is expected that activists and concerned citizens will be out in full force to support the protection of land stretching from Sooke Potholes to Port Renfrew under a proposal that would limit lot sizes to120 hectares.
The unusual move by the CRD is in response to a decision by Forests Minister Rich Coleman that permitted Western Forest Products to remove 28,283 hectares of private land from three tree farm licences on Vancouver Island, without paying compensation. The company then put more than 2,500 hectares of land on the market for non-forestry-related development.
The land includes the Jordan River townsite and popular recreation areas close to Sooke Potholes and Juan de Fuca Trail. The announced sale of the forest land for development provoked a public outcry among a wide range of labour, environmental and community activists.
LABOUR MOVEMENT BACKS STORA ENSO WORKERS
Both the ICEM, the global union federation representing pulp and paper workers, and the BWI, the federation representing building and woodworkers worldwide, have sent messages of protest to Stora Enso, a major paper, wood and forestry multinational based in Finland. The letter from BWI General Secretary, Anita Normark, states, in part::
“Our federation and our affiliated unions globally are deeply concerned with your company's neglectful social responsibility regarding Stora Enso's intended mill and paper machine shutdowns in Finland. We are also deeply troubled that the Finnish government, a major stakeholder in Stora Enso, is not doing more to preserve family-sustaining jobs in areas of Finland in which these jobs are so pivotal to the very existence of entire communities.”
The dispute with Stora Enso involves the announced layoff of one thousand jobs at the company's Kemijärvi and Summa mills in Finland. After mandatory negotiations between Stora Enso and the representatives of the workforce broke-off on January 17, 2008, workers walked off the job in protest. The paperworkers' union is demanding the company agree to sell the mills and asserts that there are potential buyers interested in running both mills. The union is still counting on intervention by the Finnish government, which holds 16% of company shares and controls 35% of the votes.
MP BELL WORKING TO FIX AILING FOREST SECTOR
As the federal Parliament resumes sitting, MP Catherine Bell is planning to continue her hard work to get the Natural Resources Committee to launch an intensive study of the challenges facing Canada’s forest industry. The goal of the study is to provide a comprehensive framework for developing a sound, sustainable forest policy and is scheduled to commence when the House reconvenes and will consume approximately six Committee sessions before being presented to the House of Commons. The Committee will hear from a variety of concerned parties including representatives from industry, labour, environmental organizations, First Nations, and community groups.
“In Canada there is a growing crisis in the forest sector,” the Vancouver Island MP told the Natural Resources Committee last Fall. “Raw logs are being exported at an alarming rate. Mills are closing resulting in substantial job loss. I see this happening, not just in my own riding, but all across the country and people and our communities are hurting because of it.”