Premier dodges responsibility for softwood lumber dispute

VICTORIA (February 28, 2019) – At a time when B.C. forestry-based communities are hurting throughout British Columbia, Premier John Horgan declared in the Legislature today that it’s not his job to stand up for the province in softwood lumber negotiations, even though he regularly meets with Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.

“Last week the premier of New Brunswick headed a joint mission with other premiers to Washington and met with all state governors, yet Premier John Horgan was notably absent,” said Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Critic and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. “British Columbia is responsible for 50 per cent of all softwood lumber exports to the United States; Horgan should be on the forefront of Canadian efforts to resolve the dispute.”

“There are 140 forestry-dependent communities in our province that are suffering without a softwood lumber deal,” said Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart. “I have had constituents come into my office literally in tears because of rolling layoffs at the local mill. I am appalled the Premier of this province called MLAs ‘whiners’ during Question Period today for putting pressure on the government to act. The Premier said nearly two years ago that he would be directly involved in negotiations, but we haven’t seen or heard anything since.”

“Premier Horgan held a joint news conference with Governor Inslee just weeks ago and never even raised the topic of softwood lumber,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “We have a premier who appears in lots of photo ops but seems afraid to act on behalf of the forest industry.”

“I use every opportunity to get this government’s attention when it comes to forestry and supporting the families who depend on this industry to make a living,” said Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes. “The softwood lumber dispute can only be solved through leadership that this premier is sadly lacking.”

During a heated debate during Question Period today, Premier Horgan said this is “….an arrangement between two nation-states that has been a perennial problem between our two countries.” Horgan also accused Opposition MLAs of “…whining about it.”

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