The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA), one of the most ignominious deals in Canadian business history, is being quietly euthanized. Last week, its Ottawa-based secretariat was closed, without fanfare or eulogy. However, most of the agreement’s signatories seem as reluctant to admit its demise as they have been to acknowledge its true nature.
According to Derek Nighbor of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), which led the industry into the deal in 2010, the agreement isn’t really dead; it is “transitioning to a new model.”
Nighbor, a veteran of retail and packaged-goods industry associations, who has been head of FPAC for less than a year, claims that the CBFA has had its successes, and that forest companies are keen to “leverage the good learnings” from six years of “investment in bilateral decision-making.”
Lorne Johnson, a green consultant who was not merely a facilitator of the CBFA but its secretariat’s first co-executive director, agrees that “death” isn’t really the right word. It’s more a “recalibration of the delivery model.”
So what exactly is the CBFA, why was it a bad deal, and why is everybody so keen to claim that it is still nailed to its perch?
The modus operandi of radical environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOS), particularly those concentrating on the forest industry, since the theatrical protests at Clayoquot Sound a quarter-century ago has increasingly been to bring businesses to heel by harassing their customers. Then, in return for calling off the dogs, the ENGOs offer “partnership.”
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