Archive | Forestry

Grassy Narrows First Nation on alert for logging – by Crystal Greene (CBC News Aboriginal – February 3, 2014)

Longest running First Nations blockade effectively stopped logging since December 2002

The Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows) is on alert for logging trucks to come in April 2014. Grassy Narrows is the home of the longest running First Nations blockade in Canada. Its original Slant Lake blockade site, about 100 km north of Kenora, Ontario, started on December 2, 2002.

Judy DaSilva is a member of Grassy Narrows First Nation and has been on the forefront right from the start. “As a mom, I’ll do whatever I can to protect the forests, pretty much the other moms around here have the same mindset,” said DaSilva a mother of five with concern for the future generations.

In 2002, DaSilva was tired of seeing mercury debilitate her people, watching logging trucks pass by her home and took action.

Last year, DaSilva won a Michael Sattler Peace Prize from the German Mennonite Peace Committee for her non-violent direct-action approach in the blockade at Grassy Narrows traditional territory, within the Treaty 3 region. Logging halted for over 11 years, but in the past few months things are picking up once again. Continue Reading →

Liberals’ latest disaster in works leaves northern Ontario vulnerable – by Christina Blizzard (Toronto Sun – December 18, 2013)

TORONTO – It’s almost as if the Liberal governments of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne want to turn out the lights in northern Ontario, shut the place down and walk away from it.

The disastrous decision to shut down Ontario Northland Railway — a vital passenger link for northern communities — was bad enough. It was supposed to save $230 million. Last week we heard from auditor general Bonnie Lysyk it will probably cost around $820 million to shut it down.

The latest disaster in the works is a plan to cut Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) fire services to Kirkland Lake — a plan that will leave an area the size of France without fire protection, says Kirkland Lake Mayor Bill Enouy.

“We have no protection in Timiskaming right now because they tell us they’re protecting us from Cochrane or Timmins, which are 145 km away,” he told me. Kirkland Lake was hard hit by forest fires in 2012. Without the MNR firefighters, those infernos would have been even more devastating. Continue Reading →

Logging plan would deepen the tragedy at Grassy Narrows – by Simon Fobister (Toronto Star – November 3, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Simon Fobister Chief of Grassy Narrows Band

Forty years ago, Ontario devastated the community of Grassy Narrows by dumping mercury into its river system. If the province goes ahead with its logging plan, it will do it again.

Premier Kathleen Wynne came to our community in the summer of 2012 and said she wanted to rebuild Ontario’s relationship with Grassy Narrows. She said that this time she wanted to “get it right.” Instead, her officials have continued to unilaterally pursue clearcut logging plans for our homeland.

These plans were and continue to be developed without our participation, knowledge and consent. We are frustrated that these processes are conducted entirely outside of the five-year-long process we have undertaken in good faith with Ontario to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to these issues. Continue Reading →

Ontario sacrificing forestry jobs – by Peter Politis (Timmins Daily Press – October 25, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Peter Politis is Mayor of Cochrane

TIMMINS – Few who understand the dynamics of the North would argue that diversification of the northern economy is both challenging and necessary.

Few Northerners would argue that the region we live in, that occupies 90% of the entire provincial land mass, is on a slippery slope to becoming little more than an uninhabited backyard for the well‐intended, but misguided, southern voters to visit on occasion.

What should be seen as a rare 21st century frontier of opportunity instead seems to have been reduced to a limited colony consumed by irrational extremism fuelled by what can seem like political cowardice and a society that loses its grip on sensibility at times.

Once again, as a mayor fighting alongside many other mayors to not only keep our way of life from falling into the abyss, but our entire future as a region as well, I’m left feeling frustrated over the lack of urgency or priority critical Northern matters receive. Continue Reading →

The boreal flying pigs agreement – by Peter Foster (National Post – October 2, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Those responsible for negotiating and extending the 2010 Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) are on a charm offensive, claiming that the agreement has been a great success, and should be a template for similar agreements in industries such as oil and gas.

No word if they are also pushing a Canadian Flying Pig Agreement (CFPA).

Under the CBFA, members of the Forest Products Association of Canada, FPAC, were forced into bed with a group of radical anti-development environmental NGOs — including the Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and ForestEthics — to negotiate development of one of the largest forests in the world.

Avrim Lazar, the former bureaucrat who headed the association when the deal was signed, is doing the media rounds explaining how boffo the CBFA has been. Also on the promotion circuit are Bruce “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” Lourie, a renowned chemophobe and environmental alarmist, and Aran O’Carroll, the CBFA’s interim executive director. Mr. Lourie, as president of the Ivey Foundation, helped “broker” the CBFA, along with the giant U.S.-based Pew Charitable Trusts, the ironic legacy of the Pew family that pioneered commercial development of Canada’s oil sands. Continue Reading →

Getting better all the time – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (September 27, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

THE GLASS in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario appears to be half-full and then some. Economic prospects are being touted, even on the once-dicey forestry front which is making a nice comeback after a recessionary bust. We will not see the same kind of forest industry any more. Instead, we will see advanced versions of traditional forestry and new ways to use trees. In a region where an estimated 60,000 jobs were lost to a perfect storm of economic, political and market challenges, any news of improvement is good news. There was some of that at a conference in Thunder Bay this week.

Where all but the hardiest pulp, paper and sawmills closed in the face of the 2008 recession, new growth is under way in innovations like biofuel. The Ontario generating station in Atikokan, for example, is being converted from coal to burn wood pellets and forestry in that region is rebounding to provide them.

The big pulp mill in Terrace Bay that thrived for years making traditional pulp for longtime owner Kimberly Clark’s Kleenex tissues, then closed, has been purchased by an Indian company that is converting it to produce dissolving pulp instead. The rayon ingredient is in high demand for textiles — everything from rayon to cellophane to tire cord — and specialty paper products like filters, among other products. Continue Reading →

New Tory platform fighting caribou ESA plan – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 12, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Two key criticisms of the caribou conservation plan will be addressed by the Ontario Tories’ revamping of Endangered Species Act, says the party’s natural resources critic.

MPP Laurie Scott (PC – Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock) told The Daily Press Thursday the Progressive Conservatives will unveil a natural resources/northern development platform in Thunder Bay on Monday which outlines promised changes to the ESA.

Scott said the Tories would make it mandatory to consider the socio-economic impacts of any recommendations made under the ESA before its implementation. “Right now the legislation has it that the minister may consider socio-economic factors. We’re saying it must consider the socio-economic factors,” said Scott.

The Tories would also require that any scientific analysis used to determine recommendations would have to be posted publicly to the Environmental Registry to allow stakeholders to provide input.

While these changes would apply to the ESA as a whole, they also respond to key concerns raised by organizations like the Ontario Forest Industries Association about lack of peer-reviewed science and absence of any consideration of socio-economic impact in the caribou conservation plan. Continue Reading →

Industry facing cut in wood allocation for caribou – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 3, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Despite reassuring words from provincial politicians, the forest industry still faces a massive reduction in wood volume due to caribou conservation efforts being proposed in this region.

“On the Abitibi River Forest, it’s a disaster because they have not changed the long-term management direction one iota,” said Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis. “The existing long-term management direction sees about a 65% volume loss in 25 years which will devastate towns right from North Bay to Hearst.”

This is a marked change in tone from two months ago. Industry and municipal politicians were hailing Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources when it formally acknowledged the Crown Forest Sustainability Act fulfils the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

However, the decision to harmonize these acts hasn’t made any difference to the caribou conservation efforts being implemented on the Abitibi River Forest.

“What the MNR is doing, they’re trying to recover caribou all over the place, all the way down south of Lake Abitibi where they don’t exist right now,” said Politis. “That’s what’s causing the problem.” Continue Reading →

ForestEthics fights for one-way democracy – by Peter Foster (National Post – August 16, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The question is whether eco storm troopers will abide by the decision if they lose

Eco radicals have a highly flexible approach to public participation, but little or no flexibility on its allowable conclusions. When it comes to forcing a green agenda on people – say, via removing the right to object to local wind farms in Ontario — they are all in favour. When it comes to new pipelines, however, they believe in the widest possible consultation, but with only one acceptable decision: Ban them.

This week the government’s regulatory streamlining legislation for new energy projects, contained within 2012’s Omnibus Bill C-38, was the subject of a lawsuit by an arm of San Francisco-based environmental group ForestEthics, which has for years been front and centre in anti-oil sands and anti-forestry activism.

A subsidiary, ForestEthics Advocacy, FA, and an individual named Donna Sinclair, both represented by celebrity Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby, FA’s chairman, sought to overturn the government’s provisions on the basis that they restrict freedom of speech, not to mention threatening the survival of life on earth. Continue Reading →

Right decision, finally, on Endangered Species Act – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – June 4, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Environmental lobby groups would have you believe the government has given free rein to the forest industry and that endangered species are now at risk of extinction.

The outcry by environmental groups over the province’s decision to harmonize requirements under the Endangered Species Act and the Crown Forest Sustainability Act should come as no surprise.

After all, special interest groups had a free hand in drafting the original ESA. In fact, environmental groups boasted in an Ivey Foundation report about how effective they were in limiting the industry’s input.

Credit the Ontario government for recognizing the redundancies and myopic slant of the regulations that ignored impacts on resource industry-dependent communities.

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with forest management process knows the industry does not have the free rein to clearcut and destroy wildlife habitat. Despite environmentalists’ claims, there are Crown forests that have seen substantial reductions in available fibre due largely to caribou conservation efforts. These have all been implemented through a conventional forest management planning process. Continue Reading →

ESA changes end caribou battle – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – June 4, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Forestry and municipal officials are hailing a provincial decision which they say finally balances the needs of both environment and industry. “After fighting all these years, this sounds too good to be true,” said John Kapel, sawmill operator and owner of John Kapel Enterprises in Timmins.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources announced Friday it will harmonize requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Crown Forest Sustainability Act. which will reduce red tape and eliminate overlapping regulations.

This is a move the Ontario Forest Industries Association has been asking the government to do for the last six years. The change comes into effect July 1.

Jamie Lim, OFIA’s chief executive, told The Daily Press, “The changes that are being made are based on the recommendations that were brought forward by the ESA panel in January,” which was made up of a varied range of stakeholders. “It will certainly assist in simplifying the rules not only for forestry but also municipalities and other sectors.”

Not everybody is happy. Immediately following the announcement, environmental lobby groups jointly issued a press release decrying the government’s decision. Continue Reading →

Industry, jobs and the environment (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial – May 23, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

It goes without saying, but there has to be a balance between environmental protection and economic interests, particularly in Northern Ontario. The economies of Northern towns and sensitive ecosystems depend on it. However, that balance was called into question this week by Resolute Forest Products, which pulled out of negotiations on the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement over how much land to set aside for conservation.

While environmentalists accused Resolute of not living up to its promises to protect habitat for caribou, the company said “draconian” demands by environmental groups would have forced the closure of multiple mills and multiple projects in both Ontario and Quebec.

Two of those projects in Northwestern Ontario — the restart of the Ignace sawmill and a new sawmill project in Atikokan — would have been shelved, and a Fort Frances paper mill would have closed, the company said, if it agreed to environmentalists’ terms.

Resolute said it put forward proposals for more protected areas, including an additional 204,000 hectares of forest for conservation in Northern Ontario, but it wasn’t enough for environmentalists. Company spokesman Seth Kursman said that the company “was not about to negotiate people’s livelihoods away.”

“Many communities have already been hit by the forest industry crisis, (so) we could not unilaterally support such measures,” he said. Continue Reading →

Lawyer argues Grassy Narrows ruling can help First Nations – CBC News Thunder Bay (March 20, 2013)

Bill Gallagher says First Nations can cite “honourable management” in Ring of Fire negotiations

A strategist and lawyer argues the recent court ruling against Grassy Narrows should actually be considered a victory for First Nations.

On Monday, Ontario’s Court of Appeal said the provincial government has the authority to issue logging permits on Grassy Narrows traditional territory, overturning a previous Superior Court decision that had sided with the First Nation.

But lawyer Bill Gallagher said the ruling also defines Ontario’s duty to consult with First Nations on the use of traditional land, and sets out “major obligations” for the Crown — a clarification he said has been missing until now.

“I think it’s a significant win,” Gallagher said, pointing to the court decision’s wording about how the province must use “honourable management” when dealing with traditional First Nations territories.

The ruling states that Ontario “cannot take up lands so as to deprive the First Nation signatories of a meaningful right to harvest in their traditional territories.” It also says the government must consult with First Nations. “That is a pretty pro-native set of rules that the crown now has to follow,” Gallagher said. Continue Reading →

Court overturns 2011 decision and rules province can grant logging permits in Grassy Narrows’ territory – by Alan S. Hale (Kenora Daily Miner and News – March 18, 2013)

Grassy Narrows received a major setback in its pursuit of controlling logging within its traditional territory on Monday.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has decided the wording of Treaty 3 does not prevent the Ontario government from issuing logging licences within the band’s traditional territory; overturning a lower court’s decision from 2011 which ruled the province could not do so because it impinged on Grassy Narrows’ treaty-protected rights to hunt and fish.

“We’re quite disappointed in hearing that the appeal was allowed and it was not in our favour,” said Grassy Narrows’ Chief Simon Fobister. “We’re definitely going to have to sit down with our legal counsel, the band council and the trapper (who originally brought the lawsuit) to review the decision … We’ll have to weigh our options and decide if we are going to appeal this to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We knew that (going to the Supreme Court) was going to end up being an option regardless of whoever won the case, and we’re going to be making that decision in the next little bit.”

Monday’s decision means the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has the sole jurisdiction to grant logging permits, including the one it granted to Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. (now called Resolute Forestry Products) in 1997 for a clear-cutting operation in the Whiskey Jack Forest inside Grassy Narrows’ territory, which caused the many years of litigation that lead to this point. Continue Reading →

Northern cities fight for forestry – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – March 14, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – With changes to Ontario’s forest regulations looming on the horizon, municipalities across the North are intensifying efforts to get the government to hear them out.

Earlier this week, the City of Timmins supported a resolution by the City of Kenora for what an associated report called “real sustainable forest management.”

The Kenora resolution, based on a backgrounder report written by the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) and the Northwestern Ontario Municipalities Association (NOMA), denounces some of the measures of the provincial government’s Endangered Species Act (ESA).

It states that less than half of 1% of Ontario’s forests are harvested each year, and that strict renewal plans must be in place before harvest.

It goes on to read, “Ontario’s forest sector already provides for the needs of species at risk through the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA), and that the forest sector is required to continuously update their management practices to be consistent with provincial recovery strategies developed under the Endangered Species Act.” Continue Reading →