Responses from a survey of the provincial party’s positions on the management of New Brunswick’s most abundant resource leading to the provincial election in September 2018.
1. What is your party’s position on the Private Woodlot Silviculture Program?
Green Party: “It is inadequate to foster sustainable forest management, restoration forestry, and managing for high value wood products.”
People’s Alliance Party of NB: “Our position regarding Silviculture is the promotion of natural regeneration with the interventions of tree planting while respecting the diversity of species.”
Progressive Conservative Party: “We understand the importance of silviculture in terms of return on investment for private woodlot owners in our province. Our party is committed to working with private woodlot owners and will work to ensure necessary support is provided for silviculture development.”
Liberal Party: “Since we have been in office, we have invested in this program to help meet current and future needs of the industry. A Liberal government would continue to contribute to the development of private woodlot silviculture by providing funding for the program and by helping maintain growth and benefit from leveraging opportunities”
NDP: “The NDP is in support of programs that assist New Brunswick’s private woodlot owners in managing and increasing the value of their woodlots, while at the same time providing employment to New Brunswick’s woodland workers.”
2. What is your party’s position on ensuring that the marketability of private wood is not impacted by company access to Crown wood?
Green Party: “The first step is for the Department of Energy and Resource Development to enforce the relevant provisions of its own Crown Lands and Forests Act to ensure proportional access to the wood market. Secondly, the system for allocating and charging for wood supply from Crown lands must be reformed to eliminate the competitive advantage it gives to wood producers on Crown land. We would cancel contracts with licenses signed by the Alward government that guarantees them a 25-year increase in wood supply.”
People’s Alliance Party of NB: No response.
Progressive Conservative Party: “We share your concerns regarding company access to crown wood and its impact on marketability. Our party is committed to analyzing the Forestry Deal signed in 2014, and will make a determination based on impartial analysis to ensure we get the right deal for woodlot owners.”
Liberal Party: “We see the potential for greater use for private wood but we are bound by memorandums of agreement signed by the previous government in early 2014. The process that led to the signing of these contracts by the previous government lacked transparency. Being fully aware of the consequences of such a lack of transparency, we decided to make the agreements public on Dec. 10, 2014. Until these contracts expire, we will continue to monitor the proportion of private wood being marked as we aim to respect the act regarding its stated proportional supply. Meanwhile, a Liberal government will continue to work with the New Brunswick Forest Products Commission to conduct a market of ongoing wood transaction data to ensure the Department of Energy and Resource Development has up-to-date information on the market. We will continue working to create favourable conditions for future private forest sector investments, including improving trade through cooperation with industry and the federal government, to ensure New Brunswick’s position with international trade partners is secured. We will also work to ensure the appropriate infrastructure for strategic corridors is in place for the efficient transportation of products from all industries through ports, rails, and roads. “
NDP: The NDP recognize that the current situation, with the loss of bargaining strength, and a steady decrease in the price paid for wood on private land has led to a situation where private woodlot owners are no longer able to draw a reasonable income from their woodlots. One of the first steps required to address this problem is once again to enforce the provisions of the Crown Lands and Forests Act that give the Marketing Boards the ability to negotiate on behalf of all private woodlot owners. The second step is to regulate the amount of wood being taken from Crown land until such time that the volume of wood from private ground once again forms the majority of wood moving through the gates of the province’s mills. This must be a clear forestry policy by government that supports private woodlot owner and does not undercut the price for private woodlot owners’ product for charging too low stumpage fees for crown lands.
3. Does your party support either Primary Source of Supply status for private woodlot wood or some other mechanism to ensure the sale of private wood is not impeded by other sources of wood supply?
Green Party: “The Green Party supports fair access to the wood market in New Brunswick, which requires government intervention to bring this about. We have consistently supported the restoration of private woodlots as the primary source of wood supply to the mills. Our platform has not been completed, so we cannot yet describe any other mechanisms we will champion to ensure the sale of private wood is not impeded by other sources of water supply.”
People’s Alliance Party of NB: “Our policy states that private woodlots should be the primary wood source and volumes and values be established prior to any crown land license operating approvals.”
Progressive Conservative Party: “We will work with all key stakeholders regarding the supply of wood to ensure we achieve the best value for consumers and suppliers.”
Liberal Party: “A Liberal government will direct the minister responsible through a mandate letter to ensure section 3.2 of the Crown Land and Forest Act of New Brunswick is respected and that management of private forest lands as the primary source of timber for wood processing facilities in New Brunswick may be encouraged.”
NDP: “The NDP firmly believes that subsidized and publicly owned crown wood should not be in competition with wood from private woodlots. “
4. Does your party see any value in a group negotiating system, such as the current Marketing Board System?
Green Party: “The Green Party supports the Marketing Board System and would ensure that it is not circumvented by the mills.”
People’s Alliance Party of NB: “Yes, it is necessary for a provincial marketing board group to be in place to establish a fair value of product from woodlot owners as the primary source of wood supply.”
Progressive Conservative Party: “We want private woodlot owners to be effective advocates for the industry. With that in mind, we will ensure the Forest Products commission has the necessary resources to ensure the industry is advocating in the best interests of all parties.”
Liberal Party: “Since we have been in office, we have protected and maintained the integrity of the Marketing Board System. A Liberal government would be open to any proposed amendment that would allow the industry to gradually adjust to the new conditions of traditional markets and develop new markets to ensure the long-term sustainability of private woodlot silviculture in New Brunswick”
NDP: “Yes, the NDP believes a single-desk-seller system, backed by strong legislation and enforcement, is one of the best ways to address the bower in-balance between small, independent woodlot owners and a small number of very large players in the New Brunswick forest industry.”
5. What is your party’s position on the current Crown Lands and Forests Act?
Green Party: “The Crown Lands and Forests Act needs to be re-written. It is outdated, is unfair, fails to assure ecologically sustainable forest management on Crown lands, and it fails to recognize indigenous rights and treaties as they apply to the use of Crown land. Green Party leader David Coon introduced a bill to amend the Crown Lands and Forests Act, which set out specific goals for the legislation to provide a framework for re-writing the legislation. We would replace the current legislation using this framework. We would replace the mills as the managers of Crown lands with publicly accountable management authorities. These could be cooperative business, First Nation, or public sector enterprises. We would also provide for the creation of Community Forest Licenses.”
People’s Alliance of NB: “Our platform is to amend the policy of crown land to be considered crown reserve with private woodlots as the primary source of supply.”
Progressive Conservative Party: “We are committed to working with private wood lot owners and considering their recommendations if changes are made to the regulatory framework of Forests and Crown lands act.”
Liberal Party: “Our current focus is on trade and the New Brunswick exclusion, and that will guide our decisions until further developments.”
NDP: “The NDP believes that the current Crown Lands and Forest Act does not serve the needs of the province and should be overhauled in consultation with Woodlot owners and other forest users to allow better forestry management practices to be implemented and overseen by Department of Natural Resources.”
6. Does your party have a position on Research and Development of new uses for primary forest products?
Green Party: “The current system of licensing and wood allocation makes it impossible for any enterprise to develop new uses for primary forest products, other than the current licensees and sub licensees. This has to change to create new business and employment opportunities in rural New Brunswick”
People’s Alliance of NB: No response.
Progressive Conservative Party: “It’s unfortunate that due to the inaction of the Gallant Government, New Brunswick missed out on funding from the federal government’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative. Our party will support concrete efforts to encourage innovation regarding the use of primary forests products.”
Liberal Party: “We are focused on growing New Brunswick’s Economy and innovation is a pillar of our Economic Growth Plan. Fostering greater business innovation, driving leading edge technology and generating new ideas is also one of the five priorities of our Atlantic Growth Strategy. A Liberal government will be focused on exploring growth and diversification opportunities for our industries. We want to build on New Brunswick’s proud tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship, and provide a strong economic foundation for future generations by supporting traditional industries such as the forest industry. We think that it is vital to our economy that we take advantage of new technologies to boost our innovative capacity as a province, foster a well-trained workforce, increase competitiveness and develop new market opportunities. We will continue to support efficient and competitive industries while providing sustainability, certainty and security for all that we value in the forest.”
NDP: “Yes, the NDP believes that when round logs cross ours borders, jobs go with them. We should constantly be striving to find ways to maximize the value of our natural resources within our own borders. To accomplish this, more funds need to be made available for research and development.”
7. What other policies does you party have regarding private woodlots, that would allow our members to perceive the future with optimism and confidence?
Green Party: “The Green Party regards woodlot owners, along with farmers and fisherman, as vital to the health of rural economies. We would take steps to ensure that woodlot owners and their families, along with other rural New Brunswickers, can flourish in thriving rural communities around which economic development initiatives must be designed. This has the begin with ensuring fair access to the market for the wood products woodlot owners produce.”
People’s Alliance of NB: “Our platform is for the re-establishment of forest extension services for woodlot owners and small businesses to develop their woodlots and optimize the benefits which would also include diversified and value-added or non-timer products.”
Progressive Conservative Party: “Tariffs introduced by the United States have led to lost revenue and a decline in confidence within the sector. We are committed to standing up for private woodlot owners and our party will work with our provincial and federal partners to ensure the industry is defended.”
Liberal Party: “We are focused, and working hard to secure exclusions from any trade remedies that may be initiated by the American government, whether imposed through managed trade or through litigation. Since 2014, Premier Brian Gallant and other government representatives have been lobbying the federal and American governments in support of New Brunswick’s exclusion. We have made submissions to the United States Department of Commerce calling for an open, undistorted market for New Brunswick lumber. In addition, we have organized trade missions, including forestry exporters, to targeted growth markets in Europe and China to help business diversify. A Liberal government will continue to engage the local forestry sector and pursue every avenue we can in support of it. As well as work with the federal government through the Federal-Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber, to resolve this important issue.”
NDP: “An NDP government would implement a new forestry strategy. After consultation with all stakeholders, we would allow a variety of woodcutters to have access to Crown forest while encouraging older growth forests, stopping the clear-cutting that is detrimental to forest and soil ecology, and stopping spraying of glyphosates and other sprays harmful to forest health and perhaps human health. An NDP government would review best practices and find a made in New Brunswick solution to provide fair access, while being environmentally and socially responsible and providing the best economic advantage possible to as many people as possible. We would take back the management of our forests from large corporations. Under an NDP government, our crown land would be managed to support emerging value-added industries in the province for the benefit and jobs of many New Brunswickers. We would encourage innovation and high value products for here and around the world.”