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Volume Ten, Number Two   March 2005   www.columbiajournal.ca



LOGGERS AND SIERRA CLUB IN AGREEMENT


Cheers in Duncan FOR Video Documentary

 Carole Pearson

When you have environmentalists and forestry workers in the same room, you would normally expect fireworks. But it was almost ‘group hug’ night in Duncan on February 3rd, 2005 when over 200 people jammed a conference room for the premiere showing of Exporting Jobs, a video on how the BC government is selling out the province’s forest communities.

The event was sponsored by the Youbou Timberless Society, the Council of Canadians, the Steelworkers’ Union and the Sierra Club of Canada. The Sierra Club’s Justin Calof drew names for the night’s meat draw, an irony lost on no one. However, as Calof wryly told Monday magazine, “I think we need to share in each other’s cultures.”

Before showing the video, the audience heard from Steelworkers (formerly IWA) Local 1-80 president Bill Routley who gave a rousing speech that brought cheers of support from the crowd of mostly forest workers. Voicing his criticisms of the BC Liberals and Ottawa on the softwood lumber dispute and raw log exports, he concluded with, “Wood workers cannot afford another four years of this government.”

The Sierra Club’s Calof talked of the need to reinvigorate the social contract, a long-standing arrangement making forest companies provide jobs and infrastructure to communities in exchange for harvesting rights on Crown lands. He explained how this principle has been corrupted and the results are mill closures, increased raw log exports and more control to corporations.

Rick Doman, former CEO of Doman Industries, is a corporate victim of the softwood lumber dispute. As a former employer, Doman explained the large multinational forest companies want to produce their wood products in countries where wages are cheaper. “Soon,” he said, “we’ll be buying back our own lumber.”
All of this is what prompted Council of Canadians member Jack Moss to pony up his own money to finance his production of Exporting Jobs. With little film experience but lots of enthusiasm, he enlisted Ernie Tomlinson to direct and the result is a pretty good primer on the raw log export issue.

Ignoring the occasional sweeping, stomach-churning camera shots a la IMAX, it otherwise comes across as a clear and informative effort and includes interviews with BC Forest Minister Mike De Jong as well as Jennifer Clogg from the Sierra Legal Defense Fund, David Suzuki, and the CCPA’s Murray Dobbin and Dale Marshall who wrote Down the Value Chain, a look at  the advantages of producing more value-added wood products and why the BC government should be doing more to promote these industries.
In the video, David Suzuki remarks how it troubles him when he drives over the Oak Street bridge and sees a giant IKEA store. “We have some of the best wood in the world. Why are we importing all this furniture when we should be exporting Canadian furniture?”

The Sierra Club and the Council of Canadians are hoping to hold similar forums around the province and show the video. They want to raise awareness of the issues that are threatening jobs and forest communities as a whole and hope to generate more support from people in Victoria and Vancouver who tend to forget the importance of our resource-based industries and the people employed in them.
Copies of Exporting Jobs are expected to be available soon for only $20.  It’s an opportunity for individuals and organizations to learn more about the harmful impact of the Campbell government’s forest policies on jobs, communities, the economy and the environment. For more information on the video, contact jmossis@island.net or the Victoria Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada.       




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