In an unprecedented move, elected municipal officials and forest industry representatives from Quebec and Ontario met in Ottawa today to ask the various levels of government to step up their efforts to promote the sustainable forestry practices of Quebec, Ontario, and Canada on the international scene.
At a press conference, Jean-Pierre Boivin, representative of Fédération des municipalités du Québec (FQM), prefect of the Maria-Chapedelaine RCM, and president of Alliance forêt boréale; David Canfield, mayor of Kenora and president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities; Jamie Lim, CEO of the Ontario Forest Industry Association (OFIA); and André Tremblay, CEO of the Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) reiterated the important role of government in educating the world about the sustainable practices followed by Canada's innovative, wealth-creating forest industry.
"The sustainable use of forest resources is key to the way we use our lands and to the vitality of our communities in Quebec and Ontario. If our international customers stop buying products from the boreal forest based on misinformation, the thousands of workers in our municipalities who live off the forest will be the ones in danger," warned FQM director Jean-Pierre Boivin.
Kenora mayor David Canfield stated, "We look forward to working with all orders of government to set the record straight, reach out to customers of forest products sourced from Canada's boreal forest, and ensure these key customers from around the world continue to source their products from Ontario and Quebec with confidence."
With their first-hand knowledge of the practices followed by boreal logging companies, the mayors aim to provide a measured response to the campaign led by environmental activists who are unduly undermining economic vitality and jobs in their community. The mayors are appealing to the various levels of government to intervene to ensure that industrial activity in the boreal forest will be assessed based solely on the facts going forward.
An industry driven by sustainability
QFIC and OFIA representatives noted that the industry follows some of the most stringent forest practices, carries out its activities sustainably and responsibly, and provides quality jobs to thousands of workers in Quebec and Ontario, generating significant economic spinoffs in a number of regions and communities.
"With more than 150,000 direct and indirect jobs and $15.8 billion in revenue annually, the forest industry is the main economic engine in many of Quebec's regions. The federal and provincial governments must support us and take firm action to promote our good practices to counter disinformation campaigns aimed at major international customers before they cause irreparable damage to our communities," urged Mr. André Tremblay.
Ms. Jamie Lim added, "'Ontario's forest product sector is the province's second largest industrial sector, generating $11 billion in revenue and supporting 170,000 jobs. This is a significant return when you consider that only 0.5% of Ontario's renewable forests are sustainably harvested each year. Environmental groups like Greenpeace need to be held accountable for their misleading attack campaigns that damage the reputation of job creators and jeopardize the livelihood of hardworking citizens."
In connection with this morning's press conference in Ottawa, some 30 elected officials from Quebec and Ontario also came to meet with Denis Lebel, minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec