The strongly worded document essentially puts non-governmental organizations such as Green Peace and the Rain Forest Action Network on notice that their campaigns to undermine the provincial forest industries in Ontario and Quebec will no longer be tolerated.
The resolution contends that all forest products companies in Ontario are governed by the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, bound by stringent environmental standards and their products are sustainable. It notes that disinformation campaigns based on ideology rather than science targeting customers of sustainable provincial forest products negatively impacts local economies and threatens the livelihood of citizens in Kenora and other regional communities.
The resolution advocates that these organizations be “held accountable” for the effect these campaigns have on the industry and their customers, forestry workers and communities. It demands that the NGOs “cease and desist” all campaigns targeting consumers of renewable forest products harvested from Ontario’s boreal forest.
Councillors were unanimous in their request for more time to review and research the issue in order to make an informed vote on the resolution.
“We’re experiencing the ‘hangover’ of clear cutting,” observed Coun. Sharon Smith, acknowledging the modern approach to sustainable forestry is a far cry from the “bad forestry practices” of the past.
Coun. Louie Roussin along with councillors Rory McMillan and Dan Reynard also indicated they would not support the resolution without an opportunity for further review and consideration.
Mayor Dave Canfield, who was formerly employed in the forestry industry as a heavy equipment operator at the Kenora paper mill, agreed to defer the matter until next month’s council meeting. However, he didn’t mince his words in condemning the actions of the non-governmental organizations.
“This has been going on for a long time. Ontario’s forest industry is held to the highest standards in the world yet it’s continually under attack by organizations that are ideologically opposed to cutting down trees,” he said. “We’ve listened to their misinformation and lies long enough and now the fight back is going to start from the municipal sector across the province.”
The mayor referred to Ontario Forest Industry Association statistics citing less than 0.5 per cent of the provincial boreal forest is harvested annually, employing more than 200,000 people in 260 communities across the province. More than 44 per cent of the boreal forest in Ontario is protected and not available for cutting. He noted there are no old growth forests in Ontario as the natural age cycle of the trees tops out at about 150 years according to species and as converters of carbon monoxide into oxygen, trees are most productive between 20 and 80 years of age.
“If we’re serious about climate change, the answer is to cut and plant more trees,” he said. Canfield added Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forests Bill Mauro is scheduled to speak on the sustainability of the province’s forest industry at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association annual meeting in Thunder Bay later this week. The mayor noted that the NOMA executive board, of which he is currently president and nominee for re-election, will be preparing for an upcoming meeting on the issue with counterparts from the province of Quebec.