New Democrat candidate Bill Sundhu is supporting a plan to help forestry communities after what he says are years of neglect by Conservative and Liberal governments.

Sundhu was echoing a plan put forth by NDP House Leader Peter Julian, a Lower Mainland MP who met with workers at a Nanaimo mill Wednesday to discuss the party’s forestry policy.

“Under an NDP government, Ottawa will again be an active voice for forest workers, forest industries and forest communities,” said Sundhu. “Plant closures and job losses have mounted, raw log exports have soared and we have seen little or no action from the Harper Conservatives.”

He cited “concrete measures” that would help revitalize the industry, including:

An Innovation Tax Credit that would encourage manufacturers and sawmills to invest in machinery and equipment to keep their companies competitive, and a small business tax cut which would benefit many smaller forestry businesses.

Collaborating with provinces and industry to fight for Canada’s forestry sector in softwood lumber trade negotiations.

Working with the province of BC to reduce existing raw log exports, defend the restrictions on raw log exports in TPP negotiations and ensure B.C. logs create jobs.

“We need to keep Canada’s wood products and forestry markets competitive by diversification, investment in research and innovation, and promotion of value-added wood products in Canada,” said Sundhu.

Log exports have been debated in provincial elections since the 1990s with the NDP claiming that they export jobs as well. The forest industry has countered that, while it favours a value-added forestry economy, raw log exports produce jobs. One estimate suggested that every 1,000 cubic metres of logs exported creates a job for a logger, truck driver or longshore worker.