The Canadian Institute of Forestry conference is underway in Kenora.

Acting Natural Resources Minister and Conservative candidate Greg Rickford covered an array of topics in his opening address.

Rickford’s big message was defending the country’s sustainability practices from smear campaigns.

He says we have to do a better job promoting the industry and its sustainability practices.

Rickford also echoed the conference’s theme of “sharing the forest” by highlighting work between government, municipalities, and First Nations.

He stresses the forest sector contributes close to $21-billion towards the GDP and directly employs more than 250,000 Canadians, including some 47,000 in Ontario.

Rickford also highlighted targeted approaches by government to lower energy costs and reduce the environmental footprint of industry operations.