NDP leader Adrian Dix plans to take “immediate steps” as premier to make sure B.C. resources are manufactured in B.C., particularly logs harvested from Crown land.
Dix made the pledge in a conference call with reporters from outside the Lower Mainland Wednesday, part of a bid to win support outside the urban regions after securing the party leadership on the weekend.
A succession of forest ministers have defended the B.C. Liberal government’s decision to relieve forest companies of the requirement to mill their logs locally, arguing that log exports from Crown land remain restricted, except in areas of the northwest where there are no sawmills to protect.
In 2006, the forests ministry recorded 320,000 cubic metres of whole log exports for the northwest, rising to 378,000 cubic metres in 2007. The number fell to 241,000 cubic metres in 2008, but rose again in 2009 to 369,000 cubic metres. Last year was the highest number yet – 534,000 cubic metres.
One of the major beneficiaries of those exports is the Coast Tsimshian Resources Limited Partnership, which opened a trade office in China in 2009 and has also shipped substantial volumes to Japan and Korea from port facilities in Prince Rupert.
Dix said he expects B.C. wood prices to rise as the U.S. economy recovers, and B.C.’s annual timber harvest declines due to the pine beetle epidemic.
“The issue will be if we have a government in place that will take steps to protect jobs and protect communities in what will be a difficult time, and ensure that the investment that ought to flow from the increased value of our resource flows to British Columbia as opposed to Washington or Oregon or overseas,” he said.
Dix also repeated pledges from his leadership campaign to increase the income tax rate on large businesses to 2008 levels. That rate applies to corporate earnings above $500,000 a year, and it was lowered to 10 per cent on Jan. 1.
Dix wants to raise it back to 11 per cent. That would leave in place most of the rate cuts implemented by the B.C. Liberal government since 2001, when they inherited a rate of 16.5 per cent.
Dix has not proposed any change to the corporate tax rate for earnings under $500,000, which was lowered by the previous NDP government to below five per cent. It reached 2.5 per cent in 2008 and is on its way to being eliminated.