Forest Minister Thomson blasted for log decision

B.C. Forest Minister Steve Thomson is under fire for a recent decision about the export of raw logs to an overseas mill.

B.C. Forest Minister Steve Thomson is under fire for a recent decision he made as about the export of raw logs out of the province to an overseas mill.

The NDP Opposition is blasting Thomson for overruling a government advisory committee that said the logs did not meet the basic requirement for export and should have been sold to an independent manufacturer in Surrey instead.

“The minister’s decision means that logs that would have otherwise created jobs in B.C. were instead exported,” said NDP leader Adrian Dix. “The minister needs to explain why he made that unprecedented decision.”

Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission, did explain March 13 in Victoria, saying the logs were approved for export because of the cost associated with shipping them from Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland. He said that calculation was not factored into the advisory committee’s recommendation.

But the explanation was not good enough for the NDP.

Its forests critic, Norm McDonald, accused Thomson of making the advisory committee “irrelevant”  and declaring “open season” on raw log exports out of B.C., despite a long-standing rule in the province that says raw logs should only be exported if they are surplus to provincial needs.

Recent statistics show B.C. exported a record 5.5 million cubic metres of raw logs last year, more than double the amount exported in 2010.

The NDP has criticized the Liberal government for the level of raw log exports, saying it is costing the province jobs.

Meanwhile, Thomson told reporters in Victoria that log export policies in B.C. are currently under review.