Potential Liberal Caucus has Strong Forestry Background

A rating of the potential BC Liberal caucus…

Given the latest polls it might not be premature to speculate on how qualified the potential Liberal Caucus might be when it comes to forestry issues. Vancouver Sun forestry columnist Ken Druska rated them recently. He’s optimistic.

Here’s a summary of the Liberal candidates with a forestry background excerpted from Druska’s 8 May column.

The most encouraging signs of what might lie in store for the forest sector under the Campbell government are the large number of Liberal candidates with direct experience in forestry. There are at least a dozen of them, and if all or most of them are elected it is unlikely the new premier, if he is so inclined, will be able to dominate the shaping of forest policy to the degree his predecessors have.

First among this group is the Liberal’s forestry critic, George Abbott (Shuswap), a berry farmer and college teacher with a degree in political science. He has worked diligently at informing himself about the intricacies and nuances of forest policy. While he may not make it as forest minister, his knowledge is formidable.

Equally formidable, in his own way, is Graham Bruce (Cowichan-Ladysmith), a former mayor of North Cowichan who set up that district¹s community forest in the 1980s. As a Socred MLA in the Vander Zalm government he articulated some strong and intelligent ideas on forestry.

Another knowledgeable candidate from that period is Claude Richmond (Kamloops) who was Minister of Forests for three years. While he did not make any great mark in that position, neither did he make any great blunders. He knows where the pitfalls lie and where the skeletons are buried.

Walter Cobb (Cariboo South) was a long-time mayor and councillor at Williams Lake who sat on the CORE regional table which developed the current land-use plan for the region. A retail merchant, he served as executive director of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Wood Products Association and is on the board of the region’s Share the Resources group.

Joyce Murray (New Westminster) will bring a powerful new voice for forestry. She is a co-founder of Brinkman and Associates Reforestation, the largest silvicultural contractor in Canada, and has worked in the industry for more than 25 years. She also obtained an MBA at Simon Fraser University in 1992 where she wrote a thesis on forestry and global warming that is still closely read.

Roger Harris (Skeena) is a former MacMillan Bloedel employee from the Queen Charlotte Islands who now operates small businesses in Kitimat and Terrace. He was also a member of the IWA-Canada executive board and later set up his own contract falling company.

Two more mayors with extensive forest-sector experience are also running. Randy Hawes (Maple Ridge -Mission) is from a community that has successfully owned and operated a Tree Farm Licence for the past 50 years. Gillian Trumper (Alberni-Qualicim), mayor of Port Alberni and former chair of the Union of BC Municipalities, has been embroiled in land-use debates on Vancouver Island for more than a decade. She served as a member of the Clayoquot Sound Task Force which helped resolve the most contentious woods battle this province has experienced.

Along with these veterans, there are several candidates with some kind of forestry experience in their past. Paul Nettleton (Prince George-Omineca) worked as a logger and in mills before obtaining a law degree. Barry Penner (Chilliwack-Kent) is a former sawmill worker and park ranger. Rod Sanderson Visser (North Island) spent his summers logging while at university. Ralph Sultan (West Vancouver-Capilano) worked as a faller and, after obtaining a PhD in economics from Harvard, worked in senior management for various forest companies.