Forestry just as important as GM


by admin on June 10, 2009

By Cindy Duncan-McMillan

 Having first hand knowledge of the perils and heartache of operating a business while our agricultural industry is in crisis, I decided to support the foresters and paperworkers this week in their attempt to convince the Prime Minister to intervene.
After arriving at the Minister of Natural Resources’ office on Booth St in Ottawa, we waited while bus loads of worried mill workers and foresters unloaded.  Many had traveled all night in order to join the protest.  The Gaspé, Baie Comeau, Monterégie, Lanaudière, Outaouais and the Montreal region were some of the areas the huge Quebec contingent represented.
We walked with two lads from Thunder Bay who had never been to Ottawa before but felt compelled to participate and wanted to believe they could make a difference. There were men and women from Espanola, Kirkland Lake and other Ontario towns desperate to convince Mr. Harper his help is justified and urgently required.
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia all had representatives there.  Workers wore home made signs asking for jobs not welfare. Union placards were handed out, provincial flags were flying and we stood and listened as the litany of mills all across Canada that have been forced to shut down was called out.
 Leaders of the paperworkers’ union relayed tales of workers abandoning their now worthless homes as they move on desperate to find somewhere to work.
We marched up Carling to Bronson.  I looked back at the top of the hill and could only see more placards and people flowing out of Booth St.  We walked, mostly silently, towards Major Hill Park where there were more speeches and bells clanging out over loud speakers.  The message was simple and repeated continually, “Wake up Harper. Réveille!”
 David Cole, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, relayed how Mr. Harper said how forestry was a “sunset” industry and workers should be moving to Fort McMurray.  Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources, cancelled her confirmed appointment to meet with the representatives.
Fatigue and discouragement permeated the crowd.  Placards were duly returned and the crowd stood bewildered as to what to do next, worried their attempt to convince the Prime Minister to “wake up” and provide intervention to save Canada’s forestry industry had failed.
Considering the billions of our tax dollars Mr. Harper has gambled in an attempt to keep General Motors alive, could his government not also intervene to save one of Canada’s oldest industries?  
Our foresters are not demanding welfare, they’re pleading to have the Canadian government provide loan guarantees to keep viable mills operating and invest in the management of forests.  
Canada needs a federal government as interested in saving jobs throughout rural Canada as in the auto industry constituencies.  
Canadians care about the survival of our forests. We want to invest in the development of renewable energy sources.
 Please, help your fellow rural citizens.  Lend your voice to their cause.  
Cindy Duncan McMillan was the Liberal candidate in the 2008 election and lives in Farrellton, Quebec.