Premier Christy Clark wants you to know she’s not a tree-hugger.
When she spoke at the Council of Forest Industries conference held last week at the Delta Grand, Clark told the crowd she regularly delights in telling young people touring the legislature that logging simply a necessity in B.C.
Clark makes the point by first asking visitors what they would do if they were premier, and how those things would be paid for.
“Of course the answer to that is we’re going to get that money for your mum and dad,” she said.
Then she asks, “What if your mum and dad have less money because the government takes more money from them to put into our tax system? What will they have less money for?”
“Kids all know the answer to that,” she said.
There would be less money for hockey equipment and less money for school and less money for trips and all the good things in life.
“But there’s always one child, no matter where I’m talking to them from across the province… when I ask them what they’d like to do if they could be premier, their wish would be we could stop cutting down trees,” she said.
There was an audible groan among the foresters gathered.
“I’m glad they say it, because it gives us a chance for education,” said Clark.
“I say if we don’t cut down trees in B.C. we have to take more money from your mum and dad and if your mum and dad work in forestry, your mum and dad will have to start taking money from the government…We need kids to understand that the forest industry is not just something that exists in a vacuum. It supports our entire province.”
Forestry, she said, has put B.C. on the map as one of the most economically and environmentally sustainable spots on the globe.
And without it, B.C. would be in trouble.
There are 140 communities in B.C. that depend on it and 150,000 jobs in direct and indirect contact with the industry.
“These are jobs for people who know they can go home every day and put food on the table for their kids,” said Clark.
For that reason, Clark said her government will invest more money to promote the use of B.C. wood.
There will be $8 million made available to promote the use of B.C. wood, help advance wood building and to expand global markets for B.C. wood products.
“Some of that is going to Canada Wood Group to continue expanding the use of wood in China, Korea and Japan,” she said.
“Some of that will go to COFI to support them in the same markets and, as you probably know, we are investing $5 million in opening door for our wood products in a brand new market, in India.”
If anyone questioned the move, Clark encouraged them to pan back in their memories to when China was first explored as a trade partner, and the positive results that’s yielded.
In India alone, a million new people are joining the workforce every month for the next 15 years.
“You know what happens when people join the work force? They want to build a house. Lets make sure they want to build that house with wood,” she said.