Kelowna MLA under fire for log export decision

Steve Thomson, who is also B.C. forest minister, overruled a government advisory committee to allow raw logs to be exported.

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson, who is also B.C.’s forests minister, is under fire for a recent decision he made 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.

“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 did explain Tuesday, in Victoria, saying the logs were approved for export because of the costs 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 inthe 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 blasted 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 exports policies in B.C. are currently under review.