BC Politics with Hubert Beyer

Archives of British Columbia's most well read Political Columnist

 

 

 

Hubert Beyer, Biography

Hubert Beyer was widely known as one of Canada's most read journalists. His columns were published regularly in most BC Community Newspapers, and his perspective sought on the Federal level as well as by NORAD in the US, Beyer lived up to his reputation as the "Fairest of them All."

Born in a small village in West Germany, Beyer immigrated to Canada in his 20s where he married and had 4 children.

A German Language publication in Winnipeg was Beyer's first foray into writing in Canada, it was soon followed with work at the Winnipeg Free Press as a Reporter covering many different beats. more

Top Search: Forestry

Find out what Beyer had to say about Forestry in BC through the years. With the forestry industry supporting a large segment of employment and opportunity in British Columbia, it's no surprise that it's a top search.

Top Search: Elections

Election are always a hot topicAnytime the faintest hint of a provincial or federal election announcement draws near, the search for quotes and history on past British Columbia elections starts to climb.

Top Search: Budget Release

When is the Budget not a hot searchProvincial Bugets are introduced with fanfare and fraught with talk from pundits, experts and critics. Take a few minutes to see how BC Budgets of the past were often projections of the future. 

INDUSTRY AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS MUST COME TO TERMS

VICTORIA -- Sometimes it seems there's two kinds of British Columbians, those who want to save our forests and those who want to destroy them. That at least is the impression the casual observer gets from reading the newspapers and watching TV.

The defenders of our forests talk a lot about the birthright of future generations, of heritage and spirituality, all the while portraying the industry as exploiters without conscience, preoccupied only with the maximization of profit.

The industry has traditionally responded by ridiculing the environmentalists as militant dreamers who would sacrifice the province's economic viability to their weird ecological creed.

Needless to say that the silent majority of reasonable and rational people got confused by all this extremist rhetoric. History has proven again and again, however, that the rational view will eventually prevail. It just takes time for the irrational combatants run out of steam. That moment has arrived in the battle between the forest industry and the environmentalists.

The turning point came with the introduction last fall of the new Forest Act. It set the stage for bringing in line both an industry which had been used to having things its way, and an opposition which often placed emotionalism before reason.

The two most important changes in the government's forestry policy are a substantial increase in stumpage fees and shift of responsibility for reforestation from government to the private sector.

The stumpage fee is what companies pay the government for the privilege of harvesting timber. In the past, this fee has been solow that the Americans mounted a dangerous case against Canada for unfairly subsidizing the forest industry.

That problem culminated in the imposition by Canada of a 15 percent tax on itself for all softwood lumber exports to the U.S. Failure to do so would in all likelihood have resulted in a punitive import tax by the U.S., the revenue from which would have flowed into U.S. coffers.

In the case of British Columbia, this self-imposed tax was lifted December 1, 1987, after the Americans were satisfied that our new stumpage fees no longer constituted an unfair subsidy.

Based on 1986 industry sales of $9.3 billion, the new fees will put an additional $100 million a year into the provincial treasury. That will bring total provincial income from the forest industry to an estimated $680 million a year.

Equally, if not more important is the government's decision to saddle the industry with the financial responsibility for its operations. That includes not only the replanting of trees it cuts down, but responsibility for ongoing silviculture and the cost of constructing timber-harvesting roads and bridges.

But what if the government's bark turns out to be worse than its bite? That would be a damned shame, not only for us, but also for the government. The public is beginning to understand the intricacies of forest management. Any government trying to hoodwink the public would do so at its own risk.

Anyway, indications are that the Socreds have every intention of making the new policies stick.

A recent discussion paper on silviculture regulations, published by the forest ministry, makes it clear that the government will demand strict compliance with its silviculture policies from the industry. The paper not only sets out proposed regulations but promises stiff penalties for non-compliance.

Regular audits are to ensure that the industry won't try to play a fast one on the government. That means there's hope that the backlog of 1.6 million hectares of insufficiently restocked forest land will be reduced and eventually eliminated.

It won't come as a surprise to all those rational and previously confused people in the middle that neither the industry nor the environmentalists are jumping with joy over the new policies.

Industry spokesmen express fears that the fees may be too high and that the costs of replanting and silviculture could make the industry more vulnerable to the volatility of the lumber market. Environmentalists say the policies do nothing to protect the survival of our forests for the benefit of future generations.

But the battle between the extremists is already shifting away from the general debate over forest management to more specific and environmentally sensitive areas such as the proposed logging of part of the Stein River Valley.

In the end, the two sides will just have to learn to live with each other and with the compromise imposed by the government.

And learn they will.

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