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| ||09 05 08
|Campbell promises action for ranchers in Cariboo |
BY JONATHAN FOWLIE, CANWEST NEWS SERVICEMAY 7, 2009
QUESNEL -- Premier Gordon Campbell rode through the Cariboo Thursday, hoping some pointed barbs and new promises would carry two swing ridings his party lost in 2005, each by fewer than 300 votes.
In his second trip of the campaign into the Cariboo, Campbell unveiled a new promise to build more fencing along rural highways and railroads.
?We're going to launch a program to provide fencing along highways, along rail lines, so our ranchers can protect their investments,? Campbell said at a rally in Cariboo North, where Liberal candidate Bruce Ernst is trying to unseat New Democratic Party forestry critic Bob Simpson.
Campbell said the new program will build on a three-year, $9 million program that built close to 600 kilometers of fencing.
That program expired in 2007, and a Liberal news release issued Thursday said there is an estimated 700 kilometers of additional area that has been identified for new fencing.
?We're going to take steps to make sure that the ranchers are not just a critical part today, but tomorrow and tomorrow and the tomorrow after that,? said Campbell.
Campbell also promised a Ranching Task Force, that he said would seek to eliminate unnecessary regulations that he said cost ranchers both time and money.
In 2005, the New Democratic Party won the two ridings now known as Cariboo North and Cariboo-Chilcotin, taking each by fewer than 300 votes.
Simpson took one riding, and Charlie Wyse took the other.
On Thursday, Campbell dropped into Quesnel for a rally in Cariboo North with Ernst, and then touched down in 108 Mile House for an airport rally in Cariboo-Chilcotin, where Liberal Donna Barnett is running against Wyse.
?I was here the first week and I thought it was a good idea to come back in the last week,? Campbell told a cheering crowd in Quesnel.
While Campbell touted his announcement for ranchers at both Cariboo stops, he also coined a new attack line, dubbing the NDP platform a ?job decimation strategy.?
Campbell also attacked comments made by Simpson, who is not only the NDP's candidate in Cariboo North, but also the party's forestry critic.
?Bob Simpson -- talking to a major trade journal -- he says that the American lumber lobby should be suing our companies for $500 million,? Campbell said.
?I can't even find the word to describe how irresponsible that activity is,? he added, speaking to reporters later in the morning during a photo op in a Quesnel lumber yard.
?[The comments] are staggering in how irresponsible they are and the jobs they put at risk.?
Campbell was citing an article in Madison's Canadian Lumber Reporter, which said Simpson: ?estimated that punitive damages in the amount of $500 million could be claimed by the Coalition [for Fair Lumber Imports] against BC lumber companies.?
In an interview, Simpson strongly refuted the claim that he was inviting lawsuits, saying that is absolutely untrue.
Simpson said the coalition has a growing list of complaints against B.C. companies for violations of the Softwood Lumber Agreement, adding he was only pointing out issues that have already been raised.
?All of the things I talked about are not unsubstantiated claims, nor are they invitations,? he said.
?It simply was a reiteration of where the coalition believes B.C. is going with its stumpage system,? he added.
Simpson returned the attack, saying Campbell is only making the comments because he is worried about losing the ridings in the Cariboo.
Campbell will travel to the Okanagan today, attending events in both Kelowna and Penticton.
| ||09 05 08
|NDP candidate 'convicts' forestry of stumpage abuses|
BY GORDON HAMILTON , CANWEST NEWS SERVICEMAY 7, 2009
NDP forests critic Bob Simpson was accused by a former lumber leader Wednesday of putting the sawmilling industry at risk with the Americans in order to score political points.
Jake Kerr said Simpson convicted the industry in the eyes of the Americans when he said in an article published in the Canadian trade journal Madison's Lumber Reporter that it is abusing the stumpage system.
In the May 1 article, Simpson is quoted saying the U.S. could claim $500 million in damages.
?Over the past two years the B.C. government has allowed companies to abuse the 25-cent stumpage (intended for beetle-killed pine trees),? he is quoted saying.
Further, he said, a common practice of kiln-drying logs to reveal cracks, is ?forcing a lower grade for stumpage.?
Kerr accused Simpson of handing ammunition to the Americans.
?I don't know if it's politics or he just doesn't understand. Either way it's very scary. He could be the minister of forests and he's already told the U.S. coalition that we have been doing illegal things,? said Kerr, former owner of a Williams Lake sawmill.
He was on the front line in previous softwood battles. ?We have gone to great pains to point out that 25 cent (stumpage) on beetle-killed timber is just a fact of life because the wood's all dead. We have explained technically all about why they warm up logs (in kilns) in the winter because they have cracks in them.
?He's not only convicted the industry but he's decided we should pay half a billion dollars.?
Simpson, candidate in Cariboo-North, defended his claims Wednesday, saying he believes kiln-drying logs is not defensible.
He also noted stumpage revenues have dropped 60 per cent in his own region while the harvest has gone up 20 per cent.
Dead beetle wood accounts for the increase, but the green timber harvest has not dropped, he said.
?It begs the question: Why has stumpage dropped so dramatically.?
Kerr's attack on Simpson comes one day after three industry chief executive officers sided with the Liberals, blasting NDP forest policies.
But the Liberals have also been handing the Americans ammunition in the growing irritation south of the border over enforcement of the Softwood Lumber Agreement here. On Friday, Forests Minister Pat Bell said stumpage rates have been reduced around Mackenzie, a key cost reduction in Canfor Corp.'s announcement that it is re-starting its Mackenzie lumber mill.
The American lumber lobby said Wednesday it's not buying Bell's claim that B.C. did not violate the agreement. Bell said the reduction is the result of a correction to ?anomalies? in the B.C. stumpage system that did not take into account the smaller diameter of the Mackenzie wood. It is less valuable than previously considered, he said.
The lobby group Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports called it a ?flagrant violation? of the agreement. ?On the face of it, a concession was made to Canfor in the form of lower stumpage,? coalition executive director Zoltan van Heyningen said in an interview. ?And how they got there is controlled by the provincial government.?
The coalition is linking the Mackenzie stumpage changes to the rate changes raised by Simpson. The U.S. administration is already investigating those allegations and has sent officials to B.C. to examine records.
| ||09 05 08
||Globe and Mail|
|Ranchers give James warm reception|
May 6, 2009 at 12:08 PM EDT
WILLIAMS LAKE ? While Carole James, the New Democratic Party leader, was sitting up on Pal's back, she looked like she might promise the Cariboo Cattlemen's Association just about anything.
Ms. James was visiting Rosewood Ranch, a backdrop to a day of agricultural policy promises.
Duncan Barnett, the ranch owner and head of the local cattlemen's association, cajoled Ms. James onto the quarter horse's back. While the NDP's Cariboo North candidate, Bob Simpson, charged around the field on his mount, Ms. James stayed put and talked policy. ?I deserve marks for this,? she said as she was helped into the saddle.
Ms. James's discomfort aside, she got a warm reception from ranchers like Mr. Barnett, who aren't happy about the Liberals' carbon tax. He estimated the tax added $1,000 to the cost of feeding his herd of 400 cows last winter. ?It's not revenue-neutral to my operation,? he said.
Ms. James has said she would scrap the carbon tax, but also told ranchers an NDP government wouldn't get in their way.
It was a similar message she delivered earlier in the day at a farm near Quesnel.
At the Koster Farm, last fall's garlic crop is coming along nicely, the peas have just been started. Dave Koster will sell everything he grows - including 20 varieties of potatoes - at the farm gate or at the local farmers' market. Never mind the 100-Mile Diet, this stuff doesn't make it that far.
Ms. James brought her campaign bus to the postcard-pretty farm, and she didn't need to promise much to win over the support of the local farmers who gathered in the sunshine in Mr. Koster's backyard to hear her speak.
?Nothing you're looking at here had help from government. We just want a little freedom,? Mr. Koster told reporters as he pointed to his fields, nestled in a small valley adjacent to the Fraser River. ?Some people say it's Super Natural British Columbia, I say it's Super Regulated British Columbia.?
Mr. Koster is not impressed with the Liberal government's increased regulation for meat inspections, which ended his foray into the beef trade. ?I wasn't going to tangle with the regulators.?
Ms. James picked up the cue in her address. ?You don't expect government to solve everything for you,? she told the crowd, many nodding their Stetson hats in agreement. ?But you don't expect it to make it more difficult.?
Mr. Koster proudly showed Ms. James around his farm, which he cleared himself, in the valley below his green-roofed home. ?You should try the All Reds,? he enthused about his favourite spud. It'll win over even people who don't like potatoes, he promised.
Ms. James promised the group that an NDP government would revive a ?Buy BC? agriculture program and reminded the farmers that the Liberal carbon tax was making their produce more expensive than their competitors south of the border. ?That makes no sense,? she said. ?You can't support the 100-Mile Diet and not support farmers.?
| ||09 05 06
|I believe this is going to be a very tight race! It can go either way. I agree with k4 with whomever brings gets out the vote will win. I've been hearing that bob is all over the map with his forestry promises and he has had the major employer in the riding come out against him and his party. When you have small and big businesses coming out against you...that should send out a every strong message. However, it all comes down to getting out the vote in swing ridings..This will be an exciting one to watch.|
| ||09 04 30
|The Cariboo ridings have a recent tradition of voting against the sitting government. It's a stretch to say that very much has changed since 2005, although some of the issues have taken a backseat in recent months. The races in both Cariboo ridings will be close again. It's who can best get the vote out and in that sense, the NDP has a good track record. Bob Simpson has been an effective debater in the house, although I do not know his constiuency reputation as well. I do not think the Liberals will take both Cariboo ridings back, but maybe one. And it probably won't be this one.|
| ||09 03 09
|This is going to be a close call but I believe it will go BCLiberal. Last election a lot of right of centre voters stayed home due to the choice of candidate, and still Simpson only managed to squeak out a victory.|
Simpson has been quite outspoken and active which will give him some points in the polls, but he hasn't really endeared himself to the forestry sector as forest critic, and that will hurt. Forest company leaders have come out against the NDP plans to scrap the softwood, and having that large sector against him, will hurt Simpson. There aren't that many BCGEU and BCTF people in the area to pick up the support.
This time the BCLiberals are running Bruce Ernst a well-liked member of the Cattlemen's Association, a far cry from the previous candidate. Bruce may not be as ?in your face? as Simpson, but his softspokenness makes him someone that people will listen too, as he chooses his words carefully and with thought. He's not out for the soundbite. He connects with the people of the North for just those reasons. No knee jerk reactions, but instead quiet contemplation and well reasoned action.
If Bruce's Team can make sure the BCLiberal vote goes to the polls this time, he can pull this one off. But the key is if the BCLiberal vote shows up.
| ||09 01 19
|NDP hold as MLA Bob Simpson has been a top performer for the BC NDP. That being said, the Cariboo ridings are always fun to watch on election night.|