John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats

Vancouver: Christy Clark has let down forest workers and communities as U.S. softwood lumber penalties loom, and B.C. New Democrat leader John Horgan says forest workers need a government that will defend their jobs and communities.

“Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals have overseen the loss of 30,000 forest jobs. Forest workers, their families, and their communities have been neglected for too long, and I want them to know I’ll have their back,” Horgan said.

“The last softwood lumber agreement didn’t work for the tens of thousands of people who lost their jobs with the closure of about 100 local mills. International courts have ruled that our timber is not subsidized, yet American corporations keep pushing for higher duties that kill B.C. jobs.

“It’s unfair, and it has to stop. B.C. forest communities can’t afford a softwood deal at any cost, and Christy Clark too easily caves to corporate interests.

“We need to fight for the right deal to defend and grow forest jobs and the communities that depend on those jobs. We need to play hard ball.”

Horgan said B.C. workers and their families have paid a terrible price since the last softwood deal.

“We’ve got to get tougher and smarter to take on the big corporations and make sure B.C. workers and communities come first when it comes to our forest resource.

“American and B.C. workers can be together on this. Jobs in housing construction and infrastructure are going to fuel the U.S. economy and they can’t do that without our lumber. B.C. needs to take that leverage to Washington and talk directly to U.S. decision-makers,” Horgan said.

“Where has Christy Clark been? Not working for forest workers and their communities, that’s for sure. We’ve got to flex bigger muscles in this fight for B.C. jobs. The U.S. needs our energy and our resources. We need fair and open access to the U.S. market.

“Christy Clark has been too busy flogging her LNG failure to be bothered with mounting a strong fight to defend our forest jobs. Christy Clark’s Liberals have given up on our forest jobs and that’s just wrong. These are good jobs for future generations, not jobs of the past.”

Horgan said B.C. can’t let any softwood deal punish Canadian lumber and wood products so they can’t compete in the U.S. market, or discourage coastal communities from milling logs here in B.C. rather than shipping them overseas.

Horgan said B.C. needs to fight for a new softwood deal that that works for B.C. workers, their families and their communities.

“Our forests are a quarter-trillion dollar asset owned by the people of British Columbia. Our forests should benefit people, not just corporations.

“The forest companies can move to the U.S. to keep making their profits, but workers can’t. Getting more jobs from our forest resources is a big part of my plan to put more people to work in lasting jobs across B.C.,” Horgan said.