Expect some pushback this spring by forest industry leaders on the province's controversial Species at Risk policy.
Jamie Lim, president-CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA), expects to see sound forestry policy heading into 2018, not changes influenced by the "fearmongering" and "misinformation" campaign being spread by "anti-forestry groups."
OFIA is part of a coalition, recently dubbed the Alliance, comprised of industry, municipalities, First Nation communities, business and labour groups who are rallying against, what they view as, an attack on the forestry industry through a coordinated campaign in the Toronto media.
Lim said groups opposed to forestry are branding the industry as being unsustainable by bashing the province for not doing enough to protect the habitat of the woodland caribou, currently listed as "threatened" in Ontario.
The caribou has been the poster child of this push with highprofile activists like David Suzuki, New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, and even Vermont ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's weighing in on Ontario forestry policy, she said.
Lim said it's a familiar fundraising tactic chosen by some environmental groups, alluding to a 2007 Ivey Foundation report, The Making of Ontario's New Endangered Species Act.
The document emphasized that conservation groups must protect and advance the legislative gains that have been made by selecting "key species with strong public appeal."
Moving forward with "bad policy" influenced by environmental groups endangers well-paying, middle-class forestry jobs in Northern Ontario, the backbone of many local economies, she said.
"You lose a mill in Atikokan, who replaces those jobs?"
Lim would rather see policy crafted from science and with the input of those who work on the ground.
"We are the people that pay the price for poorly thought-out public policy."
It spurred OFIA to organize a lobby day in late November giving mayors, foresters, First Nation leaders, chambers of commerce and forestry unions some face time with former Natural Resources Minister Kathryn McGarry and Opposition party critics.
"We can't have governments making provincial policy based on fundraising campaigns or advice from Ben & Jerry's," said Lim.
The message emphasized was that less than half of one per cent of Ontario's forests is harvested, yet it provides direct jobs for 57,000.
"These anti-forestry groups still want to shut us down and they want people to think that's...