David Coon demands details of Irving forest deal be made public
Green Party leader says contract between J.D. Irving Ltd. is unprecedented
CBC News :: Mar 19, 2014
The leader of the Green Party in New Brunswick is calling for the public release of the contract the Alward government signed with J.D. Irving Ltd. to guarantee wood supply from Crown land.
The forestry company holds a licence that authorizes it to cut timber on Queen-Charlotte-Fundy block of Crown land.
Jim Irving, the co-chief executive of J.D. Irving Ltd., and Green Party Leader David Coon discuss the province's new forestry strategy following last week's announcement. (Alan White/CBC)
Coon says under the Crown Lands and Forests Act, Irving is already authorized to cut Crown timber for 25 years and is required to describe its plant investments and employment levels for a 10-year period.
One week ago, the Alward government announced it would allow a 21 per cent increase in the amount of softwood that can be cut on Crown land.
J.D. Irving Ltd. will receive 60 per cent of the increased allocation of 660,000 cubic metres of softwood, the legislature was told last week.
"New Brunswickers and First Nations have a right to know what David Alward has signed away to the Irvings," said Coon.
"I am concerned that this contract obligates New Brunswickers to compensate J.D. Irving if public efforts to rebuild local forest economies, establish community forests, resolve aboriginal title, or increase conservation measures in the future diminishes the amount of wood the government has agreed to provide the company over the long term," said Coon.
"I worry this contract handcuffs the hands of future government to the policies of the Alward government," he said.
Coon maintains the contract signed with J.D. Irving Ltd. is unprecedented and has no legal basis under the Crown Lands and Forest Act.
"First Nations and all New Brunswickers have a right to see what obligation the Alward government has imposed on us with this contract," said Coon.
Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud said Wednesday at the legislature that the agreements between the government and forest companies will be announced publicly after an initial round of announcements by industry.
Robichaud said financial information on the companies may be redacted, but details on the allocation of wood will be made public.
"As soon as we finish our round of announcements and as soon as we finish signing contracts with different companies, our intention was not only to make public the information related to Mr. Irving's company but all the companies that will sign contracts with the province of New Brunswick," said Robichaud.
Twin Rivers Paper Company is scheduled to make an announcement at the Tobique-Plex in Plaster Rock on March 27.
The announcement had been scheduled for Thursday, but was postponed due to the weather forecast.
Twin Rivers operates a lumber sawmill in Plaster Rock. It also operates a pulp mill in Edmundston, which feeds the company's paper mill across the St. John River in Madawaska, Me.