ON, QC mayors sign historic forest alliance agreement
March 2, 2017 - A group of mayors from northern Ontario and Quebec has signed a historic Boreal Forest Alliance Agreement to unify lobbying efforts in support of forestry activities.
The group signed the agreement at the Ontario Forest Industries Association annual meeting in Toronto yesterday. Peter Politis, mayor of Cochrane, and Roger Sigouin, mayor of Hearst, signed the agreement on behalf of 13 municipalities in northeastern Ontario.
“This is probably one of the first times we’ve recognized a commonality between the provinces. It’s an issue where borders don’t exist,” Politis said in an interview.
The alliance will use lobbying strategies to draw attention to the importance of forest industries in rural communities, and to provide information to correct “extremists” who seek to tarnish Canada’s world-class sustainable forest management practices, Politis said.
“It’s law in this country to harvest sustainably; you can’t harvest anything unless you do so sustainably,” he said. “Less than one per cent of the forest in Ontario is actually harvested every year, and only 40 per cent is even eligible.
“Environmental groups have done a very good job in promoting their view, and they are entitled to their view. What we are trying to do is make sure the information that is out there is not misinformation. We want to correct that information. That will be the mandate for this group,” Politis said.
The agreement was an MOU that creates a general outline for the alliance, but the next step is to finalize the bylaws that will detail how the alliance will operate.
Northern Canadians, regardless of the province or territory, have similar ways of life and the alliance seeks to protect that way of life, Politis said. Ideally the alliance would spread across all provinces and territories and involve all northern municipalities and Indigenous communities, he said.
“As the families and the people who are actually a part of that way of life, we are coming together to speak to the issues and make sure that the right understanding is out there, so when policy is made and direction is taken, it is informed policy and informed direction,” Politis said.
The alliance will soon begin issuing press releases, and hopes to start fundraising to extend the reach of their message.