How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?

How much wood can a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as he could if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Say that three times.

Or maybe nine times.

I don’t have much to say about the Lord government’s decision to, yet again, study the issue of forestry management.

The basic issue is actually pretty simple. The forestry industry says that it needs a long term supply guarantee in order to make the necessary investments in technology to make the industrial production of the wood profitable. The environmentalists and other stakeholders suggest that we cannot provide the volume and long term supply guarantees that the industry wants.

Simple, right? Either we accept the status quo and the inevitable downsizing of the industry over time or we pursue a more aggressive harvesting and planting model and sustain the industry at its current levels of economic activity and employment.

Putting off the decision yet another two years won’t solve anything (except perhaps alignment with the Premier’s federal ambitions – good luck Brad Green cleaning up the mess).

The real issue, and the subject (coincidentially) of this blog, is that in their current form the forestry, fishing and mining sectors are not generating enough economic activity to generate the tax base to pay for government services in the province. That’s an undisputed fact.

If we are going to allow the forestry industry to shrink even more in relative importance to the economy, we must replace this economic activity with something else (and a lot more to get us up to a level where we are generating the taxes needed to provide our social infrastructure).

Where are these jobs and new industries coming from?

There have been only two attempts in my lifetime to seriously build new industries in New Brunswick. One was Premier Hatfield’s attempt to carve off a bit of the phenomenally successful auto industry in southern Ontario by supporting the Bricklin project. The other was Premier McKenna’s attempt to make New Brunswick into the back office for North America in the mid 1990s when he attracted dozens of global companies such as UPS, FedEx, Imperial Oil, IBM, etc.

Somebody, somewhere, had better start taking this issue seriously or the Conservation Council of New Brunswick’s David Coon is going to get his ultimate wish and turn this whole province into a permanent nature preserve.

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