On the importance of dissenting views
In my day job, one of the services I offer is economic impact assessments for companies, industries and economic development organizations. One of my clients is JD, Irving as well as the forestry industry more broadly as I am asked to crunch their economic impact numbers from time to time. This is why I either refrain from weighing in on issues related to that firm or I state my conflict of interest when I do. I have to sell the soap to put food on the table. This blog pays something in the area of zero. So read this post with that caveat in mind.
I believe it is important to hear from all sides of any big policy argument whether it is on forestry policy, natural gas development policy or wind turbine policy.
There have been a number of stories quite critical of the decision by government to moderately expand the allowable cut on Crown land and I think that is good. I know from talking to a number of people in government, the concerns of those opposed to increasing the allowable cut has been the main reason why the policy has been in flux for years. The government has commissioned study after study from Jaakko Poyry to Erdle to Roberts and not moved on any of them. The big forest product firms were not going to invest in future big capital expenditures without long term predictability and access to wood (their argument) and government eventually had to decide formally one way or the other.
So, those that decry opposition to the move are well within their rights to do so but they should tread carefully when they are crapping on the media about their willingness to tell both sides of the story.
The big forestry firms in New Brunswick are small fish in the global market but in New Brunswick they are big fish and the public should be told these stories from a wide angle.
Now, I dislike mean-spirited and conspiratorial coverage – when there is limited justification. I also dislike when the media distorts the debate in either direction but in the end I think it would be wrong not to cover – pre-decision and post-decision – the various view points on a big policy issue such as expanding access to Crown land fibre.