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October 28, 2017 3:35 am

Harper government and the missing $800 million pledged to BC Interior communities

Friday, July 3, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

By Peter Ewart

In the lead up to the 2006 federal election, the pledge to the communities of the BC Interior was unmistakable. “Conservative leader Stephen Harper announced earlier this week a long-term commitment of $1 billion to battle the pine beetle devastation”, the news stories read. But Harper also had a warning. The funds would be forthcoming only “if his party were to win the next federal election” (1).

Harper, who was then in Opposition, scoffed at the federal Liberal government’s funding contribution of just $140 million to address the pine beetle problem, dismissing it as “paltry.” He further said that “B.C.s forestry communities need help and so far they haven’t received the assistance you would expect from a federal government.”

The Harper Conservatives then went on to win the 2006 election. After the election, BC Interior communities were assured by Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Dick Harris that his government would make good on its pine beetle funding commitments, claiming “that’s the attitude we want to bring to government – if you say something, you’d better be prepared to back it up” (2).

Fast forward to 2015. The pine beetle has wiped out most of the region’s lodge pole pine forests and the forest industry is suffering a severe timber shortage. More mill closures and cutbacks loom on the horizon for communities like Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Prince George, all of which, over many decades, have provided lucrative revenues for both the federal and provincial governments, as well as corporate interests. Now these highly productive wood manufacturing centres face extremely difficult times.

So, what about the Harper government’s $1 billion funding promise to the region which was supposed to be released at a rate of $100 million a year for ten years? Where does it stand now? Unfortunately, something happened not long after the 2006 election. Only two installments (amounting to $200 million) were actually paid out before the tap was turned off and the funding was folded into other programs. In other words, $800 million is still owed.

Given the scale of the pine beetle destruction, this $200 million doesn’t look much different than what Harper called the former Liberal government’s “paltry” amount of $140 million. So much for receiving the assistance you would expect from a federal government. And so much for the Conservatives backing up their promises.

This issue has been raised before in 250 News (3), as well as by the Stand Up for the North Committee, Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson, and others in the region. Now, Prince George City Council and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako have passed a resolution calling on the federal government to pay up the $800 million still owing. As city councilor Albert Koehler has said, “we would like to have [the funding] flowing through the north somehow” (4).

This resolution is a positive development and should be supported by everyone in the region, irrespective of their politics. And it, as well as what communities can do to grapple with this looming crisis, should be made a major federal election issue.

A promise is a promise.

Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at: peter.ewart@shaw.ca

  1. “Harper commits $1billion.” Kamloops This Week. Sept 16, 2005 http://www.kamloopsthisweek.com/harper-commits-1-billion/
  2. Prince George Free Press. May 5, 2006.
  3. Ewart, Peter. “Conservative MPs … What about the promised $1 billion in pine beetle funding?” 250 News. August 29, 2012. http://old.250news.com/blog/view/25464/7/conservative+mps+…+what+about+the+promised+$1+billion+in+pine+beetle+funding%3F?id=&st=30
  4. Macdonald–Meisner, Elaine. “Call for Feds to deliver promised funding.” June 30, 2015. 2015/06/30/call-for-feds-to-deliver-promised-funding/


It’s time to rid the BC interior of “Con disease”.

We were promised open an transparent government too . Now we have a government more akin to a crime family .

There are many ways to approach this problem. Standing around with you hand out waiting for the Federal Government to fill it with money is one way.

If you read the article you will note that the Feds paid $200 Million and then folded the money into other programs. So how much money did North Central BC get in other programs.<<<

Secondly, you would be pretty hard pressed to find any forest company in BC that is hurting because of the Pine Beetle . In fact with the cheap stumpage rates on pine killed timber, the huge increase in prices in the US, Japan, China, etc; for lumber these companies have been making great profits for years.

The Federal Government also implemented the export tax on lumber to he USA when the price falls below $300.00 per thousand board feet. The altervative to this tax, was for the Americans to collect a duty at the border. So the export tax in collected at the border by Cdn Customs and then forwarded to the Provinces by the Federal Government. There was a period of time after 2006 when the yearly payment was in the area of $500 Million. So another way that the Province got their money back.

I am not going to lose any sleep over multi national forest companies making huge profits.

Considering the overall threat of the Pine Beetle, it would appear that a lot of money was made in the sort term. Over the long haul there may be a different story.

One only has to look at John Chretian and the Liberals and their pledge to eliminate the GST if elected, and get rid of the Free Trade Agreement with the Americans. This should give you some insight into how Governments keep their promises.

So. We are into election mode. Lets see what sort of silly promises we get from the NDP.

The litany of lies by Harper is growing very long. What is apparent is that he will say and do anything to gain power, but his word means very little, and his policies are some of the most failed and destructive in Canadian history.

The national observer had a great article making the case for Harper being the worst prime minister in Canadian history.

They break it down policy by policy, the environment, the economy, the budget, foreign affairs… and it reads like an epic failure its a wonder anyone can support this guy anymore.


Signing that softwood lumber deal was a betrayal to the spirit of NAFTA. It was a case Canada could have clearly won on the rule of law principle, but Harper pulled the plug to spin it as a win and be done with those pesky forest industry issues. Basically Harpers solution was to facilitate the companies that were built on our crown fiber, with our subsidies, our local talents and generational dedication… and to facilitate these companies relocating their operations to the American side of the border and put at a disadvantage those that do not follow the relocation plot.

All Harpers policies are for Wall Street investors and not a local free enterprise market. His beetle kill investments were for large multinationals for things like emissions reductions… but had nothing to do with diversifying the market, increasing the market share for Canada, or supporting innovative start ups.

The issue is not the profits of the large multinationals, but rather the diversity of the industry so it can sustain the coming fall down of pine fiber. Nothing has been done to mitigate the fall down in allowable cut even if the majors are all still turning a profit as they downsize and relocate their operations to American mills.

Worst PM in Canadian history? Lester Pearson. Even Trudeau and Mulroney, let alone Harper, (who’s one of the better ones, and may yet turn out to be one of the best), were never THAT bad.

But in regards to the article. Suppose the $ 800 million had been dispensed as promised, in a period of nation-wide recession, to just ONE region? Those who already have a hate on for Harper would be wailing that the ‘budget’ was $ 800 million further in the red as a result. Would THEIR preferred choices for his replacement maintained balanced budgets all through that period? Or gone into the red, like Harper’s government did, to ease what would have otherwise been a much greater economic hardship?

Eagleone:-“The issue is not the profits of the large multinationals, but rather the diversity of the industry so it can sustain the coming fall down of pine fiber. Nothing has been done to mitigate the fall down in allowable cut even if the majors are all still turning a profit as they downsize and relocate their operations to American mills.”

By investing in the US South, where there still is plentiful fibre, Canadian companies are dealing with the “diversity of the industry” in a multitude of ways. For one thing, that investment there gives lie to the long-standing US lumber lobby claim that the Canadian mills are being unfairly subsidised because the majority of fibre is Crown owned and our system of allocating and managing it differs from theirs. For why, if this were truly so, wouldn’t all those Canadian companies just invest where fibre is (supposedly) subsidised instead of where they have to (supposedly) openly compete for it?

Mitigating the fall down in the allowable cut will come as there are ACTUAL opportunities, Eagle. It will be, hopefully, market driven. For consumer demand is still the only sane origin of all economic activity. And there’s sure as hell no sanity in building so-called ‘value added’ capacity if there’s NO MARKET for whatever they’re making.

Palopu this is an anticonservative website along with the majority of media, you confuse them with facts. Somehow the other political parties are clean only the conservatives are dirty, collective short memories. If another party gets in it will be interesting to see how they are treated especially by the CBC.

Yikes eagleone that was a long read. He’s even more evil than I thought .

“there’s sure as hell no sanity in building so-called ‘value added’ capacity if there’s NO MARKET for whatever they’re making.”

There is always a MARKET for something.

One has to be SMART in order to understand where there are current MARKETS for SERVICES and PRODUCTS which have not been satisfied to capacity yet and in which one has the capacity to compete.

One has to be SMARTER, and DARING enough to take a RISK to enter a MARKET in the early stages or, dare I say it, actually CREATE a market.

Let me give you a Canuck manufacturing example. Bombardier with its early version of snowmobiles.

Where are today’s Bombardier’s. I am sure if someone who knows the product and service industry, there are plenty of Canadian enterprises who do more than just wait till the MARKET is saturated. A good example of that is BC’s very late start in the LNG industry.

Things are happening in spite of the lack of leadership from Ottawa . Cities and communities are leading . Like Kimberly sunmine or onecowichan.ca change is coming fast . Steve is a dinosaur and he’s also going to be gone soon . Prentice and Steve are two sides of the same coin or should I say slug .

There are a few of you that better double-up on your Xanax, Zoloft and Prozac prescriptions before the Fall election. Perhaps some counselling might be in order as well.

I suspect that in spite of your thoughts on the subject, things will not go your way!

With that thought in mind, have a nice weekend!

We don’t all live in Harpervally BC.

Dick Harris was our rep in parliament. I always suspected that he was dead so he couldn’t call out for $8 never mind $800 million for the people who not only paid his wages but elected him again and again and again. Now he is collecting the second highest pension post humus I suspect. What a system!

ps – welcome back Peter.

Don’t forget Bob !!! he’s been working hard to keep the cost of guns down . That should offset the 800 mil owed . PG gong show .

Great op-ed Peter. Who knew that calling the Harper Government out on their election promise would result in this site being called a “site for lefties”. Does this mean the City of Prince George, and other municipalities, calling on the Feds to honour the mountain pine beetle funding are lefties as well?

www. princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/city-calling-on-feds-to-honour-pine-beetle-funding-1.1988427

Part of a story in the Canadian Press to-day.

The Harper Government has invested over $25 Billion dollars to support research and innovation, and science, technology.

The reluctance of Canadian companies to allocate more resources into innovation, thereby helping to improve efficiency and create new products, has been a long-running challenge to federal and provincial governments.

**We’re just about the bottom of the barrel…our performance since about 2001 has gone in the complete opposite direction of the 16 peer countries that we look at as well as the OECD overall.**

So seems Canadian business lags behind other countries when it come to research an innovation, and in fact has a dismal record. Seems also they wait for the Americans to produce a product and then copy it.

So lets put the blame where it belongs, ie; with poor business performance in Canada.

Blaming Harper is a political ploy of the left, however its not bases on
facts. Especially when you cherry pick topics, and leave the good news stories behind.

Palopu, in the election it was stated the area would get. 1 billion for the pine beetle.. They lied.. Taking any money out of it and giving it for another reason is slimy politics…it’s called lying.

Look up how many smaller companies went under because of the pine beetle…the big boys could survive it..it’s the smaller ones that failed…. Btw. How did pope and talbot do? Big company that went bankrupt because of the beetle. Oops..

You slam the NDP again… When was the last time they ran the country? It’s not the ndps promises we have to worry about..it’s harpers..

P Val. Your the expert. So give us a list of smaller companies that went broke because of the Pine Beetle. This should be no problem for an expert like yourself.

I suggest that you will come up with very few that can be attributable to the Pine Beetle for the simple reason there were very few small companies.

When you talk about lying in politics the Liberals come to mind. There is also something that is called lying by omission. Seems to me the Liberals bilked us for $45 Billion from the EI fund, and transferred it to general revenue, plus cut transfers to the Provinces to balance their budget, however none of this was mentioned during the election. Hmmmmm.

To put things in perspective.

Canadians are saving more than $30 Billion in federal taxes-or a little less than $1,000 per person–due to tax changes introduced in the past decade. Canada’ budget watchdog says in a new report.

The calculation from the Parliamentary Budget Officer shows the accumulation of tax relief that has come about sine 2005, when the then-Liberal government reduced the minimum income tax rate to 15% from 16%.

Since,then the Harper government has raised the basic personal exemption, introduced the Child Tax Credit and Working Income Tax Benefit, pension income splitting and famously sliced two percentage points off the GST to five percent, among other changes.

The result,. says the PBO is that personal income taxes are $17.1 billion lower today than they might have been and Canadian Consumers are paying about $13.3 billion less in value-added taxes on their purchases of goods and services.

The vast majority of changes have occurred under the Conservatives, which took office in February 2006.

So the you have it. Read it and weep.

“Suppose the $ 800 million had been dispensed as promised,…”

If indeed they were not spent they will come in handy now to buy about 4 of the new F-35 fighter planes! Cost is about 165 million dollars US each. So far over 1 trillion (1,000 billion) has been spent on the thing which some people call a lemon.

That of course would not include the projected cost of the thirty year maintenance and service agreement. That could easily add a couple of hundred million dollars more. Only US personnel will be allowed to work on the things as the 95 million lines of computer code are top secret.

Apparently, in combat trials, during head to head dogfight maneuvers, a F-16 built in the 1970’s out performed and dominated the F-35.

Harper, and the kids in short pants, do not know what they are doing, or buying. It’s time to kick these kids out of their sandbox.

http: //tinyurl.com/qesezrv

Cut and paste the link to your browser address bar, then delete the space between the http: and the /

Not sure who bought the CF 18’s however we know for sure it wasn’t Harper.

Seems since the 80’s we have had 12 of these planes go down in accidents. Hmmmmmm.

So we need replacements.

The next thing you know Sophic Sage will have us exhume the Avro Arrow, and try and put that plane back in the sky.

Sophic. If you kicked these kids out of the sandbox who would you play with?? Your cats??

Sophic, while your post on the F-16 out performing the F-35 sounds dramatic, “WTF, a 40 year old plane beats down the newest from the US war machine??” To be fair the F-16 is constantly upgraded with the latest tech. Having said that…the F-35 does seem to be plagued with numerous issues including an ever increasing price tag. History will show if this was a smart purchase or not.

Prince George:-“If indeed they were not spent they will come in handy now to buy about 4 of the new F-35 fighter planes! Cost is about 165 million dollars US each. So far over 1 trillion (1,000 billion) has been spent on the thing which some people call a lemon. ”

The thing is, Prince George, whether the F-35 turns out to be a lemon or not, (and our Armed Forces have a long history of buying ‘lemons’, dating back the Ross rifle in World War One, right through all the other duds bought by later governments of BOTH parties), we can’t expect that the Americans or any other major recipient of our exports will ‘trade’ with us if we don’t buy something from them. This has little to do with buying what’s right for our military, (unfortunately ~ and the past Liberal governments have a way worse record in their purchases than Conservative ones have), and a whole lot to do with how the ‘money system’ works internationally.

Funny how Sophic completely ignores Palopu’s most excellent comment posted at 6:53 (probably because the truth hurts) and instead comes out with another attack on Harper!

Boring, Sophic, boring!

Sophic seems to still hold the ‘poor are poor because the rich are rich’ idea so long beloved of those on the political left. So the actual record of tax reductions by the Harper government so beneficial to us all listed by Palopu will always be conveniently overlooked.

What Canada needs in the way of bombers at the moment are waterbombers . We are not under attack from terrorists . We ARE under attack from forest fires . We have thousands of fire driven refugees here , now . Come on Steve . The enemy is here and the enemy that is attacking us is forest fire . Step up to the plate Steve . It’s an election year .

I do not understand why posters on here are trying to outdo each other about how many tax deductions the Harper government has introduced.

We have to remember that the more money is in people’s pockets, the more they will spend. That would work if they spent it on Canadian goods and services. However, they will keep on spending it on vacations in foreign countries, flying in foreign aircraft and airlines, buying foreign goods and services and, because of the devalued C$, pay more for those foreign goods and services than ever before.

The Government is increasing our indebtedness by reducing income from industry and people in order to give people more spending money without controlling where they can spend the “extra” money.

At least Greeks are doing the same through cheating on taxes. Harper is doing it because he thinks he is fiscally responsible.

Far from it.

Palopu, socredible, Hart Guy;

Please, while I appreciate all this attention, attacking me is juvenile. I completely understand your need to bring up the very few off-topic accomplishments of this Harper Government, particularly in light of this not-so-positive topic about the Harper Government “reneging on an election promise”. Perhaps mine, and others, not so flattering comments about the Harper Government have you on the defensive, so it is understandable that you need to lash out and attack someone.

My advice to you, is get used to this. It is an election year, and between now and October 19th, it will be open season on the Harper Government on this comment board.

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