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Forest Industry Is a “Powerhouse!”


March 1, 2007
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Delegates and guests at the Annual PAPTAC and FPAC Business Luncheon had much to savour. Yet, pleasing as the meal was, it was the glowing praise and pledge of financial investment from the Honourable…

Delegates and guests at the Annual PAPTAC and FPAC Business Luncheon had much to savour. Yet, pleasing as the meal was, it was the glowing praise and pledge of financial investment from the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, which brought more satisfaction to those in attendance.

“Your industry is to be commended for its efforts to adjust to the new realities of changing circumstances,” Minister Lunn said, as he addressed an audience of industry representatives who have felt the aggressive push of global competition butting up on Canadian companies. “The government of Canada is committed to the forest industry — you are a powerhouse!” he added.

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Minister Lunn addressed the luncheon to announce the Federal Government’s eco-approach to industry, and added that, “…the largest untapped industry is the industry of wasted energy.” In a move to address the need to exploit future market prospects, Lunn spoke of a $127 million investment to ensure the long-term health of this nation’s forest industry and its workers. Lunn remarked that the forest industry had given him a great life and that he was “very appreciative to it for that,” and that the industry itself would set the focus on the priorities it needs.

He pointed out that although Canada, at present, is the best source of high value forestry products, he emphasized the need for the industry to invest in new high-tech systems that would assist in keeping Canada in the lead position of global markets, and competitive solutions.

Lunn also said that $70 million would be made available to FPInnovations, based in Montreal, and that this capital investment would be aimed at research and development, and in providing a single unified voice for the industry that “will be accountable to the forest industry.” He pointed out the challenges the audience was already familiar with that confront the forest industry; environmental and trade regulations, energy prices, a strong Canadian dollar (affecting exports), foreign competition, and pest control-related issues. Yet, the Minister was equally quick to sound the note of optimism when he declared that, “These are strategically designed initiatives to ensure that the industry not just survives — but thrives!”

Book-ending Minister Lunn’s speech was Avrim Lazar, president and CEO of FPAC. Lazar told the audience that there are only two types of politicians in Ottawa, those who “stand up for our industry, and those who don’t.” In response to Minister Lunn’s speech and his acknowledgment of the forest industry’s annual $44 billion contribution to Canada’s GDP, Lazar saluted the Minister by exalting, “You, Minister, get it!”

Other key speeches included an address by outgoing PAPTAC Chairman, Scott Travers, who reminisced about his experiences as Chair, graciously thanked the members for their support during his mandate, challenged them to keep moving and innovating, and introduced members to their new Chairperson, Marie Dumontier. She in turn thanked Travers for his efforts, and presented him with a commemorative plaque, on behalf of organization’s members. Then she briefly spoke of the challenges that faced PAPTAC, and confidently stated her belief that with cohesion and commitment, those challenges would be met and overcome.

Yes, on this day the audience had much to savour, and although it appears the Federal Government does indeed “get it.” Only time will tell if this nation and its forest industry will be up to the challenge of keeping it.


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