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Tuesday night on Earth

The earth continued to turn following the federal election on Oct. 14, which saw Stephen Harper's Conservatives hang on to power in Ottawa. Since that Tuesday night, it has been easy to say everything...


November 1, 2008
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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The earth continued to turn following the federal election on Oct. 14, which saw Stephen Harper’s Conservatives hang on to power in Ottawa. Since that Tuesday night, it has been easy to say everything’s “business as usual.”

Yet, less than 24 hours after the polls closed, the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) challenged the government to step up its actions concerning the future of this planet at the Business of Climate Change conference in Toronto on Oct. 15.

In a compelling speech, FPAC president and CEO Avrim Lazar called on the election’s winners to intensify their actions against climate change.

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The federal government, Lazar said, should accelerate the adoption of new, forward-thinking measures to combat this ever-present issue. Lazar added it is imperative the country begin a new generation of programs and policies related to climate change.

You read that right: the speaker was not from an environmental movement such as Greenpeace; he is, in fact, at the head of an organization that considers itself the spokesperson for Canadian wood, paper and pulp producers, both within Canada and abroad.

FPAC represents members of the Canadian forest products industry on crucial points, including government relations, commercial matters, as well as environmental and ecological issues.

It is worth the time to examine Lazar’s speech more in-depth in order to gain a firm grasp on its content. The key to truly understanding its significance lies in the following passage: “Canadians have been clear about their expectations for strong government leadership on both the environment and a competitive economy throughout the recent election campaign,” Lazar said. “Regardless of what’s happening with the TSX or the NYSE, now is the time to fully integrate competitive economic thinking into environmental planning. Ignoring environmental pressures during hard economic times will just put Canada further behind the curve. Industry has no choice but to take action on climate change in order to remain competitive -our customers around the world demand it. And more than ever before, we need to know our governments are on board.”

One can easily see the strong ties Lazar made between the economy and climate change. As a sign of the times, he urged the federal government to keep the question of competition in mind in relation to climate change, a question which a number of forestry companies are now faced with. Swedish, American, Finnish, Canadian and others -they all must deal with competition.

We are no longer in an era where climate change is an issue only small circles of specialists are interested in, nor is it solely spoken of in terms of profits and losses in the business world.

Canada must roll up its sleeves and get to work on innovative environmental policies, which notably need to address fiscal matters. With this in mind, it is hard not to agree with FPAC’s position: disadvantaging Canadian industry on global trade can have the perverse impact of harming the global environment and exporting jobs to polluting countries.

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