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UCP government signs logging agreement with party donor

The donor has given the party (and its predecessors) $20,000 over the last 9 years.

Earlier this month, the Alberta government announced that it had signed a new forest management agreement.

The 20-year agreement gives Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd., a subsidiary of Spray Lake Sawmills, the ability to extract timber from forests within a 3,500 square kilometre area known as Forest Management Unit C5 (shown in purple below), located in the Rockies of southwestern Alberta.

According to the announcement, the agreement prohibits Crowsnest Forest Products from extracting forest timber from Castle Provincial Park.

This is the first forest management agreement the provincial government has signed in over 20 years. Prior to this signing, the most recent agreement was signed in 2009 with Weyerhaeuser Company Limited.

The announcement reported that the agreement will result in $32 million to the provincial government through the collection of timber dues, as well as holding and protection charge payments, from the company extracting the forest timber.

Keep in mind, however, that the $32 million is for the 20-year period, which averages out to $1.6 million a year in additional revenue. For reference, the government brought in $11.3 billion in total revenue last year, not just forest-related revenue.

In other words, this new agreement will increase provincial revenue by 0.014% a year.

Another claim the government made in the announcement was that the agreement would add $225 million to Alberta’s GDP. Again, that’s over 20 years, so the per-year average would actually be about $11.25 million.

Alberta’s GDP in both 2018 and 2019 was a little more than $334 billion. That means this agreement will boost Alberta’s GDP by 0.0034% a year.

Finally, the announcement stated that the agreement would mean “reliable, well-paying jobs for hundreds of hard-working Albertans”. What it doesn’t state is how many of those are new jobs. After all, how many of these hundreds of jobs already existed?

Prior to signing the agreement, Crowsnest Forest Products was already extracting timber from forests within C5. In fact, as of June 2020, their allowable cut was 92,613 cubic metres of timber annually.

There was no word on how those amounts will change under the new agreement.

That timber quota, however, expired just this past April. During the 4.2 years the quota ran for, they were allowed potentially a total harvest of just under 390,000 cubic metres of forest timber.

So, if they’ve been extracting forest timber in the area all this time anyhow (at least until this past April), then how many of these “hundreds of jobs” will be new ones?

And here’s some interesting information: the owner of Spray Lake Sawmills is a UCP donor.

During the 2012 provincial election, for example, Barry Mjolsness, the owner and president of SLS, donated $2,000 to the Wildrose Alliance Party, a predecessor of the UCP. In the 2014 byelection in Calgary–Elbow, he donated $1,000 to the campaign of Gordon Dirks, who ran for the PC party. He donated $1,000 to Dirks again the following year during the general election. In 2018, Mjolsness and his spouse, Lorna, each donated $4,000 to the UCP constituency association in Airdrie–Cochrane. Last year, they donated $3,000 each to the same constituency association—the largest donors for that association—as well as $1,000 each to the UCP.

That adds up to $20,000 between Mjolsness and his spouse that has been donated to the UCP or their predecessors over the last 9 years.

Now to be fair, he also donated $562.50 to the NDP in 2015 and $375 in 2017.

If you made it this far, check out my story from last week on the forestry industry over the last 30 years in Alberta.

By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 4 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

3 replies on “UCP government signs logging agreement with party donor”

When looking at forestry it’s important to remember that Klien/West fired all of the provincial inspectors and let the forestry companies set their own limits without oversight.
As a side note in 2012-2013 Spraylakes logged a portion of the Elbow River watershed. They claimed it was to remove the fuel load, but it wasn’t. This logging removed the forest that would have helped hold back the flood waters in the 2013 flood. This was pointed out by Bragg Creek residents, however, Spaylakes was quick to deny it, and the provincial government said nothing of note. I think about the lack of any kind of oversight, and what an impartial voice might have said.

We’re lipstick and kneepads involved? Looks more like very cheap donations for very, very large paybacks. Sure smells like welfare clearcutting to me, and the government collect next to nothing and the people get the cleanup costs. Pretty sweet deal for so called “Christians”.

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