Bill 151 Passes Third Reading in Ontario Legislature

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Michael Gravelle

Hon. Michael GravelleTHUNDER BAY – Ontario now has new Forestry Tenure legislation. “We’ve worked hard on this legislation to address concerns about change, as well as the desire for change. Now it’s time for action to balance private interests with the overriding public interest in putting Ontario’s wood and people back to work,” stated Michael Gravelle the Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.

Randy Hillier, Ontario PC Critic for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, however is condemning the McGuinty Liberals for slamming the door shut on Northern Ontario families with their forest tenure legislation. “Third reading on Bill 151 was limited to only 1 hour of debate this morning, after which the Liberals passed this dangerous legislation,” charges Hillier. “Throughout the process, the McGuinty Liberals have continued to conveniently neglect the overwhelming opposition to this legislation from across Northern Ontario. Back in March, the Liberals chose to cut off travel to northern communities for consultations on Bill 151, they were hammered with a flood of opposition from the Mayors of Timmins, Thunder Bay, Ignace, Espanola, Sioux Lookout, and Iroquois Falls. The forest industry has also expressed dismay with the lack of consultation perpetrated by the McGuinty Government”.

The Government states that under the new system, Ontario will introduce two new forest management models for harvesting wood from Ontario’s forests:

Local Forest Management Corporations (LFMCs) – will now manage Crown forests and oversee the competitive sale of the timber in a given area

Enhanced Shareholder Sustainable Forest Licences (SFLs) – a group of mills and/or harvesters that collectively form a new company to manage Crown forests under the Sustainable Forest Licence that is issued to them.

These two new models will help make Ontario’s timber supply and prices more responsive to market demand, make it easier for entrepreneurs to participate in the forest economy, and facilitate greater Aboriginal and local involvement in the forest sector.

The Progressive Conservatives state, “Parliamentary Assistant Mike Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin) was then caught talking out both sides of his mouth as he cancelled northern hearings from the comfort of Toronto. In hearings, he stated that the Liberals had “heard enough” from Northern Ontario. Yet back in his riding, Brown told the Mid-North Monitor that he wanted consultations in Espanola. Espanola was one of the many communities that contacted Brown pleading for consultations in Northern Ontario – pleas that he chose to ignore”.

Having passed third reading, the legislation now awaits royal assent and it will be in place.

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