If you have been listening to the discussion around clear cutting and glyphosate spraying in the province, you will know that Prof. Lahey presented a Forestry Review, three months ago, months after its anticipated completion. You will also know that the NS Liberal Government has failed to respond to this review since it was presented.
While public commentary has been mixed, it is odd that no word came from government, until just this Friday, when it was announced that Iain Rankin, Minister of Lands and Forestry, will finally release the government’s response on Monday, December 3rd.
While there appear to be some good elements in the review, there are also a good number of things that concern the forest defenders. No mention of Biomass consumption in the province was included in the report. The continued use of glyphosate, in spite of public outcry and recent legal findings, was not only recommended, but the suggestion that taxpayers foot the bill sent migraines and heartache across the province. There were other aspects of the review that pleased or angered readers, but recently the review has created a real frustration for other reasons.
As the absence of response from government persisted, approvals for more clear cuts kept coming. Just this week, an approval was issued for over 700 hectares on the South Shore, in spite of widespread opposition and public input. Mainland Moose and bird species already at risk, are further threatened as more habitat is decimated. Several approvals were issued in locations where the locals presented a great wealth of knowledge and good reason to not continue with mowing down these large swaths of forests, including their personal views on the practice. The people, the true owners of these lands, repeatedly and passionately opposed the clear cuts, and government repeatedly and handily ignored them.
Only after the list of approvals for this year was issued, did word finally come that government would respond. Do I think they waited on purpose? Do I believe they wanted to make sure the crop for this year was secured before they made any move toward enacting any of Lahey’s recommendations? Absolutely. Whole heartedly. And quite voraciously.
The mill in Pictou, and the Biomass Plant have annual consumption estimates to cover, and whatever volumes cannot be guaranteed through private lands, would require access to the cheap and “readily available” volumes supplied by the government of Nova Scotia, on behalf of the taxpayers who actually own the crown lands. Maybe the government is also relying on the estimated revenues from Northern Pulp and Nova Scotia Power.
But what I came to learn this week, opened my eyes again to the small circle of people and corporate interests that truly do have control of this province. Prof. Lahey, the supposed unbiased and well rounded researcher… has been influenced and biased all along. I suspected it, but now it is clear.
Prof. Lahey is looking a lot like just another industry shill. Another ‘Board member’. But not just a board member… Chair of the Board. Another so called independent expert, perpetuating industry friendly ‘facts’. Prof. Lahey is part of the One family, sitting on the Board of Directors of Efficiency One, a spin off ‘non-profit’ franchaise of Efficiency Nova Scotia, an arm of Nova Scotia Power. He shares board membership with the likes of Jack Kyte, who leads the charge in promoting Northern Pulp’s interests in the province. As a former mill executive, Kyte continues to lurk in various places and on boards, and lists himself as a PR professional. Prof. Lahey is supposed to be independent. Yet here we find him running the show for the Energy Corp, sitting next to the longtime mouthpiece for the pulp industry, talking about forestry practices, or omitting large chunks of the forest industry, in ways that benefit both industries and we should believe he is independent? Lahey, like Kyte, sits on numerous boards and chairs some of them as well.
As a backgrounder, there are far too many ad hoc boards, and think tanks, populated by far too few people, crossing over from one board to another representing far too fewer factions and promoting the interests of corporations disguised as the greater good. Mostly industry and not a lot of humanity gets promoted. These boards are treated like the overseers, the expert opinions, the goodness and brilliance of the province’s most well connected and well paid CEOs and highly esteemed friends of the already wealthy. They tout independence, while ensuring no such thing is possible.
When industry cannot appear to be directly influencing or benefitting from government decision and taxpayer dollars, a board is created. And the board is populated by members chosen to further the goals of corporations. Sometimes it is the CEOs themselves, sometimes it is upper management. Often the local university presidents and professors are invited to provide a false sense of academic consensus.
So with this new knowledge about the Reviewer, and the delayed reaction to the review, I wonder what exactly we are waiting for? Will government act on the recommendations? Some of them? Which ones? Is Northern Pulp set up with a sufficient supply for their year ahead? Was biomass omitted because it is coming to a close? Was Lahey tasked with leading appearances of a path forward for forest recovery, or a path toward permitting current and worsening industrial practices?
Whose best interests were really at play during the review?