POLITICS

New Brunswick government says it will respect forestry contacts signed by Tories

03/19/2015 12:22 EDT | Updated 05/19/2015 05:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - New Brunswick will respect contracts signed with forestry companies by the previous Progressive Conservative government, including an increased allocation of wood that can be cut from Crown land, Premier Brian Gallant said Thursday.

Last year, the previous government released a 10-year forestry plan that allows companies to harvest an additional 660,000 cubic metres of softwood a year, an increase of 20 per cent.

The Liberals have let open the possibility of changing the forestry plan and Natural Resources Minister Denis Landry has held meetings with forestry companies and other groups.

In December, Landry said any changes to the forestry plan might not be easy because the government didn't want to get into a court battle with the big forestry companies.

Gallant said it's too soon to say what changes might be made.

"We want to ensure we have a plan that is sustainable and one that is going to create jobs and one that is also going to understand that the forestry in this province plays a vital role for quality of life," Gallant said.

The Conference Board of Canada says the forestry deal will result in gross domestic product growth for the first time in New Brunswick since 2008.

Green Leader David Coon said any changes to the forestry plan won't mean much.

"All they can do is put some rouge on this pig," Coon said. "It's the allocations in the contracts that have flipped forest management on Crown lands in this province on its head and rendering it unsustainable."

Glen Savoie, the Tories natural resources critic, says the government needs to end the uncertainty and announce what changes will be made.