03/13/2012 08:15 EDT | Updated 05/13/2012 05:12 EDT

NDP says Liberals overrule own guidelines to export raw logs

VICTORIA - B.C.'s Opposition New Democrats say the governing Liberals are shipping raw logs out of the province even while local mills are scrambling for timber.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix said Tuesday Forests Minister Steve Thomson allowed raw log exports to increase, even though a government advisory committee decreed they should be sold locally.

He said Thomson overruled the government's Timber Export Advisory Committee after it directed that logs being considered for export should instead be sold to independent manufacturer Teal Jones of Surrey, B.C.

Thomson said the logs were approved for export due to cost issues associated with the calculations over the local cost of the logs.

He said the advisory committee did not factor in the cost of shipping the logs from Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland in the final price evaluation of the timber.

Dix says Thomson's decision to overrule the government's own advisory committee adds to the government's problematic record numbers of raw log exports and the loss of B.C. forest jobs.

"They specifically intervened to stop jobs from being created in British Columbia, and in this case, to see the export of raw logs over the recommendation of the committee they put in place to advise on that question," he said.

Recent statistics show the government exported a record 5.5 million cubic metres of raw logs last year.

Dix said B.C. law stipulates that only logs deemed to exceed provincial needs are permissible for export.

Last month, NDP forests critic Norm Macdonald described the quantity of raw logs being exported as so vast, they would stretch from the B.C. coast to Thunder Bay, Ont. if stacked one after another.