by Julie Cafley, Vice-President, Canada’s Public Policy Forum

As vice-president of Canada’s Public Policy Forum, I have the privilege of working with and learning from Canada’s most prominent thought leaders. My work with Forum often centers on Indigenous issues and Canadian natural resources.

Canada has a proud history of protecting its forest resources. Since the late 1800s, Canada has created precedent-setting forest policy that broadly influences the governance for all of Canada’s natural resources. Beginning in 1887, when Canada amended the Land Act, the country formally acknowledged land as more valuable than its timber alone. As part of this amendment, government introduced a duty on logging Crown land. Shift to present day, where the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program has been renewed for another four years. It is clear that Canadian policy has long facilitated the sustainability and competitiveness of the forest sector, but Canada’s public has an equally rich history in defending forests for their beauty, majesty and history.

It’s rare now for government to set policy alone. More often, a diverse group of stakeholders will work together to decide how to best use Canada’s resources, including our forests. The 2010 Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) was the first of its kind to formally partner environmental groups with industry. Since its inception, the CBFA has prioritized the integration of First Nations, Metis and Inuit groups into its processes and planning. Consultation and accommodation are now commonly considered fundamental and valuable aspects of decision-making. At the Public Policy Forum, our expertise also lies in convening diverse stakeholders to discuss policy issues that are important for Canadians. At the heart of this work lies the belief that divergent perspectives can create more robust solutions for the challenges we face.

At a recent Forum discussion, we were fortunate to hear from Anne Giardini, the former President of Weyerhaeuser Canada and current Chancellor of Simon Fraser University. She emphasized how unconventional partnerships often offer the greatest rewards. She explained, “The real problem is not usually the ostensible problem … the far greater challenge is the inability of organizations to resolve problems when the solution requires engaging with other parties who see the world differently.” I would like to think that both the Public Policy Forum and the forestry industry approaches these challenges as opportunities that enhance our work and our outcomes.