by David Lindsay, President and CEO, FPAC

The major focus of public policy debate in Canada these past several months has been the federal election. As the voice of the forest products industry in Canada, FPAC has been active in promoting our industry to all candidates of the three main political parties. We have communicated with every Liberal, NDP and Conservative candidate as well as some Green Party representatives promoting our economic, environmental and innovation agenda.

In addition, as the national association for Canada’s forest sector, we also promote our story on the international stage. Canada’s forest industry is a major exporter so it’s important that we tell the story of our innovation agenda and our environmental credentials abroad.

Trade deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Canada Europe Trade Agreement (CETA) will be helpful in reducing trade barriers, but Canada is in a globally competitive marketplace so continuing to tell the story about our green credentials and the quality of Canada’s innovative new forest products is an important part of our overall trade agenda.

Recently FPAC’s Senior Director of Trade and Transportation Joel Neuheimer joined several senior government officials from British Columbia and the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco for a day of advocacy at the State of California’s State Legislature in Sacramento California to defend the interests of the Canadian lumber industry. A California legislator was promoting a Bill in the State legislature to give preferential treatment to California wood. The Bill would have created a procurement policy for the State to favour purchases of wood for California harvested lumber and solid wood products over Canadian products (i.e. “California Assembly Bill 429” from Assembly Member Dahle).

With the coordinated efforts of FPAC, the Federal government and British Columbia’s Forest Innovation Investment (FII), we were successful in convincing the Governor of California Jerry Brown to veto this legislation.

Promoting the green credentials of the forest industry is a big part of our international efforts. We have published a series of information fact sheets which can be used at trade conferences and for individual promotional activities with customers. These fact sheets highlight various aspects of our environmental record and sustainability practices such as migratory birds, third party certification, illegal logging, old growth forests, green building and many more. They are also available in a number of languages including German, Japanese, simplified Chinese and Korean as well as English and French.

One of our signature initiatives at FPAC has been the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). It is an agreement signed between environmental groups and FPAC companies, informed by science and aimed at reducing ecological pressure on the boreal forest while enhancing economic opportunity in the forest sector. This represents a paradigm shift as forest companies and environmental groups work together to integrate economic and environmental values.

Mark Hubert, our Vice President of Environmental Leadership attended the United Nations World Forest Congress in Durban South Africa in September to tell the story about the CBFA. The international congress, which takes place every five years and attracts several thousand leaders in forestry from around the world, was also attended by Natural Resources Canada who have been a strong supporter of the innovative collaborative model and a big reason for the Agreement’s success.

Telling the story about this largest agreement of its type in the world is one more example of FPAC representing the Canadian forest industry to the world. We in Canada have much to be proud of in forest management. Telling our story is not only good for our member companies, and good for Canadian trade, it is good for Canada’s environmental reputation on the global stage.

The Forest Products Association of Canada is also a member of an international organization called the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA). The national associations from around the world share best practices through the ICFPA and collectively we promote and advocate on behalf of the industry. Later this year the climate change summit known as COP21 will take place in Paris. Through the ICFPA we will be telling the forestry story and highlighting the importance of wood fibre as a green renewable resource which can provide part of the solution to climate change. I hope to write more about that in a subsequent blog.

So international advocacy and promotion is a large part of what we do at FPAC. While the federal election was happening in Canada we continued to promote Canada’s forest industry to the world.