MONTREAL – Following the permanent closing of two of AbitibiBowater’s mills that employed 570 workers in Quebec, the Liberal Party of Canada’s plan to revitalize the forestry sector is needed now more than ever, Liberal MPs said today.
“Stephen Harper has no long term vision for regional economic development. He governs with no concern whatsoever for Quebec or Quebec workers, and the Bloc is in no position to do anything about it. Quebecers deserve a progressive, decent and responsible federal government, that will govern for the long term for the regions of Quebec,” said Michael Ignatieff, who is in Quebec this week with the Liberal Express.
“The forestry sector is cash-strapped, but the Harper government is not doing anything about it,” said Michael Ignatieff’s representative Quebec, Marc Garneau, said following a tour of the Laurentian and Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean regions. “The Conservatives still refuse to provide the loan guaranties that are necessary to boost this industry in Quebec.”
AbitibiBowater employed 240 workers at its Dolbeau-Mistassini mill and 330 in Gatineau. “Quebec just lost 570 full time jobs because of Conservative inaction. Stephen Harper could have saved these 570 jobs,” said Alexandra Mendès, Liberal Critic for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
“The Conservatives have not lifted a finger to prevent these two mills from closing,” she added. “They gave up on the forestry sector, and they gave up on Quebec.”
In contrast, the Liberal Party has committed to provide loan guarantees to the forestry sector. In 2005, the Liberal Government had set up a $1.6 billion plan to boost the forestry sector, but the Conservative government cancelled it.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is committed to policies that will encourage the revitalization and transformation of the forestry sector and will support its workers. These policies will enhance the forestry sector’s competitiveness, create jobs and stop the decline it is currently experiencing under the Harper government:
- An unprecedented commitment to clean energy by quadrupling Canada’s production of renewable energy by 2017, including investments in research and development to drive forest product innovation for new clean bio-energy technologies;
- Boosting job-creating productivity and competitiveness through a cash advance on the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance to help manufacturers purchase new equipment;
- Negotiating loan guarantees and improving access to credit for Canada’s forestry companies; and
- Going where the growth is, to open new markets for forest products in India, China and other emerging economies.