New Democrat candidate in Cariboo-Prince George Jon Van Barneveld.

Van Barneveld will push wood-first in Ottawa

New Democrat candidate for Cariboo-Prince George Jon Van Barneveld says he will promote the implementation of a national wood-first policy, if electors send him to Ottawa.

New Democrat candidate for Cariboo-Prince George Jon Van Barneveld says he will promote the implementation of a national wood-first policy, if electors send him to Ottawa.

“As your elected member of parliament, I would introduce a private members bill to implement a national wood-first policy,” said Van Barneveld. “My first priority as your MP will be and will always be to advocate for my constituents. Promoting forestry is advocating for my constituents.”

Van Barneveld’s proposed bill would be based on Bill C-429, which, similar to B.C.’s wood first policy, states that “before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property, the minister shall give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood as a primary building material.”

Conservative candidate Dick Harris says the bill Van Barneveld is referring to was put forward by the Bloc Quebecois.

“I don’t give two hoots who put forward the motion if it’s good for Canada,” Van Barneveld said, adding he is “dismayed” at Dick Harris’ record in regards to supporting a national wood-first policy.

“Dick Harris voted against our interests and voted against the wood first policy, Bill C-429 not once, not twice, but three times in 2010,” said Van Barneveld. “He was clearly resting on his laurels when the Conservatives were rolling out the economic stimulus package.”

Harris said Van Barneveld should “do some research.” He said Ottawa has spent millions dollars promoting Canadian wood in Canada and around the world.

“It’s kind of a redundant bill to put in another one,” Harris said.

Van Barnveld also suggested that the $1 billion promised to help British Columbia through the mountain pine beetle epidemic should have been targeted at small forestry operators as well as the mills and that it should have been in addition to Economic Action Plan funding that was rolled out to help deal with the recession.

The money that was delivered prior to the Economic Action Plan was delivered to small communities, Harris said.

“The Economic Action Plan supersedes the mountain pine beetle plan until we’re out of this recession,” Harris said, adding that unemployment rate in Cariboo-Prince George is lower than the provincial and federal average.

“We will take a huge amount of credit for that through our economic stimulus package,” Harris said.