You’d think that whether Weyerhaeuser Co. needs provincial government approval before it sells its Tree Farm Licences would be a pretty simple question to answer.
But apparently, it’s not. Even our MLA Bill Belsey wasn’t sure when we talked to him last week. Mr. Belsey said he thought the Liberals had changed the legislation which previously required big companies to get provincial approvals before making deals involving TFLs. But he wasn’t absolutely certain.
We called our local forest service office and talked to acting district manager Robert Vander Zalm. He didn’t know either, but did say the question was not as simple as we had imagined. Rather, he called it “elaborate”. He said there was someone else in the office who could tell us, although they weren’t in that day.
The question of whether Weyerhaeuser needs provincial government approval is crucial to the Haida Nation and is one of the issues which propelled the TFL 39 case, decided by the Supreme Court of Canada last year.
Haida Nation president Guujaaw told the protocol agreement communities last week that he believes the court ruling is holding up Weyerhaeuser’s plans to sell off its BC assets. He also said the province did give up its rights in regards to deals involving TFLs.
“The ministry in the last couple of years gave up authority to approve a transfer,” he said. “Potentially, they’re out of the loop right now.”
The problem is, the court ruling said Weyerhaeuser does not need to consult with the Haida Nation, because consultation is the responsibility of the provincial government. But if the province has changed the legislation so that it doesn’t need to give any sort of approval to the deal, how can it possibly consult the CHN before the licence is transferred?
We’ll let you know if we find out.
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