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My Interview with Green Party of Ontario Politicians: Erich Jacoby Hawkins & John Fisher

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The division is coming to a head in two regional projects. These are:

1) Shell's attempt to develop a methane mine at the sacred headwaters of three major rivers (one being the Skeena R.) and

2) Pipeline and coastal tankers for oil (to China and USA) from the Tar Sands in Alberta.

Only recently have a few treaties been finalized with B.C. First Nations, so most natives, environmentalists, outfitters (fishing, hunting etc.) and many others are successfully (so far) fighting these projects. Many B.C. First Nations have advanced education and technical (i.e. mapping) skills.

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The Green Party would put all factors (i.e. environmental, social etc.) into the mix. For example how much would a car cost if all security, space, health, environmental costs were included? This is the thrust of Green thinking!

User fees (royalties, leases etc.) of publicly owned resources should reflect actual value (see vehicle example above). Note: Alberta's Heritage Fund and Alaska's Social Dividend, although based on oil, could be funded by expanding the revenue base to all of nature's free gifts!

EJH: Under a Green economic program, resource costs would rise but labour costs would decrease. This would increase costs to American industry for Canadian resource inputs, but would also drive efficiency gains. In the long run, it would ensure a more dependable resource supply by preventing the depletion of critical resources.

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SB: What are the foreign policy implications of this policy shift?

EJH: Sorry, outside of my area.

SB: Forests are publicly owned for the most part in Canada. What are the implications of that?

EJH: On the surface, this would seem to suggest better management, but in practice the opposite is true. The logging companies are not the owners of the land, they are merely renting it while they log. They have no real interest in the future disposition of that land once they extract the lumber value, unless and until they have exhausted all other land parcels and have to log it again. Meanwhile, the government administrators also have no real ties to the land, and are often located in offices hundreds or thousands of miles away. And the government has conflicting agendas - on the one hand to steward the resource, but on the other hand to promote economic growth. The short-term pressure to create or maintain jobs thus overcomes the long-term need to preserve the resource for future generations (not to mention for non-human needs).

What happens is that government allocates more quota than can sustainably be harvested, and charges low stumpage fees (wood royalties) in exchange for promised jobs. This low cost subsidizes wasteful practices in the logging industry, and downstream in the construction industry, and even creates trade disputes. It also allows logging companies to concentrate on exporting raw logs, making their profit off the difference between wood value and stumpage. If they paid a higher cost for raw wood, they would have to concentrate more on value-added processes instead of exporting raw resources.

When forests are privately-owned, the owner wants to maximize the long-term return on land, so insists on a higher stumpage fee and a more sustainable logging pattern. There are privately owned forests, which have been sustainably logged for many decades, yet are still vibrant ecosystems, while neighboring government-administrated forests have been clear-cut and permanently degraded.

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Different forms of public ownership could achieve the same, if the ownership and administration were in the hands of the long-time residents of the land in question, whether that be a First Nations band, a community trust, or some similar organization. The key is to maintain that long-term link between the land and those who make decisions over it, and must depend on it to support them and their descendants.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former President of Common Ground-NYC (http://commongroundnyc.org/), a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of articles for (more...)

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