Home PAPTAC 2018 PWC/BIOFOR Coverage William Amos on knowing where we come from

William Amos on knowing where we come from

Paper Advance met with William Amos, Member of Parliament for Pontiac while he was visiting BIOFOR Innovation Alley. Our brief corridor discussion ranged from the economic climate south of the border to the good old days when innovative lumberjacks were leading the way, to 2018 innovation clusters and tomorrow's bioeconomy.

William Amos visiting BIOFOR Innovation Alley

Paper Advance (PA): This morning you mentioned you were reading up on the forest industry's history in the Outaouais region and that it enlightened you about a sector you did not fully know.

William Amos (WA): I believe we can only move forward when we know where we come from and, as such I think there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of the forest products industry. It may not look like it when we know our ancestors were walking on floating logs on dangerous rivers but even then, we used techniques that were considered novel and ingenious. History tells us that the industry has always responded to a range of challenges through innovation. As was discussed earlier, this and other of the industry's qualities are not communicated well enough to the general public. Even in my riding where we have an active forest industry, many people do not fully grasp the fact that there is much more to trees than wood.

PA: The Government of Canada recently announced it would provide more than $1 billion for the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund. How could this help the sector respond to climate change by emphasizing the positive impacts of using forest fibre?

WA: Across the country, just like in my riding, this investment, on top of other associated incentives will allow the forest industry to adopt best practices that are showcased in forums such as PaperWeek. It will allow more companies to modernize and green their buildings. This means an increased efficiency in energy used and a lot fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In Pontiac, we are now seeing entrepreneurs considering making use of additional forest operation residues available in the region's sawmills and turning towards bioenergy or biorefinery products such as biochemical, biofuels or wood energy pellets. To me, this is not only the sign of an evolving industry but a great example - if not the best example, of regional integration to optimize value.

PA: This integration also highlights the increasingly important interdependency of every part of the forest industry. In this context, where are the NAFTA negotiations leading the sector?

WA: Interdependency highlights the importance for all actors to have viable technical diversification options and to continue operating on multiple markets. The uncertainty we are faced with on the trade front can have ripple effects across the country and in resource-dependent communities. We are steadfast in our defence of the industry and believe the measures on softwood or uncoated paper imposed by the protectionist American government are illegal, unjustified and unfortunate. We will fight back and we will win. We won repeatedly in front of all trade panels on issues of interest to the forest sector and this time should not be different. The economic partnership between the U.S. and Canada is important for both countries and we will not negotiate lightly through social media or through the media at all. Our aim will be to demonstrate the advantages for both countries to engage in freer trade. There are win-win solutions and achieving sustainability in the industry through co-operation is just one of them.

Mathieu Régnier, Journalist,
Paper Advance


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