Natural resources minister appoints new slate of advisers on N.S. forestry practices

·4 min read
Tory Rushton is Nova Scotia's minister of natural resources and renewables. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Tory Rushton is Nova Scotia's minister of natural resources and renewables. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia's Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables Tory Rushton has picked a brand new group of advisers to help him shape the future of forestry in the province.

This week he dismissed all but one of the members of the advisory committee established by the previous Liberal government. The committee was created in the wake of the report by University of King's College president Bill Lahey, who advised the province to fundamentally shift forestry practices in Nova Scotia.

Instead of a 14-member body, a seven-member ministerial advisory committee will have Rushton's ear. Another six-member group, the Forest Biodiversity Science Advisory Committee, "will connect with the broader scientific community to support ecological forestry," according to a government news release.

Rushton told CBC News Friday he wanted to thank the members of the old advisory group for their work and that they had worked hard on the province's behalf.

"It was really nothing to do with the previous members or the actions of the previous members," Rushton said. "It is a minister's committee and relationships are built with different ministers, different governments."

He pointed out that the committee was given a two-year mandate that ended in 2021 but that mandate also included the option to renew members for another two years.

Rushton said he decided on new advisers because "we're in a different part of that transition."

Concerns about representation 

But one of the members of the previous ministerial committee is worried Rushton has not only cut back on the number of people at the table, he has given a strong voice to those in the forestry industry.

"There's less members overall and there is, it seems, a preponderance of forest industry people and not a whole lot of other stakeholder representation," said Raymond Plourde, senior wilderness coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre.

Plourde suggested those with the ear of the minister might move Rushton off the vision espoused by Lahey in his 2018 report.

"Next thing that's going to happen is that the government will come out with the high-production forestry leg of the Professor Leahy's recommended triad approach," said Plourde.

"And my fear is that they will overreach and commit way too much public land to what is heavy-duty industrial forestry, clear-cutting, planting, spraying — all the stuff that Nova Scotians generally don't like."

'Change needed to happen'

Ruthton denied that those he chose to advise him were generally of the same mind.

"I disagree with the fact that we would we have stacked on the forestry sector side of things," said Rushton.

"This is where it's going to be boots on the ground where these people are actually going to have to have an opinion and a voice as to how these changes are taking place on the ground. So we make sure that we're on the right path."

The minister said he and the Houston government were still committed to changing the way forestry is conducted across the province.

"In the last eight months we've already seen major changes," he said. "Is it an overnight change? No."

"Change needed to happen to ensure we have a future ahead of us."

Newly appointment ministerial advisory committee members

  • Jane Barker, co-director, Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute

  • Kirsten Campbell, manager, Cape Breton Privateland Partnership

  • Mac Davis, private woodlot owner

  • Angie Gillis, associate executive director, Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq

  • Greg Herrett, chair and CAO, Municipality of the County of Cumberland

  • Breck Stuart, general manager, Westfor Inc.

  • Chris Tufts, vice-president, Tufts Forestry Services Ltd.

Newly appointed Forest Biodiversity Science Advisory Committee members

  • Peter Bush, manager of forest research and planning, Department of Natural Resources and Renewables

  • Tara Crewe, chair and manager of ecosystems and habitats, Department of Natural Resources and Renewables

  • Peter Duinker, professor emeritus, Dalhousie University (retired)

  • Thom Erdle, professor, University of New Brunswick (retired)

  • Tom Herman, professor emeritus, Acadia University (retired)

  • Yolanda Wiersma, professor, Memorial University

Previous ministerial advisory committee members appointed in October 2019 

  • Karen Beazley, Dalhousie University

  • Donna Crossland

  • Angie Gillis, Mi'kmaw Conservation Group & Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq

  • Andy Kekacs, Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association

  • Jason Limongelli, J.D. Irving Ltd.

  • Bevan Lock, Port Hawkesbury Paper

  • Raymond Plourde, Ecology Action Centre

  • Paul Orser, Paper Excellence Canada

  • Debbie Reeves, Murray A. Reeves Forestry

  • Mary Jane Rodger, Medway Community Forest Co-op

  • Mary Tulle, Tourism Nova Scotia

  • Cassie Turple, Ledwidge Lumber

  • Greg Watson, North Nova Forest Owners Co-op Ltd

  • Marcus Zwicker, WestFor

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