Monday, December 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by Oldmaison
Last year, I refuse to blog question period because it's all BS anyway but some people wanted to post the questions in this blog. got it!!!! I'm not going to space it because it makes me sick just reading it!!!

These MLA'S need to take their ritalin!!!


November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
Pulp and Paper Mills
Mr. Volpé: My question is for the Premier this morning. I hope he is the same this morning. I know
that a few years ago, he made a comment that it was easier to keep a mill open than to reopen one.
We have reopened one, so I am hoping that he will do the same. My question, Mr. Premier, is: What
is your plan to replace those good, paying jobs for the Dalhousie area? There were all kinds of
commitments made for the Miramichi area: Dalhousie, UPM, Blackville, even Juniper. There was
even a commitment to reopen the Bathurst mill, and we know what the result is today. My question
is: What is your plan to replace those jobs? You have been aware for over a year now that that mill
would close.
Hon. S. Graham:

Click more to read the rest!!!

I want to begin this morning by thanking the Leader of the Opposition. I read his
comments this morning in the paper; they were very temperate and quite constructed.
“People are hurting up there, but I am sure the Liberals did whatever they could,”. Volp/ said. “I
wouldn’t say they did anything wrong. There is only so much government can do. You can’t
subsidize a big company like that. This wasn’t their fault.”
It is that open-mindedness that I respect in the debate today, because it is important that we now
look to the future.
This mill was hit by the new market realities of today. The fact is, our government tried very hard
to keep this mill open, to invest in new technologies. In fact, we offered the mill $10 million of a
$22-million project to put in place a new bleach line to increase the value of the paper that was being
produced. The company made a decision not to accept that offer. I worked diligently, right up to the
eleventh hour, with the owners of the mill to attempt to persuade them to invest in New Brunswick.
That being said, the decision was made, and now we must look to the future.
026 11:50
Last night, I had the opportunity to talk to the Mayor of Dalhousie, Clem Tremblay, as well as the
member for Restigouche. All members are being impacted today by this decision. We will work
very hard. I am going to take a little bit more time today, if allowed, because it is very important that
we look at the communities that have been hit. In the Miramichi region, our government worked
with companies such as Atcon to help diversify the economy in creating a new steel manufacturing
centre of excellence. When the mill closed in the Bathurst region, we worked with Blue Note Metals
to see a substantial increase in the mining industry, and to reopen a vacated mine.
We are going to have to now sit down with the leaders in the community. We are going to have to
work diligently. I can say that we will work to overcome this challenge that has been presented to
our province today.
November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
Mr. Volpé: As the Premier said, I am sure they did whatever they could to save the mill. My
question was, What are you doing for the employees? I could not get an answer on this one. If you
want to go back to Miramichi and say what you have done, the mill was not closed, and we also
opened a plywood mill in Miramichi a few years ago.
The Premier does not seem to have a plan, even though he has known, for over a year, that the mill
would close. I have said it before. I was there a few weeks ago. Somebody asked me about the mill,
and I said: I do not wish for this, but I think it will close. I have seen some numbers, which the
Premier has seen too, and I knew it would close. It is now closed. If the Premier does not have any
plans to save the jobs or do something for those people, can he at least tell the people here, and
across the province, if he has a plan to save the wood that was at that mill?
Hon. S. Graham: Clearly, today the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
stated that he would like the federal government to extend the pilot project, to allow an extra five
weeks of employment insurance benefits to be granted to the affected workers in the region. That
program is currently in existence. We are asking the federal government now to extend that
program, when it is about to expire, to help those affected workers. That is the first step.
It is much more than just that. Our government is working with the entire forest industry. In fact,
the Minister of Business New Brunswick will be making a major announcement for an investment
for equipment for AV Cell in the Campbellton region. We are also in negotiations today with
Frasers. We sat down with that company to look at ways that we can see a substantianl investment,
which government can help cost share, for new equipment in the Fraser organization. We are also
in negotiations, as we speak, with Flakeboard. There is an opportunity for investment in new
equipment that will decrease the resin costs.
We are actively at the table with a number of these large forest companies, and our sawmills. Again,
we are faced with the new market realities. The rising value of the Canadian dollar, along with low
housing starts in the US, has had a dramatic impact on the forestry sector. Yesterday, the
announcement that the town of Dalhousie was going to see the closure of a mill that had been in
operation for over 80 years was devastating news. That is why we are going to work diligently now
to help diversify the economy, as we have done in other regions of the province, to help overcome
the challenges presented to our province today.
Mr. Volpé: The answer is that you are not ready to protect the wood volume, because you have a
policy in place that says it can be moved from one region to the other. If I were the minister and the
MLA for that region, I would be concerned.
We know, as the Premier has just said, that the impact is on more than just the mill itself. My next
question is for the Minister of Energy: What will the impact be for that loss of revenue, because
probably one of the largest power consumers in the province is going down? It usually buys over
$40 million of power a year, I am told. What will be the impact on NB Power? What is the potential
November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
impact on consumer rates? What is the potential impact of closing some power plants in this
province? I hope it will not be the one in Dalhousie.
Hon. Mr. Keir: I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition. He is dead right. There are
absolute impacts to NB Power and electricity generation in New Brunswick. There is roughly 110
MW of usage by the Bowater plant. It will have an impact on NB Power. They are working those
numbers now, as to exactly how it will affect all rates of consumers, and how they are going to
balance that load, moving into the future. When we have that plan, I would be more than willing to
share it with the Leader of the Opposition.
027 11:55
Mr. Volpé: Again, for the Minister of Energy, knowing that this year was probably a record year
for buying power from outside New Brunswick, there were quite a few power plants that were not
running at full speed this summer, I would say. Now, over and above that . . . My question is this:
Which power plants are you planning to close? You know those numbers. Some of them will have
to close if we do not sell the power somewhere. Which ones will be on the list? Would that be the
lousy one, because it is a small one? There are three in Saint John that are producing exactly the
same product. Are you planning to close this one?
Hon. Mr. Keir: As I said to the Leader of the Opposition, NB Power is looking at balancing the
load right now. It would certainly be uncharacteristic of this House today . . . If you are going to start
fearmongering about more jobs in Dalhousie, I think that is shameful. The fact of the matter is that
NB Power is now looking at those load balances, and as soon as a plan is in place, we will certainly
bring it to the House.
Mr. Volpé: I am not fearmongering. I asked the CEO of NB Power the same question in committee.
The answer was that it could always be a backup plant. I have it on record. A backup plant is
something you start up at minus 25° in January. That is a backup plant. This is not a baseload plant.
That is why I was asking the question. I think those people from that region have had enough
hardship, and maybe you should do your job and tell NB Power that, if it wants to close some plants,
it might look somewhere else. My only concern is for the people themselves.
Hon. Mr. Keir: The Leader of the Opposition, in that committee, fearmongered that day as well.
David Hay and I went up to Dalhousie shortly after that to assure the folks in Dalhousie that their
plant was not closing down. It was shameful back then, and it is absolutely shameful today.
Mr. Volpé: I would ask the minister to go back to what was said on that day, and I said it to the
mayor. It will not close tomorrow morning, because Point Lepreau will be going down, and they
need power in the interim, for a year and a half or two years. What I am saying is that I am
concerned that after two years . . . The CEO did confirm that, after two years, they will have to
review it, and if they have to close a plant, that one could become a backup plant. Read what was
said at that time before you make a comment, sir.
November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
Hon. S. Graham: I think it is important today to add constructively to the debate that our
government is taking proactive action. Clearly, the Dalhousie plant has an integral role to play in
the distribution and generation of electricity. The Minister of Business New Brunswick is working
proactively with a number of the larger mills in the province today. The Fraser mill, located in the
member’s own riding, has come to government with a proactive plan that we are now evaluating for
how we can improve efficiencies within the mill to have long-term sustainability and stability in that
region. The same is also occurring with Flakeboard. There is an opportunity to upgrade equipment
that will allow that company to see dramatic savings on the resin costs within that operation.
This is a nonpartisan issue today. This transcends political lines. We are saying today that we are
working with all stakeholders. There are challenges, but, as a province, we will overcome those
Mill Closures
Mr. Ashfield: My question today is for the Minister of Natural Resources. In the last session, the
minister introduced a new policy of dismantling rural mills and moving allocations from rural
communities. With the announcement today of the permanent closure of Bowater, what is your
intent for the allocation from that mill?
Hon. Mr. Arseneault: Thank you for that question. Of course, that was quite disturbing news
yesterday for all of us here, as well as me personally. Bowater, as a licensee, does have a legal
responsibility to manage the license, and we want to make sure that it continues to do so. We will
be sitting down shortly to see the future plans that Bowater has to manage that license. We want to
make sure that, just like in the Miramichi, the wood flows back to those sublicensees. There are a
lot of other jobs that are very important to this sector under this license, and we want to make sure
that we do everything we can to maintain those jobs.
028 12:00
Mr. Ashfield: I thank the minister—I think. I did not really hear an answer to my question. The
policy of our government was to temporarily assign allocations in the event of a mill closure for a
period of up to three to five years, in anticipation of finding a new owner or operator of a particular
mill that was affected, whether by closure, temporary shutdown, or whatever the case may be. I
would like to know what your position is in this case. Are you going to reassign the allocations
permanently, or are you going to temporarily assign the allocations equally across the industry, to
both the licensees and sublicensees, as has been the practice in the past?
Hon. Mr. Arseneault: I am glad the member opposite has made the comment about the past.
Definitely, as in other situations in New Brunswick, sometimes we do have to temporarily reallocate
some allocations. You are the member who, a couple of months ago, was against the transfer of the
Juniper allocation over to the Irvings so Fraser can still get its wood chips. At the end of the day,
November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
you do have to make those difficult decisions in order to maintain as much employment as you can.
Today, I am glad to see that you do support that type of action.
Mr. Ashfield: Again, the minister did not answer the question. I asked if you are going to
permanently reassign the allocation, or are you going to assign it temporarily, as has been the
practice in the past, to both the licensees and sublicensees on an equal basis? I would like to have
an answer to that question.
Hon. Mr. Arseneault: The member opposite, the former Minister of Natural Resources, knows full
well that I cannot transfer these allocations permanently. There is a legal obligation that the licensee
does have that license at least for the year. We just found out at 4:30 yesterday. In the meantime,
we do have to sit down with the company to see what the plans are. If there are opportunities to
temporarily reallocate some of the wood in that region or in other regions, we will do that. At the
end of day, our main concern is the employees, as well as making sure that the wood flows back to
other users in the area.
Mr. Volpé: We have a problem this morning, because the minister does not know the difference
between a license and wood allocation. The question asked by the member is this: What will you
do with the access to the wood? The license is the management plan, but there is the access to the
wood. This is the volume we are talking about. Are you ready to keep it within the community for
some time, or will you use your policy to move it somewhere else in the province? That is the
Hon. S. Graham: The former Minister of Natural Resources and Energy must be well aware of the
legal obligations of the Crown Lands and Forests Act, which states that a licensee has a one-year
period of not utilizing wood before the government can make a decision on redistribution. There is
a one-year period that is in existence now, under a legal obligation under the Crown Lands and
Forests Act, which very clearly must be met.
Temporary allocations can occur in the one-year period. Our government will look at making sure
that the wood flows to keep the economy in the region vibrant. Today, we have a challenge. Chaleur
Sawmills is going to be facing a challenge because it was selling chips to Bowater to offset the
decrease in the lumber costs. Today, there is no opportunity to sell chips to that mill. We have to
make sure that mills such as Chaleur have an opportunity to sell their chips to be able to remain open
in the community. Those are the options that we are actively pursuing now. I will be talking to the
Chaleur company later today.
Mr. Volpé: Even the Premier is confused this morning. The government has already put a policy
in place that when a mill closes, a formal closure, it is closed. The government can now move the
wood allocation from one region to another region. That was not there before. The owner said this
morning that the plan is to shut the mill down, which means that it will not reopen. The question is
very simple. Will you use your policy—as I have called it before, a stupid policy—to move the
wood allocation from one community to another community, or from one region to another region?
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It is a very simple question. Will you allow your policy to move that wood allocation that was
attached, or can you guarantee that it will stay in the community? It is a very simple question.
Hon. S. Graham: I want to be clear on this today. It is no longer one community in New Brunswick
versus another community. It is New Brunswick competing against the world. The Leader of the
Opposition is having a difficult time today to understand that the market conditions have changed
029 12:05
Because of these changing market conditions, we have to be innovative, and we have to look at ways
to invest in new technologies and new equipment. Our government was actively at the table with
Bowater, right up to the 11th hour, even offering to invest in a substantial new investment for a new
paper machine. Bowater made a decision not to keep this operation open, due to the decreased
demand for newsprint. Today, a number of sawmills in the region rely, as sublicensees, on that wood
allocation and on the sale of chips to keep their operations viable. I want to be very clear on this. As
we continue to work with the sublicensees, we will be making sure that the flow of wood remains
in New Brunswick to the best of our ability, to allow all our mills to be competitive.
M. Mockler : Ma question s’adresse au premier ministre du Nouveau-Brunswick.
Mr. Premier, you should stop talking from both sides of your mouth. Mr. Premier, you should be
straightforward with the people of New Brunswick. Mr. Premier, stop dancing with your words.
Ce matin, les gens de Restigouche-Chaleur sont désespérés, démoralisés et choqués. Noël 2007 sera
terrible pour ces familles. Les exemples démontrent aujourd’hui que le premier ministre du
Nouveau-Brunswick fait volte-face et qu’il n’est pas sérieux. Au Forum sur l’avenir de l’industrie
forestière au Restigouche, qui s’est tenu le 21 novembre 2007, la semaine dernière, le ministre des
Ressources naturelles, de Dalhousie, et le premier ministre n’étaient pas présents. Aucun
parlementaire du côté du gouvernement n’était présent. C’est une honte. Les maires du Restigouche
demandent des rencontres avec le premier ministre du Nouveau-Brunswick. On n’entend pas parler
de lui. Les chambres de commerce demandent des rencontres.
Le premier ministre confirmera-t-il aux chambres de commerce, surtout celle de Kedgwick, qu’il
les rencontrera pour parler de la qualité de vie et de la sauvegarde de l’industrie forestière du
Nouveau-Brunswick, surtout dans la région de Restigouche-Chaleur?
Hon. S. Graham: It is unfortunate that, when the ideas from the official opposition start to run dry,
the personal insults start. That is what we are seeing this morning. In fact, the member for
Madawaska-la-Vallée is in direct contradiction with his own leader, who stated this morning:
“People are hurting up there, but I am sure the Liberals did whatever they could . . . I wouldn’t say
they did anything wrong. There is only so much government can do. You can’t subsidize a big
company like that. This wasn’t their fault”. Yet, you are contradicting your leader today. It is very
November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
clear that, if the member for Madawaska-la-Vallée can only stand up in this House, yell, scream, and
use tactics that will not lead constructively to the debate, then I would ask that we have more
decorum for the people who are most affected today, the people who have lost their jobs in that
Mr. Mockler: Once again, I want to correct the Premier. I am the MLA for Restigouche-la-Vallée,
not Madawaska-la-Vallée. Wake up, Mr. Premier.
Je vais vous poser une deuxième question ce matin. Lorsqu’on regarde les gens de Restigouche-la-
Vallée — et non ce que vous confondez avec Madawaska-la-Vallée — les gens chez nous sont des
travailleuses et des travailleurs acharnés. Ce sont des travailleurs et des travailleuses qui n’ont pas
peur de rouler leurs manches et leurs pantalons et de faire du travail. Ce sont des gens qui sont fiers
d’avoir choisi de vivre dans la région de Restigouche-la-Vallée. Les gens de Kedgwick, Saint-Jean-
Baptiste-de-Restigouche, Saint-Quentin, Saint-Martin-de-Restigouche et toute la vallée — nous
sommes inquiets ce matin. Rapport après rapport…
Royalties for hardwood . . . I hope you will give me some flexibility, as much as you gave the
Premier, on this issue. When you compare the sawlogs . . .
Mr. Speaker: Time.
030 12:10
Le président : Le député…
Le président : Monsieur le député, asseyez-vous. Que vous vous battiez ne me dérange pas, mais
que vous questionniez l’autorité de la présidence me dérange énormément. Si cela se produit une
deuxième fois, je vais vous demander de sortir de la Chambre.
Mr. Premier, did you wish to answer?
Hon. S. Graham: It is important to note today that our government is working proactively with
companies such as Groupe Savoie in Saint-Quentin. In fact, I recently met with the owner of Groupe
Savoie. We put together a number of proposals to help offset a number of issues facing that
company pertaining to hardwood. Today, as the member knows, the Bowater operation pertains to
softwood. There are two different issues here today.
I did not get a question. I can say that we have been meeting. Cabinet has made a decision to help
the hardwood sawmill operators in New Brunswick, pertaining to royalty rates. They have been
November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
informed, and are very receptive as well. We are working diligently with a number of the
companies, one-on-one. In fact, just to reiterate, we are in active negotiations today with the CEO
of Frasers, to see a multi-million investment in that company, to bring long-term sustainability to
the region by investing in new equipment.
M. Mockler : Puis-je poser ma dernière question?
Le président : Posez votre dernière question.
M. Mockler : Merci beaucoup, Monsieur le président. Je ne veux certainement pas questionner
l’autorité du président.
The Premier is very selective about who he meets. He has not met with the union president of
Bowater in Dalhousie. He has avoided all the representatives of the workers. However, he has met
with the CEO of AbitibiBowater, Mr. Patterson, but not the unions. When the Premier had the
discussion with Mr. Patterson, knowing what impact it will have on the families of the Restigouche
Chaleur area, and especially the Dalhousie area, and when he talked about power rates, can he
apprise this House what he offered? You were appraised that, with the refurbishment of Point
Lepreau, their power bill could move from appoximately $40 million to $120 million.
Hon. S. Graham: In our discussions with Bowater, our government released a comprehensive plan.
The first step in addressing the issue of power rates last Christmas was reducing the property tax
requirements on the facility. That was the first step. Our government wanted to take a much more
proactive step. That is why we asked the company to look at a number of value-added opportunities.
There was a possibility to see a new bleaching process that would increase the value of the
newsprint being produced at the mill. Our government was that committed to the project that we
committed up to $10 million under the strategic investment fund, to offset the $22-million
investment. The company made a decision, at the final moment, not to proceed with that route. We
have taken a number of proactive steps.
I want to come back to meeting with the union membership. I have visited that mill twice,
personally. I have met with the workers, personally. In fact, this summer I met with the union
membership in the Miramichi region, from UPM-Kymmene. We continue to meet with stakeholders.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Premier, time.
L’hon. P. Robichaud : Ce qui est inquiétant dans ce dossier ce matin, c’est de voir le manque de
connaissance du ministre des Ressources naturelles et du premier ministre dans ce dossier
extrêmement important. C’est très inquiétant. On peut voir que le gouvernement est en mode de
gestion de crise aujourd’hui. Le ministre des Entreprises Nouveau-Brunswick a pris la peine d’écrire
un plein paragraphe dans un document de ce matin pour dire que la fermeture de l’usine n’est pas
attribuable au premier ministre Graham, que le premier ministre a déployé lui-même des efforts en
vu de relever les défis qu’affrontait l’usine à Dalhousie et que, à plusieurs reprises et pas plus tard
November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
qu’hier, le premier ministre a communiqué directement avec le président-directeur général
d’AbitibiBowater. C’est une chose de communiquer ; c’en est autre de persuader. Le premier
ministre n’a pas réussi à persuader l’entreprise AbitibiBowater de garder ses opérations ouvertes à
Dalhousie. Ce n’est pas d’hier que nous informons le gouvernement de la situation que soit affronter
l’industrie des pâtes et papiers et toute l’industrie forestière du Nouveau-Brunswick.
031 12:15
Ma question au premier ministre ce matin est la suivante : va-t-il finalement accepter la requête de
l’opposition officielle d’avoir un débat d’urgence qui est extrêmement nécessaire pour l’avenir de
l’industrie forestière au Nouveau-Brunswick? Après cette mauvaise nouvelle, le premier ministre
va-t-il finalement accepter la demande de l’opposition officielle, oui ou non?
Hon. S. Graham: It is up to the Speaker to decide whether or not the debate is in order. The
member for Lamèque-Shippagan-Miscou is in total contradiction of his own leader’s statements this
morning. The Leader of the Opposition, who understands the complexity of the forest industry, very
clearly stated: “People are hurting up there, but I am sure the Liberals did whatever they could . . .
I wouldn’t say they did anything wrong. There is only so much government can do. You cannot
subsidize a big company like that. This wasn’t their fault”.
I worked actively on this file. I was in constant negotiations. I was in Montréal, two weeks ago, to
meet with the vice-president. I had the CEO in my office last week. I also met with him in
Washington on one occasion, actively stating that the province of New Brunswick was willing to
be at the table and willing to invest substantially to upgrade the paper machines of that facility. We
even submitted correspondence to reinforce that so that the shareholders would be fully informed
when making a decision to restructure and so that New Brunswick was on the radar screen as an area
to do investment. Sadly, that route was not taken. I agree today with the member opposite . . .
Mr. Speaker: Time, Premier.
M. P. Robichaud : Ce matin, il est évident que le présent gouvernement est en gestion de crise. Ce
n’est pas comme si cette nouvelle était d’une grande surprise pour les parlementaires du côté du
gouvernement. Comment se fait-il que c’était une surprise pour eux, alors qu’ils ont pris le temps
d’offrir jusqu’à 10 millions de dollars et une réduction de 5 millions de dollars en frais d’énergie?
Toutefois, ils viennent de nous dire qu’il s’agit d’une grande surprise pour eux.
Le premier ministre a failli à sa tâche comme négociateur en chef de la province pour ce qui est de
convaincre AbitibiBowater de maintenir ses activités à Dalhousie. Ce n’est pas plus compliqué que
cela. Il n’est pas un bon négociateur pour le Nouveau-Brunswick. Sachant à quoi l’industrie
forestière doit faire face, le premier ministre va-t-il donner son appui ainsi que celui de son
gouvernement à notre requête, qui était la même que celle du printemps dernier, c’est-à-dire de
mettre en place un comité et de regarder à l’ensemble de l’industrie forestière? Combien de scieries
et d’emplois le Nouveau-Brunswick devra-t-il perdre avant que le premier ministre réagisse à la
November 30, 2007 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 30 novembre 2007
gravité de la situation et accepte les demande de l’opposition officielle? Va-t-il accepter notre
proposition, oui ou non?
Hon. S. Graham: May I remind the member opposite that this is not a situation that is unique to
New Brunswick. The Premier of British Columbia and the Premier of Quebec are also facing the
same challenges with the decision of AbitibiBowater to close down mills in those two respective
provinces. Our government is taking action. That is why we are working with companies such as
Flakeboard, Fraser, JDI, and the list goes on with a number of sawmills in the province as well. We
want to see long-term sustainability for investments, new technology, and new equipment to
overcome these market challenges.
I took an active role in the negotiation process, because I wanted to make sure that New Brunswick
was represented. I accept the responsibility today that we worked as hard as we possibly could. That
is why we are going to continue to work with companies such as AV Cell, which is going to be
making a significant announcement in Campbellton this Monday. However, I want to be very clear.
The CEO of Bowater commented today in the newspaper that we were at the table, actively trying
our best. Those were his comments, and I respect that. For the member opposite to insinuate that it
was political spin does not add constructively to the debate today.
Le président : Malheureusement, le temps pour les questions orales est écoulé.

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