Mr. Speaker, on November 3, I asked the following question in the House:
I rise in the House once again to ask the Minister of Natural Resources about his plans to stop the pine beetle from attacking our [Canadian] forests.
Last year alone, the beetle increased tenfold. Even though science and research has been done, the beetle has moved from Jasper Park into central Alberta and is heading east. All of Canada's pine forests are at risk. We need financial assistance to cull the trees.
What is the Liberal government doing to stop this infestation?
Again, I am going to ask a similar question. When is the Liberal government going to step up to the plate? Last week we received an answer that it was doing science and research. I rise again to say that science and research are not applicable at this time. Why is that? We know all about the pine beetle. Science and research have been done for many years. I was there when the pine beetle was first spotted in western British Columbia in the late 1970s. If proper action had been taken then, and the trees culled or burned, I probably would not be asking the question again today.
Our boreal forests are at risk. What is needed from the minister is financial aid. Even the former Liberal government, in 2005, recognized the problem and gave $100 million to fight the pine beetle when it was still in British Columbia. Did science and research stop it? No, they did not. Did we stop the pine beetle? No, we did not.
The Government of Alberta has spent over $85 million to fight the infestation, and that funding helped slow the pine beetle, until this year. This is a drop in the bucket compared to $9 billion in damages, fighting costs, and loss of production that the fire in Fort McMurray caused, or the untold millions that it cost to fight the B.C. fires this year. Those fires were fed by dead pine forests, due to the pine beetle.
Our previous Conservative government gave $10 million in 2009 to fight the pine beetle in northwestern Alberta. The Fort McMurray fire last year helped destroy a large amount of the northern pine beetle, but unfortunately, it destroyed a lot more than that. We all saw that on the news.
I remember going to a pine beetle seminar where scientists told me the pine beetles would never get across the Rocky Mountains. They have gone way across.
During adjournment debate on October 26, I once again called on the federal government to assist Alberta in the fight against the mountain pine beetle. Companies like Weyerhaeuser, Millar Western, and West Fraser have spent millions of dollars of their own money to combat the pine beetle.
I have held meetings and round table discussions with park officials, CFS officials, as well as representatives from forestry and local communities. Parks Canada kept telling us it was going to try to cull the trees. Very little was done.
What do we need? The minister of forestry and agriculture for the Province of Alberta told me 10 days ago that they need financial help. We need need financial assistance now to cull the trees. The beetles killed 40,000 trees last year while we were holding them at bay, between the industry and the province, but it has increased tenfold to more than 500,000 this year. The pine beetle is out of control.
Again, what is the Minister of Natural Resources going to do to stop the pine beetle from attacking our forests? We have moved and must move faster than the pine beetle before it is too late for all of Canada.