Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak for a moment or two about a question which I asked the Minister of Natural Resources on November 6. It concerns forestry practices and the issue of forest certification.
At first blush, I am sure members would think this is not that important an issue. However, as we look at our history and our country we realize that Canada is a forest nation. We possess over 10 per cent of the world's forests, forests which provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, forests that are places for citizens of Canada to visit in their leisure time and forests that are important parts of our social and cultural history. For many people, forests are synonymous with Canada.
On the economic side, the Canadian forest industry is one of Canada's largest and, accordingly, most important industries. It provides for one in fifteen jobs. It produces exports which are by far the single largest contributor to Canada's positive trade balance.
Forests and forest industries are found in every province and are critically important to every Canadian. Sometimes we do not stop to think about it but even as we look around the Chamber, the contribution that the forestry industry makes to the beauty and enhancement of this Chamber becomes evident.
As a trading nation, we need access to foreign markets. In the world we live in we also need to demonstrate to our customers that we are good custodians of our forests.
The question of sustainable forest management is paramount to Canadian interests. Our ability to manage our forests in a sustainable manner for all of their benefits is important for every Canadian. I know that provinces are continually reviewing and upgrading their forest policies to achieve sustainable forestry and it is ultimately their responsibility under the British North America Act to manage the forests because they are a provincial responsibil-
ity. I also know that Canadian industry has made great strides in improving the standards of forest management in Canada.
I would like to ask the minister, through the parliamentary secretary, why it is that Canada continues to be criticized for its forest management practices. I understand that the Canadian forest industry has been active in developing a standard for certification of Canadian forest practices. What will the impact of forest certification be on the sustainable forest management in Canada? Will certification move Canada toward achieving sustainable forestry and will it help the Canadian forest industry to be more competitive in world markets?