Canadian builders protest wood-preference bill

There’s been a backlash of protest in Canada over a bill that calls for the government to use wood when building or renovating its buildings.

According to the Ottawa Citizen in an article posted on Province.com, Bill C-429 went through its first and second readings with little effort then landed at the parliamentary committee where it drew the attention of the construction industry. The bill was intended to boost Quebec’s struggling forestry industry, but was not seen in the same light by people in the industry.

Pat Martin, a member of Parliament representing the country’s New Democratic Party – and a carpenter by trade — was quoted by the Citizen as saying that the bill has "tied Parliament in knots," adding that "MPs couldn’t vote against a bill that supports a product as Canadian as wood — especially coming from Quebec, where thousands of forestry jobs have been lost."

"MPs are painted into a corner. You couldn’t vote against it and now we’re stuck with it," he said. "And I have no qualms saying it’s stupid and we have been hoist on our petard by respecting a parliamentary member and not wanting to offend the forestry industry and Quebec . . . it’s not too often you get two sacred cows in the same bill."

Opponents of the bill say it comes with "a slew of unintended consequences on the markets for other building materials, international and internal trade, federal procurement, and building and fire codes." An opponent of the bill, Stephanie Rea of the Canadian Construction Association, told the Citizen that her group believes the bill "limits the freedom of architects, designers or contractors to select the best material for a building’s use," and giving wood preferential treatment "could push other businesses into bankruptcy and wipe out jobs".

France, Norway and Sweden have similar policies giving preference to wood in public buildings, as does the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia.

Hearings into the bill begin this week.

The original article can be read at: www.theprovince.com.

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