The environmentalist group Boreal Action, which was put on notice and muzzled by the Ministry of Forests in 2019 for denouncing the blocking of a civil servant, is calling for a major cleanup in this institution, which it deems to be in the pay of the industry.
Published on May 28, 2021
“When we denounced [the director of strategic mandates at the MFFP] Francis Forcier in 2019, I had a bailiff with a formal notice,” denounces veteran environmental activist Henri Jacob.
On Friday, the daily La Presse revealed a series of email exchanges between senior officials at the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Forests prior to the December 2020 announcement, where the Legault government created tens of thousands of square kilometers of protected territories, especially in the north.
These exchanges show that the Ministry of Forests did block the creation of a network of protected areas in the south so as not to reduce the “allowable cut”, as environmentalists have long denounced.
An unacceptable veto
Forcier’s successor as liaison with the Ministry of the Environment, Steeve Audet, is named in the report.
“I must say that questioning 3.376% of territories agreed upon between our organizations and the regional community for sometimes close to 10 years, at this point, seems risky to me,” writes Assistant Deputy Minister of Sustainable Development Jacob Martin-Malus to Steeve Audet.
“Steeve Audet seems to have the same attitude. All these emails are exactly what we were denouncing. The way the Ministry of Forestry uses an administrative veto, it is unacceptable, “he laments.
In 2019, the organization quoted sources to say that the Ministry of Forestry was blocking the process of creating 83 protected area projects – which ultimately never saw the light of day – including by refusing to give simple forest maps.
“They don’t respond, they delay, they don’t provide the information they should. Instead of being done in 2-3-4 years, a protected area could take 10-15 years,” he says.
“We were right”.
But the organization’s exit is not well received: boreal Action loses a voice on the issue of protecting the woodland caribou.
“We were right,” he says.
He says that today, several officials of the Ministry of Forestry in the regions of Quebec are downright embarrassed by the turn of events.
“For 10 years, we negotiated to arrive at these projects for 83 protected areas. And finally, in the bunker, they decided that it was not done. The people we see today say that they too were screwed,” he says.