Forestry Hall of Shame Action Group
The front page of the February 28, 1956 Vancouver Sun announces the resignation of Social Credit cabinet minister Robert Sommers, who was convicted in 1959 and spent two years in jail for taking bribes.
ROBERT SOMMERS, who had been BC forests minister until he resigned in 1956 over corruption allegations, was convicted in 1959 of taking bribes from a forestry company. He received a five year sentence and was long considered the benchmark of the darkest depth to which a BC politician could sink. At the time, Vancouver Sun reporter Jack Brooks described Sommers as “the first man in the history of the Commonwealth to be convicted of using a cabinet post to take bribes.”
In the early 21st century, however, Sommers tawdry personal ethical lapses pale in significance to the lies and deceptions promulgated by the ministry of forests and the forestry industry itself. They both portray forestry in BC as “sustainable” and make outlandish claims about how forest removal can be used to mitigate climate change. These deceptions would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous. Logging in BC causes an accelerated release of carbon emissions that is far greater then all other emissions released in BC, including the burning of hydrocarbons. The logging industry is the greatest contributor to climate change and biodiversity collapse in BC.
Sommers was held accountable for his indiscretions, but nowhere is anyone holding accountable the CEOs of logging companies, the politicians who soak up public money and say nothing, and the ministry officials who march in lock-step with their industry masters. Unless these people are held publicly accountable for their irresponsible lack of action on over-exploitation of BC forests, climate change will get worse, biodiversity collapse will accelerate, the flooding and burning of BC communities will continue, fisheries will continue to collapse, and more people will be killed by heat waves, forest fires and pulmonary disease caused by smoke from forest fires and slash burning.
Our forestry hall of shame is open for nominations. We are asking you to play the role of defence lawyers and prosecutors. Make your best case and let the jury of public opinion decide who shall enter the Forestry Hall of Shame.