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  • BC Forestry Hall of Shame

    Evergreen Alliance Staff
    IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW, name an individual or company who you believe has damaged the environment and/or economy of BC as a result of actions taken that have led to—or perpetuated—over-exploitation of BC forests. Please state with as much detail as possible the case for his/her/its induction. Nominations are subject to approval by an awards committee before being made public. 

    Evergreen Alliance Staff
    Wikipedia’s description of the Robert Sommers/BC Forest Products scandal:
    SOMMERS’ DOWNFALL BEGAN when the Liberal opposition, particularly MLA Gordon Gibson accused Sommers of impropriety in the granting of a forest management licence to EP Taylor’s British Columbia Forest Products (BCFP).
    These licences were a new form of tenure in the forests of British Columbia introduced in 1948 based on the 1944 recommendations of the Sloan Commission. Large companies were given cutting rights over Crown land in perpetuity and in exchange were responsible for forest management, construction of access roads and fire fighting. The goal was to provide a sustained yield to supply mills over the long term by giving the licence holder a long-term interest in the productivity of the land. Forest management licences were extremely valuable. There were accusations that companies made huge profits selling shares issued after a licence was granted before a single tree had been cut. E. P. Taylor’s Argus Corporation, which incorporated British Columbia Forest Products to run its BC forest operations in 1946, had been turned down for a forest management licence in 1948. After he became the cabinet minister in charge of granting forest management licences, Sommers, who was then in awkward financial circumstances personally, had meetings with Taylor and the management of Argus at which BCFP sought a licence. Taylor, BC premier WAC Bennett and Sommers met at the Empress Hotel in January 1955. Afterwards, Bennett directed Sommers to make the deal. The result was that BCFP was granted FML #22 which covered 250,000 acres (1,000 km2) between Port Renfrew and Estevan Point along the west coast of Vancouver Island.
    A commission led by Justice Arthur Lord found no basis for the charges and Sommers responded to the accusations by suing Vancouver lawyer David Sturdy for libel. The Bennett government stonewalled in the legislature on the basis that the matter was before the courts until Sommers was dropped from cabinet in 1956. In November 1957 he was arrested and charged with bribery. The next year, he and Wick Gray were convicted. BCFP was acquitted. Sommers was sentenced to 5 years in prison but was released after 28 months. While imprisoned, he learned the piano tuning trade. He established a piano business on Vancouver Island after his release in 1961. Sommers was convicted on five of seven charges of receiving bribes. He was found to have received $607 worth of rugs, $3,000 in bonds, $1,000 in cash and $2,500 sent by telegraph making him the first person in the Commonwealth found guilty of conspiring to accept bribes while serving as a Minister.
    Robert Sommers has long occupied BC’s Forestry Hall of Shame. How does his record compare with other BC forestry officials from industry and government? Feel free to nominate your choice for the dishonour in the comments section below. Based on the quality of the arguments and the strength of the evidence provided, we will open page for new nominees. (You must be registered on this site to leave a comment or make a nomination.)

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