Environmental groups want to axe a member from a government panel because he’s in the business of axing trees.

Jonathan Porter, an executive at pulp and woodcutting company Bowater Mersey Paper Company, currently has a seat on a panel meant to create a new natural resources strategy for the province.

The Ecology Action Centre and Sierra Club of Canada say it’s a conflict of interest to have a paper company executive on a board that will be making recommendations for rules governing paper companies.

 

“Nova Scotians were promised a fair and unbiased public review of natural resources management in this province and this is not it,” Ecology Action Centre spokesman Raymond Plourde said in a press release.

“It is outrageous. The conflict of interest is built-in and obvious. There is no way Mr. Porter can separate the interests of his company from the broader public interest.”

An independent steering group chaired by former Chief Justice Constance Glube picked the 12-member panel.

Environment Minister John MacDonell said he won’t kick Porter off the board because he doesn’t want to micromanage the arms-length group. He said all sides are represented – including at least one member recommended by the Ecology Action Centre – and ultimately the policy will be determined by government.

“When it comes to policy the buck stops with me,” he said. “It’s my intention to see that we do move forward in the 21st century. If I think the forestry strategy might be lacking, I feel I have a role there.”

The Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia sent out a rival release expressing their disappointment on the environmental groups’ “personal attack” on Porter. They said the board was looking for a broad range of interests and expertise in forestry, which Porter’s years of experience provide.