Premier Brian Gallant says he will not try to change the wood supply provisions of contracts signed by the previous Progressive Conservative government with major forestry companies.

hl-brian-gallant

Premier Brian Gallant says his government won't try to change the wood supply agreements struck between the former Progressive Conservative government and industrial forest companies. (CBC)

“We will have to respect many of the contracts that have been signed,” Gallant said Thursday in Question Period.

And he told reporters “it’s a fair conclusion” that that means no changes to wood allocations, which are laid out in the contracts.

The comments come after some mixed messages on the issue.

Gallant promised in last year’s election campaign to seek changes to the forestry contracts signed by the David Alward government.

But Gallant's natural resources minister, Denis Landry, said before Christmas he wanted to avoid lawsuits by forestry companies that might face losses if the agreements were changed.

This week, after Gallant said the overall forestry plan would be changed, Landry said “maybe some things that aren’t major [would change], maybe some things that are major.”

That led to complaints from opposition Progressive Conservative MLAs that the government was creating uncertainty in the forestry sector.

Several companies, including J.D. Irving Ltd., have already launched mill expansions on the premise that they will be able to cut more wood in public forests.

Environmentalists say the new wood allocations are too high and will see an unsustainable level of harvesting.