The CEO of Resolute Forest Products says the public and communities across northwestern Ontario need to get involved in decisions made about forestry.

Richard Garneau spoke at a forum, organized by the company, at Lakehead University Tuesday night.

About 150 people attended the meeting — many of whom said they support the company's vision for the future.

Bryan Collins, a chemical engineering student at Lakehead said he, and many of his classmates, have found work in forestry.

"We've grown up here and we would like to continue to work here.”


Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield. (Supplied)

​Garneau noted the forums are meant to generate interest in forestry, and lobby the province to allow communities to have a voice on forestry-related decisions.

Garneau repeatedly spoke about the need for a stable wood supply.

"Our access to a long term — also predictable — supply of fibre is fundamental to the viability of the sector, and if we want to continue to attract investment."

'Outright lies'

The other main topic was ensuring environmental groups do not dominate any forestry discussion.

Garneau said environmental groups, like Greenpeace, are making an impact that will hurt the company's ability to operate. 

He added the kraft mill in Thunder Bay recently lost an order for 40,000 tonnes of product, and blamed the environmental group for the outcome.

"The [environmental] campaign has had an impact. The activists are not accountable for their actions ."

If the orders continue to dry up, workers will be affected, Garneau said.

​Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield was the most passionate speaker of the night.

"I have seen the propaganda, the ideology and the misinformation and ... outright lies over the years,” he said.

“It's pretty hard to stomach when you're fighting to keep your community alive."

The forum continues tonight with another session in Atikokan.