New Brunswick

Miramichi mill CFO disavows criticism of J.D. Irving

The chief financial officer of Miramichi Lumber Products Inc. has disavowed comments he made last week about J.D. Irving Ltd. and Fornebu.

Hal Raper says he never meant to imply forestry companies taking mill's Crown allocations

An official with Miramichi Lumber Products Inc. has disavowed comments he made last week about two large forestry companies operating in New Brunswick, J.D. Irving Ltd. and Fornebu.

Hal Raper, the company's chief financial officer, sent a fax to CBC News last Friday afternoon saying he never meant to imply that Irving was taking some of Miramichi Lumber’s allocation of trees from Crown lands.

"I acknowledge J.D. Irving Ltd. is not taking any of Miramichi Lumber Products’ Crown allocations," he wrote in the statement.

Miramichi Lumber Products closed on Friday, throwing 110 employees out of work.

A week ago, Raper blamed the provincial government for not properly enforcing rules on how wood is used from Licence 3, the Crown forest around Miramichi that is harvested by Fornebu.

He said that was why Miramichi Lumber wasn’t getting enough wood and was being forced to shut down temporarily.

Asked where the wood was going, Raper said: "That’s somewhat of a shell game. Some of that wood, they’re cutting bigger wood to use in their [Fornebu’s] stud mill rather than cut it into saw logs, and some of the saw logs are going to Irving in Chipman."

Irving strongly objected to Raper’s comments, and Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup refused to allocate any additional wood to Miramichi Lumber.

Northrup agreed with Irving and Fornebu that Miramichi Lumber has not harvested most of its allocation and urged the company to cut its remaining 120,000 cubic metres.

In his fax on Friday, Raper said he did not mean to imply "that employees of Miramichi Lumber Products were losing their jobs because J.D. Irving Limited had wrongfully taken the Miramichi Lumber Crown allocation."

He said that Irving wasn’t taking his allocation, that Irving had its own allocation on Licence 3 that it had a right to, and that Irving had been trading wood chips for saw logs with Miramichi Lumber.

He concluded: "I have agreed I will not make any unsupported statements regarding J.D. Irving Limited."