Kamloops-North Thompson NDP candidate Kathy Kendall should explain or retract and apologize for remarks she made about raw log exports, B.C. Liberal candidate Terry Lake said on Tuesday.
Lake said that comments Kendall made during an all-candidates forum in Barriere show she doesn't understand the region's forest industry.
Kendall criticized raw log exports - a perennial complaint that the NDP is promising to act upon - and suggested they have hurt the local economy, a claim she made at the Kamloops forum the day before.
Challenged on that point by Carman Smith, a local mill operator, Kendall said she sees raw logs going down the road on trucks. She did not elaborate.
Those trucks Kendall sees are heading for mills in Adams Lake, Barriere and other local operations, Lake noted.
"Barriere and our region deserve better than an NDP candidate who does not understand one of the most important economic delivers of the region and the province," Lake said.
Kendall acknowledged that she was mistaken on the local impact of raw log exports, which are more significant in coastal and northern forest regions.
However, she stood by her criticism of Liberal government forest policy.
"We have to look at the Liberal record on forestry and Terry doesn't want to look at that," she said, pointing to the closure of more than 40 mills and loss of 30,000 jobs in the past decade. At the same time, the Liberal government slashed its forest budget and plans to cut another $35 million in 2013-14.
Kendall said she spoke with Smith on the topic after the forum.
"He said afterwards that they do export raw logs (to the United States); he took exception with my suggestion that they go overseas."
Lake cited statistics that suggest that raw logs in the southern Interior represent only 0.2 per cent of the total harvest and less than one per cent of total log exports.