Dianne Watts. (Matt Borck photo)

Former politicians named to Canfor board

Also reports modest financial improvement

  • May. 15, 2019 12:00 a.m.

Two former provincial politicians were re-elected to Canfor’s board of directors at the company’s May 1 annual general meeting.

Dianne Watts, who had been Surrey mayor from 2005 to 2014 and the Conservative Member of Parliament for the South Surrey-White Rock riding from 2015 to 2017, was first elected to the board in June 2018.

Her 2017 resignation as a Member of Parliament was followed by a bid to become the leader of the B.C. Liberals but she was unsuccessful when party members eventually chose Andrew Wilkinson instead.

Also re-elected is Glen Clark, who was the New Democratic Party of B.C. premier from 1996 to 1999 and who previously held a variety of cabinet postings following the NDP election victory in 1991.

After leaving provincial politics Clark took a position with The Jim Pattison Group and is now its president and chief operational officer with a variety of responsibilities within that company and its holdings.

Clark was first elected to the Canfor board in 2009.

The Jim Pattison Group owns more than 30 per cent of Canfor’s shares.

Also re-elected to the board is another former politician, this time from federal politics.

John Baird served three terms as a Member of Parliament from Ontario and held key cabinet posts under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in the early part of the decade.

He was first elected to the Canfor board in 2016.

The May 1 board elections come as the company reported a 2019 first quarter operating loss of $69.9 million, an improvement, it said, of $9.2 million from the operating loss of $79.1 million reported for the fourth quarter of 2018.

A Canfor release called the loss reduction a “modest increase in financial performance” due to its acquisition of 70 per cent of the Swedish forestry products company the Vida Group.

And it follows temporary closures of its mills in B.C., including the one here in Houston, over the past six months due to high costs and low lumber prices.

“While our B.C.-based lumber business experienced significant challenges due to lower than anticipated market prices and difficult operating conditions, our U.S. South and European operations generated solid financial returns,” said company chief executive officer Don Kayne.

The company said it will continue to monitor “the market conditions through the second quarter and take appropriate steps should market conditions not improve as anticipated.”

It noted that its B.C. operating costs will increase when stumpage rates rise as of July 1, a factor that will add pressure to the company’s performance should there not be an increase in lumber prices.

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