March 20, 2012-OTTAWA: After ten years at the helm of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), Avrim Lazar will be retiring to enjoy the next phase of his life.
At the end of the month, he will be replaced on an interim basis as President and CEO by Catherine Cobden, now senior Vice-President of FPAC. Cobden has managed the association’s economic files and led the landmark Biopathways study into how to best transform the forest sector through innovation. A permanent replacement will be in place in September.
“Avrim has been an extraordinary industry leader who has made giant strides in improving the environmental credentials of Canada’s forest products industry and who was pivotal in working with government to lay the groundwork for the sector’s transformation”, says Jim Lopez, the Chairman of the Board at FPAC. “They will be big shoes to fill but Catherine has been an essential player in the success of FPAC and I know she will do a top-notch job over the next six months.”
The Association is the voice of Canada’s wood, pulp and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade and environmental affairs. The industry is one of Canada’s largest employers, operating in 200 forest-dependent communities from coast to coast, and directly employing 240,000 Canadians across the country.
Lazar is known for his leadership role in bringing together industry and environmental groups in the landmark Canadian Boreal Forest agreement, signed in 2010. During an often challenging decade, he also helped the industry develop new markets, new products, new partnerships and new positioning as a player in the emerging bio-economy.
FPAC will be announcing a new vision and new challenge for the sector later this spring to build on the industry’s recent success.
OTTAWA, October 20, 2011
During these perilous economic times, the government must continue its commitment to fiscal responsibility and debt reduction while still taking clear-eyed strategic action to help advance the ongoing transformation and competitiveness of the Canadian forest products industry.
That’s the message delivered today by the President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), Avrim Lazar, who was appearing during pre-budget consultations undertaken by the House of Commons Finance committee.
“We applaud the government for its determined and steady hand on the economy that has resulted in Canada avoiding the sovereign debt crises that have plagued so many other countries,” said Lazar. “Still we feel the economic times dictate the need for modest stimulus. And we believe that stimulus funding should focus on measures that boost competitiveness in the long term. For the forest products industry this translates into a few focused measures that would support penetration of emerging markets, business model innovation and environmental progress.”
Lazar said the government should continue to fund existing programs under the Forest Industry Long Term Competitiveness Strategy. This includes continued support for FPInnovations and for the Leadership for Environmental Advantage in Forestry program (LEAF) which should be broadened to include support for the implementation of the landmark Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. FPAC urges the government to unlock the potential of the $500 million Sustainable Technology Development Canada (STDC) Next Gen Biofuels Fund. By opening it up to other bio-products, this fund can accelerate the transformation of the forest industry.
Finally, FPAC is asking the government to replenish the Investment in Forest Industry Transformation program (IFIT) with $300 million over the next three years. Canadian forest companies had submitted proposals to the original IFIT program worth 52 times the money available. “That speaks to the still untapped transformative potential for Canada’s forest products industry,” said Lazar. “The forest sector has been aggressively re-inventing itself with government as a critical partner. We are now at the point where industry efforts to transform are making an impact. However we still need an ongoing partnership so that industry can build on the existing momentum, and help protect jobs and rural communities.” “We need to move now to accelerate our production of innovative new products such as bio-energy, bio-chemicals and other bio-products or lose out to global competitors whose governments are investing billions in their modernization,” said Lazar. “Either we win the future or risk missing out on promising economic opportunities, falling behind our global competitors, and remaining trapped in the lower-value commodity cycle that put so many jobs and communities at risk.”
FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $57-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2% of Canada’s GDP and is one of Canada’s largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 240,000 direct jobs across the country