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submitted 4 weeks ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Written by Robert Dimitrieff, chief executive officer of Patriot Forge Co., a metalworking company in Canada. He also serves on the International Economic Policy Council of the C.D. Howe Institute.

In the shadow of escalating global conflicts and the pressing demand for military supplies, a critical component of national security is being overlooked: the strategic importance of pulp and paper. Traditionally seen as mundane commodities, these materials are in fact pivotal in the production of military-grade components such as nitrocellulose, a key ingredient in artillery ammunition.

Canada, home to vast tracts of forest, has long been a powerhouse in pulp and paper production. Yet, recent developments raise concerns about national security.

The March, 2023, acquisition of Resolute Forest Products by privately held Paper Excellence – among other purchases of Canadian producers by parties related to foreign corporations, notably from China – places these essential resources under the control of overseas interests.

Paper Excellence, despite being based in British Columbia, is controlled by a member of a Chinese-Indonesian business dynasty and has already amassed a sizable share of Canada’s forest products industry. While Paper Excellence denies this, a whistle-blower has called the company’s rapid North American expansion since 2007 a “fibre grab” for China in an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 39 media outlets, including the CBC and Glacier Media.

NDP MP Charlie Angus raised concerns about this issue during a meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources back in March, 2023. I could not agree more with his assertion.

The fact is this shift not only threatens to redirect essential supplies during crises but also exposes Canada to geopolitical vulnerabilities.

Nitrocellulose, or guncotton, is produced primarily from wood pulp and is critical for producing smokeless gunpowder used in military ammunition. Currently, China dominates the global nitrocellulose market, controlling the production and export of this vital material. Europe’s dependency on Chinese nitrocellulose has already led to supply shortages, hampering efforts to support Ukraine amidst its ongoing conflict with Russia.

There is a reason foreign entities are trying to control a significant portion of Canada’s pulp production: Our country is a crucial player in the supply chains for these military components.

The Canadian government’s failure to recognize the strategic military applications of the pulp and paper sector during national-security reviews reflects a broader lack of awareness of the importance of maintaining control over critical supply chains.

Even more ironic is the fact that industrial processes required for the production of nitric acid, sulphuric acid and toluene are tightly correlated with hydrogen production, a sector the government of Canada has targeted for development.

Again, one can see that a wider and more detailed understanding of the supply chain networks for critical infrastructure and national security, and their intrinsic role in supporting the defence industrial base, is being greatly overlooked by our policy makers.

To safeguard national security and economic sovereignty, I believe Canada must re-evaluate its strategic industries through the lens of contemporary global challenges. This re-evaluation should include:

  • Policy reforms: Implement policies that incentivize the production of high-value derivatives such as nitrocellulose, toluene and other core defence inputs within Canada.
  • Strategic partnerships: Foster partnerships within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and with other allies to secure and stabilize supply chains for critical military components; if NATO ammunition producers are sourcing guncotton from China and are worried about the potential risks of this, there is a natural opportunity to de-risk and source from Canada directly.
  • Investment in domestic capabilities: Encourage investment in sectors that support defence needs, such as nitrocellulose and the other key materials required for a sovereign defence production capability. In nearly all cases these are dual-use technologies that aid in securing our modern way of life and not only defending it.

As the global landscape becomes increasingly precarious, Canada must not only protect but also strategically leverage its natural resources and industrial capabilities. Ensuring national security in an era of uncertainty requires recognition that industry is not just about economic benefits to individuals or governments.

Even industrial sectors that during peacetime are not directly considered part of the defence industry, such as pulp and paper, must be protected and maintained in the interests of national security.

In redefining how we view these resources and the existing capabilities within Canadian industry, Canada can strengthen its position both as a global leader in sustainable resource management and a reliable defender of the free world.

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[-] [email protected] 5 points 4 weeks ago

Can you name a more imperialist state that China?

This is not a surprise to the world after 1989.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago

only one i could think of is maybe Russia, and they are more expansionist authoritarian than imperialist

[-] [email protected] -2 points 4 weeks ago

Pulp and paper has been a dying industry. Any foreign investment is good. They don't own the forests nor the land. There are low barriers to entry. If there is demand and higher margins someone can start up or invest more. This is one sector I wouldn't worry about.

[-] [email protected] 5 points 3 weeks ago

Other than newsprint (and maybe bond) almost all pulp & paper products seem to be only increasing in demand. It's just that new mills are being built overseas.

In BC though, between beetle kill and forest fires, fibre has gotten a little tight, although there is still enough to export whole logs.

Depressingly, Canfor just idled one of their Prince George mills (Northwood IIRC), joining a long list of mills that have closed over the last few years.

Curiously, the nitrocellulose they talk about in the article comes from the"Red Liquor" process (IIRC), and the last mill in BC that used that process was Port Alice which closed a few years ago as will. And IIRC the mill was sold to a Chinese company as well. Skeena Cellulose in Prince Rupert was originally built in WW2 just for gun cotton manufacture, although all their Red Liquor digesters were idled years before they shut down (around 20-25 years ago IIRC).

[-] [email protected] 11 points 4 weeks ago

You can't build and scale a start-up fast enough, say, in case of a crisis. Furthermore, China will use such investments to gain political influence in the foreign country -in that case Canada-, and they won't stop in this particular industry. Countries must think more in vertically-integrated supply chains and strategic clusters rather than in industries, and they must include geopolitical issues.

[-] [email protected] 20 points 4 weeks ago

To safeguard national security and economic sovereignty, I believe Canada must re-evaluate its strategic industries through the lens of contemporary global challenges

Yes, but have you looked at how much money the rich can make by further selling our futures out?

[-] [email protected] 5 points 4 weeks ago

Well I can see both sides

Since the NDP seems to be on one side and the Con/Libs are on the other I suppose it’s up to the voters

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

Not a day goes by that I don't wish the federal NDP had nominated Charlie Angus as their leader instead of Jagmeet Singh.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 3 weeks ago

I like that Singh has taken the party back to a worker’s party instead of a social issue party

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago
[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago* (last edited 3 weeks ago)

Because it alienates their base of blue collar workers and just ends up getting nothing done

[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago

Then maybe us blue-collar workers should get our heads out of our asses and realize the collective is more important than just the workers.

[-] [email protected] -1 points 3 weeks ago

It’s just not the party for you

You could try Green or Libs

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

My grandfather ran for the CCF in Saskatchewan and I've been NDP for most of my almost 50 yr voting life.

Sit down.

[-] [email protected] -1 points 3 weeks ago* (last edited 3 weeks ago)

Then you know it hasn’t been a social issue party but an economic one so I am not sure what you’re complaining about

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

Who the fuck do you think started our universal health care program?

[-] [email protected] 0 points 3 weeks ago

That’s an economic issue

People couldn’t afford medical care

Also as I am not in Saskatchewan, for me it was the Liberals

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago
[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

Why don’t you just tell me why you think it was a social issue?

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

Why don't go and educate yourself first?

[-] [email protected] 1 points 3 weeks ago

Because I don’t know what you expect me to see

Your link reaffirmed what I said

Tommy Douglas had long been a believer in universal health care, a belief borne out of his social gospel background and seeing farmers unable to afford health care during the Great Depression

The party’s brain trust decides that the only way it can be saved is to develop a relationship with the Canadian labour movement

Now the second quote isn’t related to what you were trying to prove but it is what initially upset you

[-] [email protected] 3 points 4 weeks ago

This is the best summary I could come up with:


In the shadow of escalating global conflicts and the pressing demand for military supplies, a critical component of national security is being overlooked: the strategic importance of pulp and paper.

The March, 2023, acquisition of Resolute Forest Products by privately held Paper Excellence – among other purchases of Canadian producers by parties related to foreign corporations, notably from China – places these essential resources under the control of overseas interests.

Paper Excellence, despite being based in British Columbia, is controlled by a member of a Chinese-Indonesian business dynasty and has already amassed a sizable share of Canada’s forest products industry.

NDP MP Charlie Angus raised concerns about this issue during a meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources back in March, 2023.

The Canadian government’s failure to recognize the strategic military applications of the pulp and paper sector during national-security reviews reflects a broader lack of awareness of the importance of maintaining control over critical supply chains.

Again, one can see that a wider and more detailed understanding of the supply chain networks for critical infrastructure and national security, and their intrinsic role in supporting the defence industrial base, is being greatly overlooked by our policy makers.


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this post was submitted on 21 May 2024
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