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New Brunswick judge to rule Friday on bid to stop forestry strategy

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FREDERICTON - A New Brunswick judge will rule Friday on a bid by aboriginal leaders to block an increase in the amount of softwood lumber that can be harvested from Crown lands.

The provincial government's 10-year forestry plan allows companies to cut 660,000 more cubic metres of softwood annually, an increase of about 20 per cent.

Michael Girard, a spokesman for the Assembly of First Nations' Chiefs of New Brunswick, says Judge Judy Clendening of the Court of Queen's Bench will deliver a decision Friday afternoon on the group's request for an injunction.

Clendening has been asked to issue an injunction that would prevent the provincial government from signing final agreements with companies.

The chiefs argue that the province failed to adequately consult First Nations communities about the plan.

The group also says the increase would cause irreversible harm to the environment and plant and animal species that the First Nations rely on.

The forestry plan is a major part of the bid by the Progressive Conservatives to be re-elected in the Sept. 22 election.

The party says the strategy will create jobs and rejuvenate the forestry sector.

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