Clock Ticking on Softwood Lumber Agreement
Prince George, B.C. – Canada and the United States have agreed to last minute softwood lumber talks.
The deadline to sign an agreement is midnight tonight and follow talks last week in Toronto between a US trade representative, the Canadian lumber industry and Canada’s International Trade Minister.
The Softwood Lumber agreement expired on October 12th last year however lumber shipments have been allowed to carry on during a one year ‘stand still’ period where neither side could launch action (see previous story here).
Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Todd Doherty hopes negotiators are able to reach an agreement but feels the issue hasn’t been a big priority of the Liberal government.
“Not one mention of softwood or forestry was made in the Liberals 219 campaign promises. As a matter of fact, the very first address to the world our prime minister said that Canada wants to be known more for its resourcefulness than its natural resources.”
He also points out that the Stephen Harper government was able to negotiate the last agreement within three months of coming into office in 2006.
“And in 2006 it wasn’t an easy thing to negotiate either. It was a hard fought out battle but that Softwood Lumber Agreement put to rest the long and most costly trade dispute between the US and Canada in the history of our two countries relationship.”
Doherty adds there’s a lot at stake with the current negotiations.
“In terms of softwood there are almost 400,000 jobs throughout Canada that are dependent on an agreement and obviously different provinces are more dependent on forestry than others,” he says.
“And BC is the producer of the most softwood in the country and so BC I would say has the most at stake and that’s where you see a lot of the concern.”