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October 27, 2017 8:47 pm

Clock Ticking on Softwood Lumber Agreement

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 @ 10:51 AM

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.”


Justin is not interested in sustaining or improving living standards of western Canada. He is just like his Dad, Canada stops at Thunder Bay.

He wants to hang out with hypocritical movie stars that wants to save the world, without changing their lifestyle.

Liberals and Justine not worried about soft lumber and the employment of thousands. He is worried about getting marijuana going as a taxable industry , it is how he got into power .

    Not just taxes but mostly vote buying.

Comments from Todd Doherty on this issue have been consistently inaccurate and unhelpful. Comments from industry representatives and the provincial gov’t have been consistently complimentary towards the federal government’s engagement in the SLA negotiations. In reality the US has zero motivation to reach an agreement, and it will take both governments plus the vested interests on both sides of the border to settle this. Increased effort by our federal government would not have resulted in an agreement. There are likely some tough times ahead for the lumber industry, but this should not be viewed through a partisan lens.

    Good post.

    Which comment is inaccurate? Maybe unhelpful if you are sitting on the other side of the floor but not inaccurate.

With Canfor, West Fraser, and Interfor owning some 40 lumber mills in the South East USA, most of these purchased in the past 10 years, one has to wonder just what their position is on Canadian Softwood Lumber. They now own mills on both sides of the border.

These companies have been making some pretty big investments in US Lumber mills, and not much investment in Canadian mills recently.

Canada needs an agreement with the USA as they are the biggest purchaser of Canadian lumber, and the Russians are making a big move to sell lumber to China.

We are between a rock and a hard place, and we need to ensure that this situation if brought to a successful conclusion. The alternative is for more Canadian mills to shut down.

We also need to know what the allowable cut is for these companies going forward so that people can plan accordingly.

    What I wonder is what the comparison operating cost per 10,000 m3 sawn softwood lumber is for the newest model of a Canadian Canfor mill versus a similar sized and age of mill in the USA including the cost of the timber feedstock fob the plant.

Babine and Decker Lake are both American owned sawmills.

“Canada wants to be known more for its resourcefulness than its natural resources”

And it is about time that those words were uttered.

Now wait and see whether we can get out of this “resources” roller coaster, whether it is oil, gas, lumber or whatever.

The “natural resources” of many countries is the grey matter between people’s ears. We need to access that more than we have done in the past.

The Swedes make furniture from their softwood. They and the Austrians make cross laminated timber. There have been decades of attempts made to promote Canadian/USA style of wood framed housing construction in Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, etc. All of that promotion has fallen flat on its face.

Canada has had a problem going beyond the primary manufacturing of dimension lumber. There is a limited market for it. Time to get some added value out of our softwood craze. It is slowing down, the jobs, other than transportation associated with moving timber from one place to another, have been diminishing due to increased mechanization using the tools manufactured in places other than Canada for the most park.

Get you thinking caps on. The next phase is coming and we have been sitting on our asses.

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