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October 27, 2017 8:14 pm

MPs Blast Trudeau Government on Forestry

Saturday, November 19, 2016 @ 6:56 AM

Prince George, B.C. – The Conservative MPs for the two federal Prince George ridings are highly critical of the Trudeau government’s handling of the forestry file and speculate the Liberals will capitulate to American demands in a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In a joint release with MP Bob Zimmer, Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty says “we know that the President-elect is looking to include terms that favour the US when it comes to the free trade of softwood lumber between our two countries.  How can we count on the Liberals to protect forestry jobs when they couldn’t even negotiate a renewal of the Softwood Lumber Agreement under favourable terms with the Obama administration?”

Doherty continues “as joint members of the Softwood Lumber Taskforce we call on Justin Trudeau to finally stand up for our forestry families.  Get on the phone with the President-elect and bring home a deal that won’t result in mill closures and widespread job losses for our hardworking constituents.”

Attempts to reach Doherty by telephone to pose questions about the former Conservative government’s handling of the Softwood Lumber file were not returned.

Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer said “our forestry sector is facing more uncertainty than ever before.  Our mills and producers face the prospect of costly tariffs, duties and the constant threat of litigation.  This comes as a result of the Liberal Government’s failure to bring home a new Softwood Lumber Agreement.  To make matters worse, the Prime Minister has blindly agreed to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the most important trade deal between Canada and the United States.”

The release concludes by stating “the previous Conservative government has a proud history of standing up for forestry families.  The last softwood lumber dispute cost the Canadian forestry sector $5.3 billion and was settled by the previous Conservative government negotiating an agreement within three months of coming into office in 2006, under the Bush administration.

It was also the previous Conservative government that negotiated an extension of the deal in 2012 with President Obama to ensure market stability through to October 2016, in addition to investing $726 million to combat the mountain pine beetle epidemic.”


“In a joint release with MP Bob Zimmer, Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty says “we know that the President-elect is looking to include terms that favour the US when it comes to the free trade of softwood lumber between our two countries. How can we count on the Liberals to protect forestry jobs when they couldn’t even negotiate a renewal of the Softwood Lumber Agreement under favourable terms with the Obama administration?”

Take your time Trudeau, it is better to negotiate a “good deal” for our Canadian lumber industry than the chitty deal the Harper Government negotiated for us, which only recently expired on October 15, 2015. Back in 2006, the Harper Government negotiated a lumber deal and quickly announced, without direct involvement of industry or provinces, its implementation on Oct. 12 after a vote in the House of Commons, passed only because of support from the Bloc Québécois. Almost all the Liberals voted against it, notably because it imposed a special tax on our lumber industry to the tune of $1-billion to be remitted to the U.S. and their lumber coalition. Canada had never before paid a ransom for peace, let alone after it had won the legal war over illegal US softwood lumber tariffs.

Zimmer and Doherty should do their homework on how the Harper Conservative unilaterally negotiated a very poor Softwood Lumber Agreement, before being critical of this Liberal Government.

    Your synopsis of the Softwood Lumber Agreement negotiated by the Harper Government with the help of ex Liberal David Emerson, is the biggest bunch of hooey I have heard in a long time.

    Go back to the history of the agreement and learn something.

    Last time, like every other time, we took the best deal we could get. This time we’ll do the same thing. It wouldn’t matter which Party is in office, the mindset of ALL of them on this type of issue is exactly the same. The ones out of office will pretend this is not so, but it is so. The Liberals did it last time, the Conservatives are doing it this time. Trying to score political points that they could do better, when in reality they both know the war is already lost before any battle has even been fought.

    Well said BeingHuman

A few years ago, on a trip to the US, I had occasion to go through a large Lowe’s building supply store. One which had all their lumber under cover. I looked at some of their stock, and very quickly realised that no matter whether it was SPF from Canada or Douglas Fir cut in the USA, they most certainly don’t follow the Canadian practice of “export the best, sell the locals the rest.” What was called ‘premium cut’, which was just about everything they had, was just that. Straight, no wane, no spike knots or bug holes. You could take it off the top of the pile, and it would be just as good as the stuff at the bottom even after others had been into the pile before you. Beautiful stuff. And at a price, for their US sawn Doug Fir studs, that was way less than that kind of lumber would sell for in BC. If I’d had the pickup instead of the car, I’d have bought the whole pile, at retail, and I know I’d have easily doubled my money selling that stock here in BC. It was THAT nice.

Contrast that to what we do here. My kids have been doing a renovation, and wanted to use some ‘kiln dried’ lumber to avoid shrinkage as much as possible. So they went to the local Home Depot, which also has their lumber stock all under cover. It took over an hour to find three decent 2×4’s. Out of their ‘premium cut’ pile. And even they weren’t that good.

What is wrong with us in this country? Are we so starved for some other country’s ‘money’ that we have to give away our best and be contented with the crap? Why? There is something definitely wrong here, and we should start to find out what, and fix it.

    Very well said!!! I totally agree with you about the quality product they sell at for lumber in the USA!

      Well Said

Trudeau has been in power for just over a year now, no softwood agreement yet. Anything west of Ontario is just for collecting taxes from and boy does he need lots of that.. 40 billion more…now some might question the 25 million to a known terrorist group. But he has plans for recouping some of those loss with Bill C-27 pensions.

“the previous Conservative government has a proud history of standing up for forestry families”

BS ….. where is the $10 million promised this region to mitigate the MPB effect? it stopped after about $2 million or so.

We remember the history. Don’t think of us as stupid!!!

Do you really think that anyone in the USA was going to start negotiating a new agreement with a pending election?

Do you really think the president elect is going to give a chit about the softwood lumber agreement with Canada?

Give us a hint how you would go about it if you think you are so great. What is your bargaining chip? No more electricity to the USA? No oil? No water?

The USA is pretty well self reliant. Quit criticising and provide some constructive suggestions. This is not a fight among 4 parties with seats in the government. It is a partnership to run a government!!!

    Unfortunately gopg2015, like my comment, your comment presents the historic facts, this will not sit well with the blindly loyal Conservative crowd on here.

      So, how about the opposition MPs having a meeting with the Liberals to track the money and push them to commit to provide the rest. If there is no “rest” then identify where it went to and how it helped mitigate the effect of the MPB.

      This is the Government of Canada. To me, I do not care who the party is that is in charge at any given time. When the Government makes a promise to the people, it needs to learn to keep that promise. And if one party makes the promise while they are in power, then it is up to them to push the government in power afterwards to remind them of that promise.

      Get to work, guys!!!!

    Actually, it was too early in the morning for me when I made the post.

    It was $1Billion promised. $100million per year over 10 years.

    City Council in July 2015 stated that “Prince George will join other northern municipalities to call on the federal government to make good on a promise to spend $800 million to limit the impacts of the mountain pine-beetle.”

    $200 million had apparently been received.

    “We need the money. We don’t know if it’s been forgotten or if it’s just a very long process,” said Coun. Garth Frizzell at Monday night’s council meeting.

    Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer said nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars have gone to B.C. forestry projects over the past number of years. (what is the “pastr number of years”? where is the clear accounting of the amount, to where and for what purpose?)

    “I understand the concerns if you only look at that one particular program, but a more fulsome understanding of the money is important,” said Zimmer, citing $726 million worth of B.C. investment spread across four different funding envelopes, including the mountain pine beetle program.

    Too much BS without enough accountability.

I’d like to see the zimdoh team hold their breaths till they get what they want . That’ll show Trudeau and the rest of us .

The softwood lumber agreement negotiated by the Conservatives allowed for lumber to be exported to the USA. When the price of lumber dropped below $300.00 per thousand an export tax kicked in. Rather than have this tax collected by the USA it is collected by the Federal Government and then paid back to the Provinces and goes in general revenue.

So we had an agreement that worked. We would have been happy to have this agreement renewed for another 10 years, however it has not been, and we are now without any agreement what so ever.

Soooo. The Liberals need to get off their butt and get the best agreement that they can so we can get some continuity in lumber production and sales.

If we have to fight the Americans over this issue for three years more or less like we have done in the past, you can rest assured that a more BC mills will close, with the associated job losses.

We need to fish or cut bait. This is a serious matter for BC, and it seems the Liberals are not up to speed on just how important it actually is.

Time to expand sales to Asia and leave the americans asking nicely for our lumber.


    We do not need to get down on our knees.

Zimmer and Doherty are playing fast and loose with the facts when they state; “How can we count on the Liberals to protect forestry jobs when they couldn’t even negotiate a renewal of the Softwood Lumber Agreement under favourable terms with the Obama administration?”

The truth is, the US Lumber Coalition does not want to renew, nor renegotiate, the softwood lumber deal with Canada. They want to see tariffs imposed on our lumber, and Canadian lumber share in the US market reduced, why? Because lumber in the US comes from “privately held land”. Imposing tariffs on our lumber and restricting its flow across the board will increase lumber prices in the US, and will therefore “permanently” increase the value of those privately held lands in the US where their lumber supply comes from. So we must all ask ourselves; who makes up the US lumber coalition, and what drives their agenda? It’s all about privately held landowner greed, and there is no shortage of that greed in the United States!

Not sure if it is in the Conservative DNA to do so, but I too think that both Zimmer and Doherty need to stop their political posturing and get on with working cooperatively with the Liberal Government on this file. Our fight is not with each other, our fight is with a very greedy US Lumber Coalition. Lots of local incomes and jobs are depending on this issue being resolved, so both our MPs had better get to work, and cease their useless grandstanding and political posturing on this important issue!

Always nice to blame the federal party in power – liberal/conservative – for being poor negotiators against a massively bigger opponent. Mostly we just get what the US allows us regardless of party in power. But some always like to make things into party politics.
Regarding mill closure and job losses, we have a much bigger problem than softwood agreement. We are seriously running low on timber. That would be thanks to the provincial government encouraging massive over-capacity in mills in order to liquidate the MPB killed trees. Combined with ridiculously low stumpage. And massive cheating by the timber industry in over cutting green trees. And a forest ministry which no longer has the manpower or the legislation/policies in place to deal with that cheating.
When the new AAC is announced for this region, there will be major mill closures and job losses, as is happening in other parts of the province, and it will have nothing to do with any federal party or softwood agreement.
“Lower taxes” Christie has been liquidating our forest resource to keep our province afloat, instead of charging corporations a fair rate for the resource, and charging the population enough to cover the cost of living here. Should we have higher taxes? Yup, or else keep increasing the debt we are leaving for our children and grandchildren!

So how does this phone call go.

Justin Trudeau “Mr. Trump, I demand a really good deal for Canadian softwood or else.”

Donald Trump. “Or else what?”

Justin Trudeau. “Are you into celebrity boxing?”

Donald Trump. “Sure, but the secret service does my fighting for me. When and where?”

Justin Trudeau. “Um, I’ll get back to you on that.”

I’ve always disliked these opposition rants, no matter whose in opposition, about something the government can do absolutely nothing about. The only reason the Americans negotiate this issue at all, is because the American building industry wants Canadian lumber.

    I completely agree ski51, we can tit for tat all day, because this is more or less how a real series of phone call went between PM Stephen Harper and President Obama:

    Stephen Harper: Hello Mr. Obama can you please approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, because we need to get our Tar Sands oil to market.
    President Obama: Well first we need to do a thorough environmental assessment of that project, and do a study on its benefits to us.
    Stephen Harper: Oh come on now Mr. Obama, approving the Keystone XL Pipeline is a “no brainer”.
    President Obama: We are still studying that proposed project.
    Stephen Harper: Well just so you know, Canada will not take “No” for an answer!
    President Obama: Our review of the project is complete and our answer is “No”!
    Stephen Harper: Ummm… well Ok then… *click.

    So what has our little exchange on this news blog accomplished ski51? Absolutely NOTHING!!!

    Hey Zimmer and Doherty, you heard us; get to work with the Liberal Government on this softwood lumber agreement issue, now is the time we need you to do your jobs, more than ever!!!

      Being Human, if you “completely agree” with what Ski51 has written above, (as I, for one, do), what good is it going to do to advise Zimmer and Doherty to get to work with the Liberal government on this issue?

      It is, just as Ski51 has put it, “… something the government can do absolutely nothing about.” Whether they co-operate with the government or play politics that’s not going to change anything.

      The only thing that might change anything is just how much the American building industry wants our lumber and how much clout it carries compared to the American lumber industry in Washington.

      Given that a lot of the ‘money’ that now owns major tracts of forest land in the USA is insurance company money, plus a lot of small forest land holders in States that strongly supported Trump, plus the fact there are a lot of other countries who will sell logs to the USA ‘dirt cheap’ through favourable currency exchange rates (to the US), I’d say the building industry isn’t going to have the clout it once had on this issue.

So Obama kills the Keystone. The Enbridge pipeline is basically dead in the water. The lines to Eastern Canada and to Vancouver is being opposed.

So with the oil prices tanking (pun intended)and with no way to move Canadian Oil to markets other than the USA, we have basically cut off our noses to spite our faces.

Without pipelines, and oil, this part of the Country is in for a rough ride. Add to that the coming lumber crisis, and you should be able to see the big hole that is in your foot.

There is a middle ground for all these problems, however we need to get there. In my estimation Canadians will not wake up and smell the flowers until they have had a taste of a depression, or hard times, like the dirty thirties and forties.

Having your parents spoon feed you for 40 years only makes you an authority on spoons, not on the way of the real world.

    How did we manage to be prosperous with only the existing pipelines?
    High oil prices.
    How many pipeline approvals went through under the previous PM?
    There are some fairly valid arguments regarding the ability to sell the oil if the many proposed pipelines were in place.
    Energy East would be the best bet for Canada, for jobs, revenue, and from an environmental standpoint.
    Kinder Morgan is also viable, and exists on an already jeopardized route.
    Northern Gateway is dead, and rightly so. The worst proposal from every angle.

Agree completely. Canada is never going to be in a position to “push” a deal like this onto the US. We’re simply too small and they are simply too big. The deal will eventually get done, but it will be on their terms and it will get completed when they are ready.

The best thing we could do would be to work cooperatively and figure out how to extract maximum value from the industry, doing things that are within our control. Perhaps that’s new value added products that we can sell domestically or abroad. Perhaps it’s looking for new markets with willing partners or expanding those markets that we do have.

The constant bemoaning of “get off your butt and solve this!” or “we could do better”, is accomplishing literally nothing.

    We already do both of those things, NMG.

    If there’s consumer demand, and it actually pays to fill it, it will be filled.

    The big questions are:-

    Is there actually consumer demand?

    Can that demand, if it exists, be made ‘effective demand’ ~ can the ‘value added process’ return its costs in price plus enough additional profit to make it worthwhile repeating?

    If we try to ‘commoditise’ value added products that are now enjoying limited success as ‘specialties’, simply with the intention of creating more employment, are we going to fail on all counts?

    And perhaps the biggest question of all is, why do we continually “bite our nose to spite our face” by exporting all our best commodities, often at a far lower price than the crap that’s left us here sells for here, and pretend we’re somehow getting ahead?

This is to funny, first the softwood agreement was signed by Harper 10pm on a Thursday hours before the world trade court was to agree with the Canadian case. Second the Billion dollars promised was never delivered on. So pass on the BS Cons,

Chuck–I have to agree with you. It is just a matter of time and we will be in big trouble with wood supply and we will have very little to sell out of the country. Companies will just fold and move on.

Spending money, kissing butt and dressing up are not good assets for negotiating a softwood agreement. Part time drama teacher might help a bit, but I think Trump is feed up with all the drama..

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