Cullen Concerned for Future of Small Mills
Prince George, B.C. – With no agreement in the Softwood Lumber dispute in sight, Skeena Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is concerned for the future of small mills.
The Federal Government recently announced an assistance package for communities and workers negatively impacted by the countervailing duties imposed by the United States . Many small mills do not have the financial capacity to weather that monetary storm.
Cullen says the assistance package is re-circulated money ” it was money that was already planned and they just rolled it into one to reach a more significant number. My worry is that, in particular, some of the smaller mills that operate in the North.. They don’t have the cash reserves they can’t sustain prolonged attacks against their product., which is obviously the American plan to wipe out more and more producers on the Canadian side.”
He says this dispute is different than the last time because more of the major producers have investments in the United States “They were an important ally in fighting softwood last time, My concern is that their enthusiasm, their energy is not going to be as great because they have placed a bet on both sides of the table.”
The assistance packaged announced by the Federal Government includes dollars to diversify markets, something Cullen says is a long term strategy that won’t help small communities right now “That’s a mid to long term strategy. If they are willing to get out and do some heavy lifting this season, right now, and open up those markets we (the NDP ) would be interested in that, and some compensation for workers who may be going to lose their jobs because of these illegal tariffs.”
He says there is no point in offering forestry workers retraining for high tech sector jobs “Give us something concrete that will work in the communities in which these workers live.”