Emerson Says Softwood Meetings Pressed B.C.’s Stand
Prince George, B.C.- Special Envoy to the United States David Emerson is in Washington, following meetings there and in Ottawa on the softwood lumber issue.
“In Ottawa, we met with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Québec’s Representative to the U.S., Raymond Chretien” says Emerson, who adds it is important all areas of “Team Canada are unified” that division among Canadians would be “problematic”. He says his meetings with Quebec were to ensure “We are shoulder to shoulder” on the issue. He says that is not a concern about the current efforts, rather a reflection on what has happened in the past.
His Washington visit helped him get a better perspective of the political landscape. He said the Trump Administration is “Far from stabilized” and that while there were no negotiations “We are certainly setting the table.”
He says his message was that Canada doesn’t want a long drawn out litigation, but is prepared to fight. He says the scope of the litigation this time is broader and products that were not in the litigation in the past have been included in the current action.
Emerson says he met for about an hour with Oregon Senator Ron Widen, who he describes as one of the most influential Senators in Washington and a strong advocate for the lumber lobbyists in the U.S. “I would say it was a good meeting, but a prickly meeting.”
The United States is expected to levy significant duties on softwood lumber by the end of next month. Those duties could have a negative impact on a number of small mill operators in B.C. “I think there is a much greater vulnerability for the much smaller independents” says Emerson. “We recognize, small independents are not as capable of handling a big cash hemorrhage as the bigger guys.”
“I believe these meetings have been a good start” says Emerson “but there is much more work to do to ultimately secure a softwood lumber deal – which remains our goal. We have differences to overcome but we can – and we must – find a negotiated solution to this dispute for the benefit of both of our countries.”