Cullen Says Ottawa “Missed Opportunity” to Resolve SLA
Prince George, B.C. – In the wake of countervailing duties being levelled against Canadian lumber exports to the U.S., Skeena Bulkley MP Nathan Cullen says the dispute didn’t have to happen.
Cullen says a former U.S. Trade representative told the New York Times, a proposal had been put before the Canadian Government while Barrack Obama was still in the Whitehouse, but Canada decided not to sign it ” If we had a way to solve this and chose not to and waited for the Trump Administration to try and work out a deal, then Trudeau’s government wasn’t paying attention to the campaign that was going on in the U.S., because clearly, Trump is looking to tighten their border and close up trading routes. because that was part of his entire rhetoric for 18 months.”
He says the need for a Softwood deal was being raised in Ottawa long before the U.S. election and was given new urgency following the vote Stateside “What I was hearing from Congressional friends in Washington was that Softwood was going to be made as the example of the new Trump administration’s take on trade. Everyone assumed from the way Trump ran his campaign, and even since he got into office that Mexico or China would be the first targets Well whether it’s softwood, or dairy, or NAFTA at large, Canada seems to be the first target of this administration.”
He says the irony is that with duties on Canadian Lumber, American consumers will be facing higher prices “Because our wood is going to be more expensive, but never combine the words Trump and logic in the same sentence because that’s not, obviously, what’s going on here.”
While the big players in the lumber sector are likely to weather the storm because of diversification of markets and large cash deposits to cover those duties, it is the smaller operators and the communities in which they are located that will likely feel the hit. Cullen says more needs to be done for those small communities which are facing uncertainty. “If we have layoffs, we need to have increases in EI and training. We need to further increase and diversify our markets.”
He suggests there be two tiers of funding be made available to impacted communities “To say Telkwa and Kelowna should be able to compete fairly is ignoring reality, that small communities seem to be at a perpetual disadvantage in building up ur infrastructure or even just repairing what we have, while the ‘haves’ have more and the have nots are left behind.”