Softwood Lumber Agreement isn’t dead in water

By on March 14, 2017

Dear Editor:

I appreciate that local Richard Cannings works hard as an NDP MP, but his recent remarks regarding the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) in his recent constituent newsletter require comment. Cannings claims that the current federal government has failed to protect Canadian forestry jobs. He appears to believe that the Liberals have abandoned this important and complicated cause.

However, despite the deadline having passed, talks with the United States on the SLA have continued.

Early in 2017, on CBC Radio One’s The House, Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed there is a new proposal on the table from the U.S., for which Canada is preparing a response. As Freeland stated, “it’s not over.”

As the NDP’s Natural Resources critic, Cannings surely understands that Canada’s softwood lumber interests and concerns vary from one province to the next.  Importantly, the history is that achieving each successive SLA has entailed negotiation delays, difficulties, and challenges, driven by strong (and arguably growing) protectionist sentiments in the U.S. Like Cannings, I would love to have seen the Canadian government resolve this matter quickly, but the record indicates it’s just not that simple. And new U.S. President Donald Trump is not likely going to make a renewed SLA any easier to achieve.

I look forward to Cannings’ specific ideas on how to resolve this recurring, difficult trade issue.

Loraine Stephanson, Penticton

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