LAKELAND – On April 25th, the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed countervailing duties as high as 24 percent on Canadian softwood lumber imports. The pervious Softwood Lumber Agreement expired on October 12, 2016 and the Liberals have failed to negotiate a new agreement putting 400,000 jobs across Canada at risk.
“The Liberals are failing to create jobs and grow the economy. On Tuesday, Canadians learned how they have failed the forestry workers and their families, by blatantly jeopardizing their livelihoods,” said Shannon Stubbs, MP for Lakeland and Deputy Critic for Natural Resources. “While the Prime Minister is taking pictures with Ivanka Trump and making claims that the Canadian government is focused on growing the middle class, he is failing hard working Canadians. Forestry workers across Canada deserve stability and predictability from their government. Liberal inaction on the Softwood Lumber file will cost Canadian companies millions of dollars and could result in more closers like the shutdown of the Miller Western Saw Mill in the Village of Boyle,” said MP Stubbs.
The $65-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2 per cent of Canada’s GDP, and is one of Canada’s largest employers operating in over 200 communities and generating over 370 000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.
“A tariff of up to 24 percent on Canadian lumber will only result in more mill closures and more job losses across Canada,” said MP Stubbs. “Negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement has never been a priority for the Liberals. There is zero leadership and no mention of securing a new agreement in any of the Minister’s mandate letters. Although the Prime Minister has had a preliminary conversation with President Trump vowing to continue a strong dialogue between the two nations on bilateral trade, the lack of action on this file to date is extremely concerning. If the Liberals were truly defending the Canadian softwood lumber industry, they would have made sure that this level of tariff never happened in the first place,” said MP Stubbs.
It was just over a year ago when the Liberals claimed they had reached a prominent breakthrough on the file with the previous U.S. administration. However, they have yet to broker a new deal with the President Trump’s administration, who have vocally defended a ‘made in America’ agenda.
“True leadership is the ability to adapt to changes in global politics and the Liberals have proved they are incapable of doing this,” said MP Stubbs. “Last year, the Prime Minister was more interested in celebrating his friendship with former President Obama, which involved bringing his entire family down to Washington and leaving his Natural Resources Minister at home, instead of fighting for Canadian producers, jobs and interests.”
During the last dispute between Canada and the United States over 15,000 jobs were lost in British Columbia alone with thousands more being lost in Alberta. The end result was the Canadian forestry industry paying over $5.4 billion in tariffs.
“The Official Opposition is calling on President Trump to do what is right for both Americans and Canadians and reverse this decision. The end result will be an increase on housing construction of $1,000 per house for Americans and the loss of thousands of jobs for Canadians,” said MP Stubbs.
In 2014, 66% of Canadian softwood exports were shipped to the U.S. Today, Canada holds about 27% of the U.S. market. The 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement capped the Canadian share at 34%.
Shannon is the Member of Parliament for Lakeland, and Official Opposition Deputy Critic for Natural Resources.