I’m somewhat aghast and astounded that a good portion of the media and politicians in this country seem to be surprised at this week’s announcement of U.S. countervailing duties on softwood lumber.
Watching some of the newscasts and reading some of the newspapers it’s easy to get the impression that this came out of the blue. It didn’t, of course. It’s been brewing for some time and the date for the announcement of tariffs was set in January. Yet, a whole bunch of people in this country who knew, or at least should have known, are now feigning surprise. That doesn’t help us at all.
In addition, there’s enough finger pointing going on to keep us going for some time.
Give Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty credit for not being one of the surprised ones. This has been on his agenda from Day One. The Conservatives, however, are pointing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inaction on the file. While that may be true, the current agreement expired under his predecessor, Conservative Stephen Harper’s watch.
BC NDP leader John Horgan has pointed the finger at Liberal leader Christy Clark for not being more vocal on the issue.
The reality is that it’s the Americans who set the agenda and timeline on these discussions. Harper could have lobbied harder, Trudeau could lobby harder, Clark could lobby harder, but the reality is regardless of who is, or was, holding the reins of power in this province and/or Ottawa, we would likely still be facing these tariffs today.
It’s in the American lumber lobby’s best interests to launch these actions. An agreement needs two sides to agree and when the softwood lumber deal expired, the Americans were in no hurry to negotiate a new one … so here we sit.
What could we have done? Well, we could have done what all the politicians say they are doing but not … actually diversifying the lumber industry and lessening our reliance on selling dimension lumber into the U.S.