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Working group to hold Trudeau government to account

The Conservative Opposition is creating a Softwood Lumber Taskforce to hold the Liberals to account for failing to solve the softwood lumber trade dispute with the United States. This Taskforce will ensure that the voices of Canadians are heard and to provide instruction to the Liberal government on a long-term solution.

The Trudeau government was unable to strike a new softwood lumber agreement to replace the one-year interim deal that officially expired last week. This left thousands employed in the forestry sector across Canada at risk.

Beginning immediately, the Taskforce will consult with forestry stakeholders, especially those who feel their voices have not been adequately represented at the bargaining table. The Taskforce will engage communities whose major employer is tied to the forestry industry.

Based on input from stakeholders, professionals, and working families, the Taskforce will present recommendations to the Government of Canada. The Taskforce will also make formal submissions, issue briefs, and write letters to Ministers and negotiators until the concerns of Canadian forestry workers are heard.

“There has been an alarming lack of attention to this file by The Prime Minister. The Liberal government has failed Peace Country forestry workers and their families,” said Chris Warkentin, Member of Parliament for Grande Prairie – Mackenzie.

“Without a new softwood lumber agreement in place, Canadian forestry operations are faced with the prospect of costly U.S. duties on lumber that will force producers to shut down,” Warkentin added. “From the forest to the mill, almost 400,000 well-paying, high-quality forestry jobs are now at risk, thousands of them here in northwest Alberta.”

The last softwood lumber dispute cost the Canadian forestry sector $5.3 billion and was settled by the previous Conservative government negotiating an agreement within three months of coming into office in 2006. It was also the previous Conservative government that negotiated an extension of the deal in 2012 to ensure market stability through to October 2016.