Grande Prairie, AB – April 26, 2017
Chris Warkentin, Member of Parliament for Grande Prairie-Mackenzie, called on the Liberal government to swiftly find a solution to the new softwood lumber duties imposed by the United States.
On April 25th, the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed duties as high as 24 per cent on Canadian softwood lumber imports. The Softwood Lumber Agreement between Canada and the United States expired on October 12, 2016 and the Liberal government has failed to negotiate a new agreement, putting almost 400,000 jobs across the country at risk.
“The forestry sector is an important part of our communities and the economy in the Peace Country,” Warkentin noted. “The new duties that the United States has imposed are going to have a significant impact on forestry dependent communities and the people who are employed in the sector.”
The forestry sector generates approximately 370,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada. In 2014, 66% of Canadian softwood exports were shipped to the US, while 96% of all softwood lumber imports into the US are from Canada.
In April of 2006, the Conservative government negotiated an agreement within 3 months of coming into office to solve the last softwood lumber dispute. The Conservative government then negotiated an extension of the deal in 2012 to ensure market stability through October 2016.
“It has become clear that negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement has never been a priority for this government,” Warkentin said. “Now when the United States launches an assault on our industry, they are entirely unprepared to fight for Canadian jobs and products.”
“It wasn’t a priority for the Prime Minister or his Trade Minister when they came into office in 2015 and despite the Liberals heralding “a real breakthrough on softwood lumber” with the previous U.S. administration a year ago, today we find ourselves facing another softwood lumber crisis.”
“Canadian forestry workers deserve stability and predictability from their government,” Warkentin demanded. “The Liberal government must negotiate an agreement that will stabilize the forestry sector in every region of Canada and ensure access to the American market.
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