It’s difficult to know which is worse for Canada: A US President focused solely on HIS country or a Canadian Prime Minister focused solely on HIMself.
On April 25th the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed duties as high as 24 per cent on Canadian softwood lumber imports: putting almost 400,000 jobs across the country at risk. Donald Trump has said and done some foolish things, and I disagree with his action here, but make no mistake: this was an avoidable situation and is equally the fault of the Trudeau Liberals.
Here’s a bit of background on softwood lumber. Canada’s forestry sector generates approximately 370,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada. 96% of all softwood lumber imports into the US are from Canada. 69% of Canadian softwood exports are shipped to the US. Today, Canada holds about 27% of the US market. The 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement capped the Canadian share at 34%.
It was our Conservative Government that negotiated an agreement by the end of April 2006 – within 3 months of coming into office – to solve the last softwood lumber dispute the Liberals got us into. It was also our Conservative Government that negotiated an extension of the deal in 2012 to ensure market stability through to October 2016.
By contrast, the Liberals under Justin Trudeau let that deal expire and have had zero success negotiating a new trade deal. This time last year, the Liberals heralded “a real breakthrough on softwood lumber” with the previous U.S. administration. Yet here we are today facing another softwood lumber crisis. Maybe Justin Trudeau should have spent a little less time hugging and mugging for the cameras with the former President Obama and more time focused on actually getting something done for Canadians.
The truth is that negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement has never been a priority for this government. There is no leadership and no mention of a securing a new agreement in any of the Trudeau Liberals’ ministers’ mandate letters.
Now, as is their method of operating, the Liberals have pitted one region of the country against another forcing some provinces to appoint their own U.S. envoys. The Liberal Government is failing to create jobs and grow the economy, and now they are failing forestry workers and their families, putting their livelihoods in jeopardy. Again and again this government has proved itself completely useless at negotiating international trade deals. To date the only cross-border action the Trudeau Liberals have been able to generate are illegal migrants.
Canadian forestry workers deserve stability and predictability from their government. This Liberal inaction has put whole communities that rely on the lumber industry at risk.
Whatever one feels about the new US administration, it is clear that Donald Trump is fighting hard for what he sees as American interests — that’s his job — and he plays for keeps. It’s time that Justin Trudeau did his job and stood up for Canadians.