The U.S. Commerce Department has injected the softwood lumber issue into the B.C. election campaign.
Yesterday, it imposed preliminary countervailing duties of nearly 20 percent on Canadian exports of this product to the United States.
It will make softwood lumber from this province significantly more expensive in the United States.
Below, you can see responses by B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark and B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan.
"My message to B.C. forest workers, their families, and producers is this: We are here for you. We will fight for you. And we will not give up.
“We will continue to press our case and implement our Action Plan on softwood. We will:
1. Fight the unfounded claims of the U.S. lumber production lobby and the unwarranted and unfair duties placed on Canadian lumber products;
2. Use this preliminary period for B.C. and Canada to reinforce our efforts to reach a fair deal with the United States;
3. Work with U.S. home builders and lumber retailers to demonstrate that Canadian softwood lumber is a critical component of continued U.S. economic growth;
4. Continue to work with the federal government to ensure B.C. forest workers are supported in the event of job impacts; and
5. Accelerate our proven actions to diversify our markets and products to further reduce our reliance on the United States.
“The forest industry built this province, and it has a strong future ahead—having added 9,825 jobs in the sector since 2011. We will only accept a new agreement that works for B.C. We will fight, and we will win—as we have before.”
"The BC Liberal government has made strong progress on diversifying B.C.’s lumber product exports. In 2015, 59 per cent of British Columbia’s softwood lumber exports went to the U.S.—down from 82 percent in 2001 thanks to increased exports to overseas markets including China and India."
“Forestry is vital to British Columbia’s economy, to the livelihood of tens of thousands of B.C. workers, and to our communities. B.C. is the biggest trading partner for softwood lumber with the United States.
“The United States has announced its intention to impose an average 20 percent duty on Canadian softwood lumber exports. I am disappointed by the actions taken against our industry. The claims being made by the United States are entirely unjustified. B.C.’s forest sector is fair and market based and we will vigorously defend against these unfair tariffs.
“I am equally disappointed that Christy Clark failed to make getting a deal a priority, and failed to lead British Columbia to a fair resolution on softwood lumber. She has not treated this issue with the urgency it deserves. Because of delay and inaction, thousands of BC workers now risk losing their jobs and their livelihoods.
“While the Premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan have visited Washington DC to advocate for their province’s interests since the election of Donald Trump, Premier Christy Clark chose not to. Instead she said she was ‘optimistic,’ calling him a ‘builder.’
“We need a government that will advocate strongly for B.C.’s interests, defend B.C. forest workers, and reach a fair and lasting deal on softwood lumber.
“If I am elected Premier, I will travel to Washington DC within 30 days to make sure B.C. is properly represented in the softwood lumber dispute. I will sit down with U.S. representatives, and I will ensure our government is taking every possible action to get a deal on softwood lumber to protect the jobs in our forest industry.
“Our future economic prosperity is at stake. We cannot afford any further inaction or delay. It is time for direct and immediate action to defend B.C.’s interests in the softwood lumber dispute, to ensure a fair deal for British Columbia.”