Sawmills across B.C. are closing as thousands of resource workers lose their jobs.
Yet in the recent NAFTA 2 (CUSMA) negotiations the well-publicized points of contention were mainly for eastern interests; steel mills and supply management—both issues concentrate on vote-rich Ontario and Quebec. Softwood was so far off the radar screen it never appeared at the forefront of these negotiations despite its devastating effects on B.C. workers.
Softwood has long been a bone of contention with the U.S. government. Until Trump, the conflict would go before the World Trade Organization, which subsequently ruled in Canada’s favour. During this long drawn-out process lumber barons in the American south get rich selling lumber in their now limited market.
Currently, the WTO is hamstrung with two empty seats which need to be filled by U.S. appointments. Trump refuses to do so and so the unfair U.S. tactics against softwood lumber continue.
Raw log exports from B.C. are now at an all-time record high, regularly above six million cubic metres annually and sometimes as high as eight million cubic metres.
Prior to the last B.C. election, the logging community and environmental activists lobbied the B.C. government to restrict raw log exports, failing to address the real issue which is the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., which limits our ability to keep the forest industry healthy.
For the past decade, foreign money has poured into B.C. fueling unrest in our resource industry. Money is power and a good example of that is the stranglehold environmentalists have put on the resource industry and the political inroads they have made federally and provincially. These militants are apparently indifferent to the terrible damage they are inflicting on our economy.
The U.S. has still not ratified CUSMA. Canadians should hope CUSMA fails. According to a study conducted by the C.D Howe Institute, Canada’s real GDP stands to shrink by -0.4 percent and our economic welfare will fall by over USD $10 billion.
We need to start over. Kick out of our country the foreign money interests that have no allegiance to Canada and are interfering and creating havoc in our resource communities. We need a new set of negotiators after the election. Negotiators that recognize there is more to this country than Ontario and Quebec.