Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Emerson the softwood saviour? Yeah, not so much

From Politics Watch via Coyne. You know how Liberal traitor David Emerson joined the Conservative cabinet to solve the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. and save Canada? Well, not so fast.

Turns out the former president and CEO of Canfor Corp., Canada's largest forestry companies, signed a public decleration of recusal in November 2004 with the ethics commissioner forbidding him from being involved in matters that directly involve Canfor. And Canfor is specifically named by the U.S.'s anti-dumping case at the heart of the dispute. So yeah, the softwood dispute involves Canfor.

"In order to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest situation from arising, I have undertaken, in the exercise of my duties and responsibilities to abstain from any participation in discussions or decision-making processes involving direct dealings with Canfor Corporation, its subsidiaries and affiliates."

- Emerson's letter

Maybe Harper could have found out about the letter if he'd returned the ethics commissioner's phone calls?

Well, so much for that idea Stephen. And no, we don't want him back in our caucus. Jack Layton, I'm looking at you....balance of power....whadya say?

Softwood may be too hot to handle for Emerson
by Romeo St. Martin
[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:00 p.m. February 8, 2006]

OTTAWA — Questions are being raised about whether David Emerson, the newly appointed Trade Minister will be able to work on the softwood lumber file, the most pressing file in his department.

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Alison said...

OK, but the next line in Emerson's letter of recusal states:

"However, this measure is not
intended to prevent me from participating in discussions and carrying
out my official duties and responsibilities with respect to issues
of general application or relating to any industry sector in which
Canfor Corporation, its subsidiaries and affiliates may operate."

So unfortunately I'd say his ass is covered here.
Basically he's only promised not to actively lobby on CanFor's behalf, or give the appearance of doing so, while in office.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I've got to disagree Alison. That section means he can still make decisons/be involved in forest industry issues, as long as as the corporate interests of Canfor aren't directly involved.

So, we could/did work on the Liberal's assistance plan for communities hit hard by the softwood dispute, for example.

But on the trade dispute with the U.S., Canfor is directly named as a party in the suit filed by the U.S. government. The company is also paying a countervailing duty that has to be well into the hundreads of millions by now. A key part of the dispute? The companies want that money back.

It's pretty clear Canfor's interests are directly involved, so according to his own letter he has no choice but to recuse himself.

Gazetteer said...


Sure glad to know that Mr. Emerson really, truly made his decision based on the best interests of his constituents, the good folks of Canf...errrr...Vancouver Kingway that live along the Fraser St corridor.

Red Tory said...

From his bio on the revamped government website:

David Emerson was first elected to the House of Commons in 2004 and was named Minister of Industry in July 2004. He was re-elected in 2006.


Now there is talk that he was in discussions with Harper and the Conservatives even before the election... Should be interesting to see where that goes.

Stephen said...

In August 2000, Canfor CEO David Emerson was named to the board of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.

In September 2000, a subsidiary of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates won a contract from a government/forestry industry trio that included Canfor to provide forestry management information.

Is this sort of thing at all unusual?

A BCer in Toronto said...


He wasn't in government at the time, or even a Liberal, so I don't think it can be said there was any impropriety from that angle. It seems like regular corporate activity to me, but I'm not familiar with the details.