Monday, March 27, 2006

The softwood dispute is only getting worse

All has been quiet on the softwood front for some time now, at least in Ottawa. But a story in the Comox Valley Record last week shows the situation is only getting worse for the people and businesses of coastal B.C.

I must have missed this story in the national media but apparently in early March, at the request of the "Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports" (an oxymoron if there ever was one, they're the U.S. lumber lobby responsible for this dispute) the Bush Administration extended their anti-dumping and countervailing duties to items that had previously not been covered.

This has always been about protectionism and not "fair lumber imports" and that is readily apparent with how this new measure by the U.S. has impacted the Woodland Flooring Company Ltd., an 11-person floor manufacturer in Comox, B.C.

These guys buy their wood from independent lots that aren't impacted by stumpage fees, as well as beetle-kill sales and windfall reclamation. Yet after this latest decision, they're now hit by the duty.

To add insult to injury, the duty is bizarrely calculated on the cost of the finished product and not the wood they use (which shouldn't be covered anyway). Their business is value-add, as the article says of the $10 to $12 final cost of their product, only $2 to $3 is the wood. The duty makes his product 25 per cent more expensive.

So, two months into this Conservative government things are only getting worse on this softwood front. I know this isn't one of the vaunted five priorities, but could someone in the Harper cabinet, or perhaps Mr. Harper himself, let the people of coastal B.C. know what they're doing about this? Mr. Emerson? Anyone?

Before the recent election the riding was represented by a Conservative MP, and were he still around and were the Liberals still in government, I know exactly what he'd say about this story. Probably pretty close to what his NDP replacement said:

Local NDP MP Catherine Bell said it is unfair — and their responsibility in Parliament will be pushing the Conservative government to do something about it.

“This issue needs to be settled; it’s hurting North Island communities,” she said. “[Prime Minister Stephen] Harper needs to use his relationship with George Bush and take a tough stand, as he promised, and end this.”

She said this expansion of tariffs is just proof that as long as the federal government stands by on the issue Canadians will continue to be taken advantage of.

So, the ball is in your court Mr. Harper. This latest provocation wasn't a Senate decision; it was made by the administration of your friend. Mr. Bush. While in opposition you and your colleagues constantly derided Liberal efforts on this file, and pledged you'd do better. Just be nice to them and it will all be better.

Well, it's not getting better, it's getting worse. And we're waiting.

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Zorpheous said...

Harper doesn't care one rats ass about the issue. It is like bitching about Liberals giving entitlement appointments and like that. But now the CPC are in power the rules have changed, MP are told to STFU and stay on message, five points or STFU, if it isn't part of Harper Communication policy it is STFU.

This will work for a little while, but the media and the oppisition psrties will start to beat the crap out him. Harper can silince this own party, but that will not silence everyone else.

S.K. said...

Wow, nicely done. Surprising this wasn't picked up in National media sources, maybe you should e-mail them, even the Vancouver media should have run this. Hmm???