Softwood lumber dispute

By Adam Rutter
January 23, 2003
A week after the United States tacked a back-breaking twenty-nine (29) percent duty on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the United States, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell spoke up.

Premier Campbell called the United States decision to increase the duties brutal. An assault on all canadians who had stepped up to help the Americans in their time of need after the horrible September 11th, terrorist attacks.

After Canada has offered "any and all" assistance to the United States to combat terrorism, this duty is the most serious threat to Canada-United States relations most likely of all time.

Premier Campbell offered no real solutions of re-assurances. British Columbia exports over 5 billion dollars of softwood lumber to the United States each year, which currently returns a profit of about 200 million dollars a year.

With the newly imposed duties, it will mean the profits we have seen in previous years will become large deficits. Currently, the forestry industry has had to lay off over 15,000 workers because of the duty increase. This number with double or triple in the coming months leaving smaller, and some of the larger, communities struggling and families trying to cope with the loss of household income.

While Canada and the United States continue to try to come to an agreement regarding softwood lumber export duties, many associations have their own ideas on what should be done to combat the problem with the United States.

The IWA has been urging Canadians to boycot all US based companies such as Safeway, Walmart, Office Depot, Staples, and many others as well.

One woman who we talked with, who wished to remain anonymous, told us "It makes me sick, they won't see my buying from any US based stores. We (as Canadians) are virtually defenseless to this, we have to do something and show them (the United States) that the times of a passive nation are over and we now stand United in our protest."

Another man, Dave, whom we contacted had this to say. "It is pointless to boycott US based stores. Most of those stores are owned by local people who want to make a living. A boycott would hurt the consumers and the economy. Our leaders have to find a spine and stand up for this great country."

Although, we, at Canadian Content, are not in favour of a boycott of all US based businesses, it has been the only real method offered to help combat our current situation with the United States.

The BC and federal governments are now going to launch an Ad campaign in the United States arguing that the new increased softwood lumber duty allows American resellers to charge even more money for lumber, skyrocketing the cost of homes.

Most say it's too little too late. In the meantime, we as Canadians just have to wait and see how it all turns out. One thing is for sure, the end is not near.

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