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Canada Rolls Over on Softwood

From August 10, 2008

Some were optimistic when it was announced that the Canadian Government had reached a deal with the United States that would end the Softwood Lumber stand off. That is, until they learned what was written in the actual deal.

Ellott Feldman, former director of the Canadian-American Business Council and economic law specialist, had this to say regarding the Softwood 'Deal' brought about by Stephen Harper and David Emerson: "This is a deal that is entirely one-sided - there is nothing discernible in the agreement in Canada's interest... The reason the Canadian industry has fallen into what's euphemistically being called support for the agreement is because they have been bled dry. Their profits for five years have gone into the U.S. treasury."

Stephen Harper had a different view of the bill - the bill was a success. Under the existing market conditions, Harper claimed before parliament that:

  • the deal would return to Canadian producers about $4 billion dollars in US tariffs. (Ignore that the Americans had taken $5 billion from Canadian Companies)
  • the deal was a long-term, seven year deal. (Ignore that the bill has a clause allowing the United States to unilaterally back out after 23 months)
  • the deal would impose no quota. (Ignore that there was in fact a cap set at 34 percent share)
  • the deal would impose no tariffs. (Ignore that an export tax of between 5 and 15 per cent exists today)

All in all, it was a bad deal that should have never been signed. Stephen Harper either misled the people or he misled himself.