NDP MPs call for prioritization of softwood lumber agreement

The federal NDP is taking the governing Liberals to task for failing to remove U.S. duties on softwood lumber.

A trio of parliamentarians, including Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski, have written to two federal cabinet ministers asking the feds to prioritize a fair agreement on softwood lumber.

In a press release, the NDP says the issue stems from the U.S. blocking judicial appointments to the World Trade Organization’s appellate body, meaning that Canada’s appeals on the duties aren’t likely to be heard anytime soon.

“Softwood lumber is a fundamental part of Canada’s forestry sector,” said MP Wayne Stetski. “For many rural communities, it’s the backbone of our economies providing high-quality, well-paid jobs that tens of thousands of Canadians rely upon to support their families.”

The release notes that there have been a reduction in shifts at B.C. mill operations, as well as temporary and permanent closures over the last six months. The scale of the mountain pine beetle infestation and the increase in wildfire activity is also threatening the forestry industry.

The U.S. duties add to the financial sustainability of the forestry sector, added neighbouring South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings.

“Canadian producers and workers need an agreement on softwood lumber that will bring fairness and predictability,” said MP Richard Cannings.

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