Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lumbering Along

Here's the full text of the proposed softwood lumber deal.

Boiled down to its essence:

--We get 80% of the export tariffs imposed on our lumber back;
--We'll cap our exports to 34% of the U.S. market and pay surcharges for any excesses.

For a deal that roughly restores the status quo ante, it's getting a rough ride from the industry:

Shares of Canadian lumber companies dropped Thursday ahead of Mr. Harper's news, as a slew of analysts derided the tentative deal.

"The deal is awful. It basically marginalizes the Canadian industry over the next seven years," Richard Kelertas, an analyst at Desjardins Securities, said in an interview.

"Even if the Americans make some modifications to this, it is still a trap for the Canadians. The trap is that there is no language to exit, so they will be trapped in this bad deal for seven years."


Mr. Kelertas, the Desjardins Securities analyst, said that the original deal flew in the face of the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization regulations, which state that cross-border deals are illegal. "The danger here is that you set a very dangerous precedent by saying that NAFTA is no good and can be argued by the Americans that it is unconstitutional."

Incredible to see all the same people who were whining about NAFTA now whining that NAFTA isn't being followed.

Perhaps this wasn't the best deal we hoped for, but given how badly the previous government poisoned relations with the U.S., it was the best we could get under a new, less hostile government.

Still, an imperfect solution is better than no solution and thousands of lumber industry workers being thrown out of work as a result.


Joanne (True Blue) said...

Boy, I don't even pretend to understand the ins and outs of this one. You gotta figure that Emerson and company would get the best deal they could. There was a small window of opportunity to work in. Time will tell, I guess.

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Harper, the softwood "deal", and implications for Canada.

"Sellout" Stephen has "resolved" the softwood dispute, so the news says. He has done this by going on bended knee to a President who has gained a reputation – not shared by any other President to date – for spurning legalities, ignoring the rule of law, and unilaterally breaking legally binding treaties entered into between nations.

In so doing, Sellout Stephen has agreed to allow the USA to breach its obligations owed to Canada under a legally binding treaty (NAFTA), despite clear court and tribunal decisions supporting Canada's position.

What are the implications of this incredibly shortsighted and stupid decision by this so-called "policy wonk" Prime Minister? Here are a few:

• Harper has telegraphed to the USA and to others that Canada will not insist on legally binding international treaties being upheld.

• Harper and his New Tories have shown that Canada is run by a weak government, which can be easily browbeaten, and which will settle for less than the country is entitled to.

• Harper has shown contempt for the rule of law equal to the contempt shown by Bush during his failed presidency. This is a new and dangerous path for a Prime Minister of Canada to tread, and reveals a startling moral lack on the part of the New Tories.

• Harper will sell out any principles for short term political gain, especially if by doing so he can curry favour with the USA.

The question can now be asked: Who speaks for Canada?

Apparently not this Prime Minister.

It is time for him to go.