Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Clark Warns Knee-Jerk Response to Softwood Duties Could Undermine Talks

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Clark Warns Knee-Jerk Response to Softwood Duties Could Undermine Talks

Article excerpt

Clark calls for calm in wake of softwood duties


VANCOUVER - The softwood lumber dispute sidetracked the British Columbia election campaign Tuesday as every party leader pivoted to address the impact a new tariff will have on a key industry in the province.

Premier Christy Clark held a meeting with members of her cabinet as she suspended campaigning for the May 9 election and cautioned against knee-jerk reactions to the duties that would jeopardize negotiations.

"This needs to be calm. Cooler heads need to prevail," the Liberal leader said outside a lumber mill in Maple Ridge.

Clark said the government tried to persuade the previous administration of Barack Obama to reach a new deal on softwood, but the U.S. didn't want to negotiate.

"It's my hope that the Trump administration, despite some of the rhetoric that we've seen, because they have been squarely focused on American jobs and growing the economy, will recognize that choking off the supply of Canadian softwood is only going to kill jobs. It's going to make houses way more expensive and that's going to be a real drag on American economic growth," she added.

The U.S. is imposing duties of up to 24 per cent on lumber imports from Canada.

Former federal cabinet minister David Emerson, who Clark appointed as the provincial softwood envoy, said small forestry operations could be hurt almost immediately by the duties, but high lumber prices and a low Canadian dollar will keep most B.C. companies working at full force.

"We're a ways away from seeing a blood bath in the woods," he said.

New Democrat Leader John Horgan says he's disappointed by the American tariffs and is accusing Clark of failing to make the ongoing trade dispute enough of a priority.

"After sitting idly by and watching 30,000 fewer people work in the forest sector over the past 16 years, I'm not surprised Christy Clark and the Liberals are once again doing nothing," he said at a campaign stop outside a hospital in Burnaby.

The forest sector in B. …

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