Softwood lumber dispute to get summer study at trade committee
Fresh cut logs are stacked after being harvested by loggers near Youbou, B.C. Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Monday, August 15, 2016 1:41PM EDT
The long-running softwood lumber dispute is set to get a special hearing in Ottawa as MPs on the trade committee plan to reconvene this week.
A hard-won, nine-year softwood lumber deal expired last fall, leaving Canada and the U.S. trying to reach a detente in the recurring trade war. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama put a 100-day deadline on the trade talks when they met on March 10 in Washington, but that deadline came and went in June with no resolution.
Conservative and New Democrat MPs on the trade committee sent the request for the meeting on Saturday, making Thursday the last possible day to hold a meeting.
"Softwood lumber is an important part of Canada's forest sector, and the country's softwood lumber producers rely on the exports that they send to the United States," Conservative MP Randy Hoback wrote in the letter requesting the meeting.
The MPs would like to call officials from Global Affairs to brief them on negotiations, as well as stakeholders from the softwood lumber industry, including those "who may have been overlooked in the past, especially Aboriginal stakeholders and small producers," Hoback wrote in the letter to the committee's clerk.
A joint Canada-U.S. statement released after Obama's June 29 visit to Canada said the two countries had made "important progress," but that "significant differences" remained regarding some of the key features of a potential deal.
"We are encouraged that both industries remain committed to working toward an agreement and will continue to consider ideas for achieving that objective. Our dialogue will continue and, building on the progress achieved to date, our ministers will maintain an intensive pace of engagement with a view to achieving a mutually acceptable agreement this fall," Trudeau and Obama said in the statement.
The countries are in a standstill period until Oct. 15, 2016, after which American producers can petition for new duties to make Canadian softwood more expensive in the U.S.