Political candidates react to softwood lumber announcement

Announcement of an imposed tariff on Canadian softwood lumber has caused much debate over what will happen to Canada’s forestry industry.

President Trump’s announcement of an imposed tariff of 20 per cent on Canadian softwood lumber has caused much debate over what will happen to Canada’s forestry industry.

In the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding the imposed tariff is a prominent issue for MLA candidates to discuss, as the riding already lost the mill in the Village of Canal Flats in recent years. In a riding that depends on forestry for jobs, two of the six candidates commented on the issue and what they believe needs to be done.

“I am very concerned for every family across our region that depends on forestry jobs. 60,000 British Columbians work in the forestry industry. Almost 10,000 of those jobs were created over the last 6 years as we’ve worked to diversify our industry by increasing our exports to Asia by 2000% so we aren’t as dependent on the US,” said Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok.

Clovechok went on to state that B.C. needs strong leadership, saying that the Americans are trade bullies.

“The Americans are trade bullies. But, our government has been here before. We know how to get to a fair deal for B.C., and we’ve hired the guy who negotiated the last one, David Emerson,” said Clovechok. “Compare that with the NDP’s negotiating strategy. John Horgan said “good luck with that!,” when asked about his, and Gerry Taft’s response was to wait until Trump is impeached.”

NDP candidate Gerry Taft criticized how the Christy Clark government has handled the softwood lumber situation calling it a disaster.

“There is no question that the tariffs will have an immediate negative impact on BC exports, and Canadian companies and workers will suffer. But it is important to remember that this situation has come about under the watch of the Christy Clark government. Clark’s handling of the softwood lumber situation has been a disaster, and there are many who see her lack of action on this file as directly the result of corporate donations to the BC Liberal party,” said Taft.

Canada and the United States of America have been without a softwood lumber agreement since October 12th, 2015. Taft stated that Christy Clark had the opportunity to deal on softwood lumber with the Obama administration but chose not to.

“We are now learning that Christy Clark had the opportunity to get a deal on softwood lumber with the Obama administration, but chose to gamble BC jobs and our forest industry by doubling down on a bad bet; thinking that she could negotiate a better deal with the Trump administration,” said Taft.

Clovechok criticized Taft’s statement that negotiations should wait until Trump is impeached, Taft responded with the following. “I’ve been criticized for my comments about how difficult it will now be to get a deal with Trump, but I stand by those comments,” said Taft. Taft then went on to say that this fight will take time, that British Columbia needs a fair deal.

“We need to fight for a fair deal for British Columbia, but we have to accept that this fight will take time and, in the short term, we will feel the pain of Christy Clark’s misguided admiration for President Trump,” said Taft.

While Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok suggested that it is leadership that is needed to get Canada a fair deal.

“What we need right now is serious leadership and we’re seeing that from Premier Christy Clark. I will keep fighting for the mill workers in Revelstoke, Golden and Radium, and everyone else who depends on forestry for their paycheque in Columbia River-Revelstoke,” said Clovechok.

The Echo was unable to get a comment from Green party candidate Samson Boyer, Independent candidate Justin Hooles, Libertarian candidate Rylan Kashuba, or Independent Duncan Boyd-MacLeod before going to press.