Grande Prairie-Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin says that it’s unacceptable and unfair to the Canadian Forestry sector after the United States announced a raise on duties for Canadian softwood lumber to 17.9%.
Warkentin says forestry is a huge part of the economy in the Peace Country, as the Peace Region is one of the top two Alberta regions for forestry production, with two major Forestry Management Agreements in the Peace Region covering nearly two million hectares of land, with over 1.3 million hectares of harvesting land.
Warkentin is very concerned about how this will affect local companies and their ability to employ people.
“I believe that while the producers have been able to make ends meet with the duties that were imposed in the past because of the high prices, that will become far more difficult as these duties increase and as lumber prices continue to level off. We’ve already heard of mills curtailing operations in other parts of the country and we want this issue resolved before it affects jobs in the Peace Country,” he says.
“It’s something we have been talking to the government about and making them aware of for years now. We believe there was an opportunity as far back as the Obama administration if Justin Trudeau had made it a priority,” he explains. “We believe the issues between Canada and the United States could’ve been resolved then. The biggest slap in the face was not that they were announcing the curtailment of those duties but in fact, doubling them. I believe that the Canadian government did not give this issue the attention it deserves.”
Warkentin says that the raise in tariffs is concern, suggesting the current U.S. administration has been harsh on other Canadian industries, too.
“We’re talking about an administration in the United States that’s been harsh to Canadians. Not only in the forestry sector, but also in the automotive sector, and oil and gas sector. It seems to me that are shutting down buying natural resources from us and taking every opportunity to buy those resources from other nations.”
On December 21st, 2021, the Canadian government launched a challenge on the American duties on Canadian softwood lumber under the terms of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal.