Softwood Lumber Tarifs And Treaties
Pressured by U.S. lumber producers envious that Canada still has trees to cut and wanting to force Canada to adopt the American-style system of private ownership of forest resources, the Clinton Administration began slapping tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports in the mid-1990s. The Bush Administration, not surprisingly, saw no reason to lift the tariffs without major concessions from Canada, something which the Chretien government wasn’t about to do. All of this was troubling for the Canadian-based forestry corporations for two reasons: 1.) it was preventing them from mowing down the remaining Canadian softwood forests and cutting them into spaghetti (2×4 studs) and 2.)it created backdoor incentives for Canada’s wood-cutters to initiate value-added manufacturing, which the corporations dislike because it involves employing workers. Paul Martin brought in Canfor CEO David Emerson to negotiate an end to the tariffs on behalf of the corporations, and Stephen Harper coaxed Emerson to cross the floor of parliament to continue his corporate philanthropy. The agreement to end the tariffs, now more-or-less concluded, reinstates Canada as a Third World style spaghetti cutter and log exporter, and will ensure that the hinterlands remain relatively free of value-adding manufacturing and workers who might join a union.