Quebec is hiring a former Canadian ambassador to the United States to represent its interests in the difficult softwood lumber negotiations between Canada and its southern neighbour.

Raymond Chretien was named Tuesday as Quebec's representative in the ongoing talks, which could affect thousands of lumber jobs in the province.

The Americans could start imposing duties on Quebec softwood by March 2017 if a deal can't be reached.

Chretien, ambassador to Washington between 1994 and 2000, told reporters that time is a factor in the negotiations because the United States will elect a new president Nov. 8.

The 2006 softwood lumber agreement expired a year ago but a one-year standstill period kicked in to allow an attempt at resolution.

The American softwood lobby is complaining that Canada's lumber is unfairly subsidized.