Quebec leaders mull next steps in softwood lumber dispute
Published Tuesday, June 27, 2017 6:23PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 27, 2017 7:59PM EDT
The Quebec government is calling the new tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber ‘unjustified’ and ‘abusive’ as they try to determine what to do about it.
Premier Philippe Couillard and several of his cabinet ministers met in Quebec City Tuesday with key players to discuss the softwood lumber file and upcoming NAFTA negotiations.
“This question of international trade is vital for Quebec. We need to export, we need to keep the markets open in order to create -- protect, but create also – high-quality jobs all across Quebec, in all regions,” said the premier.
The latest U.S. anti-dumping tariffs have boosted duties up to almost 27 per cent for Canadian softwood lumber producers.
“We believe that it is unjustified, like the previous tariffs that were imposed a few months ago,” said Economy Minister Dominique Anglade.
The Quebec government's negotiator on the softwood lumber file is former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Raymond Chretien, who is working alongside former Liberal cabinet minister Raymond Bachand, now a special advisor.
“Basically, this is the economy of Quebec that's at stake in this negotiation, and the premier wants to make sure that everybody shares the same information and knows exactly what's going on,” said Bachand.
Industry rep Seth Kursman of Resolute Forest Products called the new softwood lumber tariffs unfair, but said it's too soon to say what kind of impact it will have on Quebec jobs.
“At this point it's premature, but it's certainly not a good thing to have the countervailing duties or the antidumping. We believe that we should have nothing less than unencumbered access to the U.S. marketplace,” he said.
Quebec said it's hoping to reach a negotiated settlement with the U.S. but, like Ottawa, it said it's also prepared to take this dispute to court.