Statement by the Prime Minister on the softwood lumber agreement


August 22, 2006
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement announcing an agreement in principle to resolve the softwood lumber dispute.

“On April 27, I informed the House of Commons that Canada’s New Government had reached an agreement in principle with the United States to resolve the longstanding softwood lumber dispute.

“This agreement delivers:

·  Stable and predictable access to the U.S. market.

·  The repayment of four billion dollars of disputed duties.

·  Provincial and regional flexibility.

·  And perhaps most importantly, certainty – instead of costly litigation.

“The agreement in principle quickly won support from the major exporting provinces of British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, as well as from Atlantic Canada and a significant percentage of Canada’s softwood industry.

“Indeed, hundreds of communities and hundreds of thousands of Canadians whose livelihoods depend on this critical sector welcomed the agreement in principle as an important step toward protecting jobs and prosperity.

“And as you all know, following the preparation of a legal text, Canada’s New Government then asked individual producers – more than 300 in total, to advise us about their specific intentions to support the agreement or continue with litigation.

“I am pleased to announce today that we have received a clear majority of support from companies in all regions.

“Canada’s New Government will proceed with implementation of this agreement when Parliament resumes sitting this fall.

“This agreement demonstrates what can happen when governments roll up their sleeves, focus on their objectives and set out to get things done for families and taxpayers.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and look forward to the next step in Parliament.

“For Parliament, the choice will be clear.

“Members of Parliament will be asked to support an agreement that is backed by:

·  Two national governments.

·  All major softwood-producing provinces

·  And the clear majority of Canadian producers.

“While the other parties have been vocal in their opposition to this agreement, its passage is in the interests of our lumber industry, Canada’s regional economics and the Canada-US trade relationship.

“This agreement will end years of costly legal wrangling, and allow us to move on to build a stronger, more prosperous Canada – for all of us.

“As such, and because of its fiscal measures, the vote on this will be a confidence measure.

“In conclusion, I would like to thank a number of people for their hard work and support.

“First and foremost, Trade Minister David Emerson. Minister Emerson’s dogged determination on this file has been key to our success to date.

“Second, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier. Minister Bernier has ably assisted Minister Emerson throughout the process.

“And finally, I’d like to thank the Premiers of the three largest softwood-producing provinces. Premier Gordon Campbell, Premier Jean Charest and Premier Dalton McGuinty have put their country first.”

The Prime Minister’s Office - Communications
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