Pitiful picture

Granted, the vast majority of us are not experts on international trade and domestic subsidies, but surely everyone can see there’s something wrong with this picture.
The United States, as we all here north of the 49th parallel well know, has slapped crippling countervailing duties and anti-dumping tariffs on Canadian exports of softwood lumber, arguing we unfairly subsidize that industry through artificially low stumpage fees.
That Canada already has successfully defended its softwood industry under the North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as the World Trade Organization, clearly doesn’t matter.
So why is it, then, that the U.S. House of Representatives approved a farm bill last week which authorizes about $180 million (U.S.) in new subsidies over 10 years? A bill the U.S. Senate was expected to approve today before forwarding it to President George W. Bush for his John Hancock.
Is this not a case of wanting to have their cake and eat it, too? Of Washington supporting WTO rules when they suit U.S. interests—and brazenly ignoring them when they don’t.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this ho-hum U.S. attitude towards our concerns? According to an Ipsos-Reid poll conducted last week and released yesterday, almost a third of Americans consider Canada just another state, most say Great Britain is their best ally, and many believe Japan and China are their biggest trading partners.
Canada just doesn’t register on their radar screens.
Most vexing, though, is that Canada appears unable, or worse, unwilling, to do anything. We’ve won previous trade rulings over softwood lumber, yet our industry is still getting stung. Federal and provincial agriculture ministers wrapped up a two-day meeting yesterday with a lot of rhetoric, but no action on how to counter the U.S. farm subsidies.
Where’s the fight to protect our farmers just as the U.S. did for its lumber companies?
Only in Canada, you say? Pity. And that is what’s most wrong with this picture.

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