Softwood package

The owner of a local sawmill said he doesn’t want hand-outs from Ottawa, he wants the softwood lumber dispute with the United States resolved.
Kendal Lundy, president and owner of Nickel Lake Lumber, about 20 km east of Fort Frances, was not impressed by the $246.5-million aid package announced last Tuesday by federal Natural Re-sources minister Herb Dhaliwal.
“I’m not going to expect to see anything,” Lundy said yesterday.
That isn’t to say that his business hasn’t been hit hard by the current softwood dispute, which heated up after a five-year managed trade agreement with the U.S. expired in March, 2001.
“We’ve lost probably 70 percent of our sales to the United States because of this,” Lundy remarked.
The tariff tug-of-war also has led to major changes in his business.
“We’re going to more Canadian sources and changing what we make by having more different products, more value-added stuff,” Lundy explained.
So far, he said his employees have been fortunate.
“It hasn’t affected our workers yet. The mill has been under renovations and we haven’t sawed lumber in the last three months,” he noted.
But Lundy also said he doesn’t expect this issue will be resolved anytime soon.
“I don’t think that President Bush likes the prime minister at all and that is a big problem,” he argued.
Still, he wants to see something done, especially from local MP Robert Nault, who also is the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
“I’ve never been able to talk to him. I’ve been trying to meet with him all summer and he never got back to me,” Lundy charged.
“I’d like them to settle this dispute, that would be a good thing to do,” he added. “I’d like guys like Bob Nault to have meetings and come through and tell us what’s going on.”
Nault last week hailed the softwood lumber package—which would see Ottawa spend $71 million to assist displaced workers, $110 million for a community adjustment fund, and $40 million for targeted measures to combat the mountain pine beetle epidemic—as a key step in addressing the issue.
“I’m encouraged that the Government of Canada will assist our softwood lumber producers,” he said in a press release.
“It is unfortunate that the United States government has put Canada in a position that clearly is unfair, and that unfairness has lead to undo hardship for our industry and American consumers,” Nault added.
He also said the U.S. government should abide by the World Trade Organization’s tribunal decision, which stated that Canadian softwood lumber producers have not been subsidized.
“Our forest companies are among the most competitive in the world and they should not be penalized for their efficiency,” Nault argued.
“I would hope that the United States will practice what they preach and that is free trade not selected trade at their convenience,” he concluded.