Softwood deal not for us

There are some issues of such importance to us in the Northwest that they must remain in the front of our minds. The recent softwood lumber “deal” bears a thorough explanation.
It is true that we are all tired of the extensive negotiations and our companies are hurting for cash flow. The idea of illegal tariffs was part of the strategy of American lumber companies to bleed us out of their market.
By dragging out this issue they have successfully reduced the number of Canadian competitors. The Americans had exhausted their false challenges and we had all of the court rulings in OUR favour.
The U.S. had no case left for these illegal tariffs which is why they are now rushing for a deal. Perseverance on the part of Canadian negotiators would soon have given us the victory.
The previous government had represented the best and future interests of our industry. We had worked towards:
i) the return of all illegal tariffs;
ii) the payment of interest on tariffs collected;
iii) fair access;
iv) reasonable quotas; and,
v) an end to the dispute.
The Conservative government has loudly proclaimed a “successful” settlement. Here’s what they have agreed to:
i) only 78 percent of tariffs returned ($4 Billion);
ii) no interest paid on tariffs;
iii) restricted access to US markets;
iv) tight quotas;
v) a two-year deal that can be ended with only one month’s notice;
vi) all previous legal decisions made useless;
vii) dismantling of the dispute panel; and
viii) we paid the Americans legal bills.
If the deal had been fair and taken into consideration the interests of the Ontario Forest Industry Association, the Canadian Lumber Manufacturers, and many other national and provincial organizations, I would be writing to say that we should accept this deal as the best possible settlement available.
In fact, this deal actually got worse during final negotiations since its April announcement.
I wish I could say there are some roses in this deal, but I believe that many lumber companies in the Northwest will face a much tougher future because of it. As a result our skilled workers, suppliers, and each of our communities will be affected.
The only ray of sunshine is that a large number of companies are resisting; they are telling the government to negotiate a deal that is more positive for Canadians.
Please join me by raising your voice to call for a fair and conclusive deal.
Numerous issues on summer agenda
The House of Commons has now recessed for the summer and I am pleased that I now will be able to work in the riding offices throughout the week.
In addition to travelling across the riding to attend a variety of community events, I will continue to work on a number of issues of importance to our riding.
•Bombardier contract
Negotiations between the Toronto Transit Commission and Bombardier are continuing; however, there has been significant pressure within Toronto city council to open the bidding to other parties.
I will continue to work with my fellow elected members and Bombardier officials to promote the Thunder Bay plant as the best option for this significant contract.
I encourage residents from across the riding to add your voice of support by visiting www.madeincanadabiz.com
•Softwood lumber
I firmly believe the softwood lumber agreement is a bad deal for Northwestern Ontario’s forestry industry and I continually have questioned the prime minister and the minister of International Trade regarding my concerns.
Throughout the summer, I will continue to pressure the Harper government to work for a deal that is fair to our industry.
•Passports
The U.S. proposal to require passports for all persons entering their borders has been facing severe criticism from groups from both Canada and the United States.
Now is our chance to make an even stronger case for alternatives to passports and I am working with local tourism groups to push resolve this issue.
•Energy
As we know, energy costs are a significant challenge for industry in Northwestern Ontario, especially energy-intensive operations in the pulp and paper and mining sectors.
I will continue to work with NOMA and my provincial colleagues to promote the need for regional energy pricing.
I would like to congratulate my provincial colleagues, Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle, for their successful efforts towards keeping the Atikokan Generating Station open.
The recent announcement by the provincial minister to delay the closure of the plant is certainly good news for our riding.
I look forward to an active summer and the opportunity to meet with constituents from across the riding to hear your issues and concerns.
If I can assist you, please contact my local office.

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