Opinion

EDITORIAL: Same old lumber story

Every time the Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement expires, the howls from south of the border begin, the trade fight starts and angst over job security sets in across B.C.

Yes, Donald Trump is spouting more protectionist drivel than most of his predecessors. However, his stance on softwood is hardly original and crosses U.S. political party lines.

Think about a president of the last 50 years who is less like Trump than all of the others. Jimmy Carter would be a good one. Yet Carter was a protectionist when it came to lumber as much any of the others, perhaps more. Carter’s home state of Georgia has a softwood lumber industry that needs to be protected from that evil Canadian lumber.

That was put to the test about a decade back. Media called some home construction firms in Georgia and asked about the differences between Canadian and Georgian lumber. They all preferred Canadian lumber. A two-by-four from Georgia, we were told, often needed a hole drilled into it before a nail could be hammered home.

The U.S. argument remains the same: the fees Canadian provincial governments charge lumber companies here to cut trees (stumpage) are too low and constitute an unfair subsidy. Therefore, the price of lumber on the shelves of doit-yourself box stores in the U.S. is too low, squeezing out the U.S. lumber producers.

It will get settled after some sabre-rattling. It always does. And the elephant in the room — the superior quality of lumber from B.C. — won’t be discussed.

— Black Press

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