I am writing on behalf of the North Okanagan Labour Council regarding the proposed softwood lumber agreement. This agreement is not good for workers, communities or the forest industry in Canada.
As you are aware, the industry and government have been litigating this dispute since 2002 and have succeeded in a series of rulings in front of both WTO and NAFTA dispute resolution tribunals. In fact, as a result of our legal success, the US has been forced to reduce the tariffs and there was a very real prospect that the duties would be removed entirely.
However, despite this continuing success, Canada appears to have capitulated to American demands. Under the proposed deal we are still faced with restrictions on our access to the US market in the form of a tax and/or quota, we are agreeing to allow American oversight of our provincial forest policies, and we are leaving a billion dollars of illegally collected tariffs south of the border. To top it all off, there is nothing in the agreement to ensure the stability of employment in the forest sector or the ongoing viability of our forest dependent communities.
In light of all of this, the 10,000 affiliated members of the North Okanagan Labour Council would like a definitive answer on how you plan to vote when the softwood lumber deal comes to the floor of the House of Commons in the fall.
I look forward to your timely response.
President, North Okanagan Labour Council