Clark government has failed to protect B.C. softwood interests, New Democrats say

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forestVICTORIA – Friday’s announcement of potential sanctions against B.C. lumber show that Christy Clark has failed to make sure British Columbia’s interests are a priority for the federal government, say the New Democrats.

The protectionist U.S. lumber lobby has asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to set in motion actions that could lead to duties on Canadian softwood.

“Christy Clark assured workers and forest-dependent communities that she was going to personally intervene and make sure the federal government would get a new softwood lumber agreement with the U.S.,” said New Democrat Leader John Horgan. “Friday’s announcement from Washington shows this was just another in a long line of empty Christy Clark promises.

“Premier Clark said she would get softwood on the federal agenda, just like she said she’d get a world-class oil spill response on the federal agenda, just like she said she’d get improved health transfer payments on the federal agenda.

“The premier talks a good game, but despite her empty words, we’re now heading toward another round of punitive, unfair sanctions against B.C. products, something that could cost even more jobs in our hard-hit forest sector,” said Horgan.

Under the Liberals, more than 25,000 family supporting forestry jobs have been lost.

“Compounding that failure, the province took no meaningful steps to prepare for the possibility of trade sanctions,” said New Democrat spokesperson for softwood lumber, Bruce Ralston.

“Everyone knew more than a year ago that this deadline was coming, but instead of working to ensure B.C.’s industry, communities and workers were prepared, the premier chose to make false claims about getting Ottawa to finalize a new agreement.”

The agreement expired Oct. 13, 2015, at which time an automatic one-year standstill kicked in, during which time no trade actions could be launched.

“Forestry is an industry vital to communities in every corner of B.C., said Ralston, “so it’s a critical failure for the government to be so unprepared for this action by the U.S.”