The latest hot issue for international trade critic Gerry Ritz to deal with: softwood lumber disputes.
News that the U.S. Department of Commerce had imposed countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports had Ritz as well as Randy Hoback, Official Opposition Critic for Canada-US Relations, steaming.
But their outrage was directed not so much at President Donald Trump, but at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“The Liberal government has failed forestry workers, their families and whole communities by not securing a new softwood lumber agreement. With the imposition of duties that average about 20 per cent, the Liberals now admit that their failure will inevitably lead to job losses in Canada,” said Ritz in a joint statement.
In their news release, the Conservatives claimed that negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement “has never been a priority for Justin Trudeau and his government.” They said those working in Canada’s forests and mills deserved stability and predictability from the government.
The government was also accused of inaction that would cost thousands of rural Canadians their jobs. Ritz and Hoback said companies like the First Nations-owned sawmill NorSask Forest Products barely survived the last dispute and would be hit hard by more countervailing duties and antidumping duties expected as soon as June.
Ritz and Hoback added the provinces have lost trust in the Liberal government and started to appoint their own envoys to the US.
“For a government that likes to pretend to stand up for middle class Canadians, the Liberals clearly have no plan to protect thousands of well-paying forestry jobs that will be lost under their watch.”