Prime Minister announces Canada and U.S. reach softwood deal

Ottawa, Ontario
27 April 2006

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Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members…

The importance of Canada’s resource industries

Since re-entering Parliament, I have spent considerable time addressing the critical issues facing Canada’s resource industries.

While most Canadians live in cities, much of our economic success as a nation depends on the health of our farms, our forests and our fisheries. 

Our mines, our rivers and the oil patch. 

Our resources are but a part of our heritage.

It is industries that create jobs.

Industries that sustain our communities.

Industries that make a vital contribution to our well-being as a country.

Amongst the many issues facing the resource sectors, one of my greatest concerns as Prime Minister has been the longstanding softwood lumber dispute.

As all parliamentarians know, resolving this conflict is of the utmost importance.

For our industry. 

For communities that depend on softwood lumber. 

For forestry workers and their families.

The deal

I am pleased, therefore, to announce to you that we have reached an agreement

  • an agreement that will at long last end this conflict.

I am pleased to announce today that the United States has accepted Canada’s key conditions for the resolution of the softwood lumber dispute.

Canada’s bargaining position was strong.  Our conditions were clear.  And this agreement delivers.

  • Canada asked for stable and predictable access to the U.S. market. 
  • The U.S. has agreed to provide Canadian producers with unrestricted access under current market conditions. 
  • Let’s be very clear: with the prices that the market currently commands, this means no quotas and no tariffs.
  • Canada asked for the return of duty deposits. 
  • The U.S. has agreed to return at least four billon dollars U.S. of duties to Canadian producers.   
  • Again, let’s be clear: our industry will receive a minimum of four billion US dollars.
  • Canada asked the United States to take into account different operating conditions.
  • The U.S. has agreed to show flexibility toward our provinces and our regions
  • Canada, tired of legal wrangling, asked for a long-term solution. 
  • The U.S. has agreed to a seven-year deal with possibility of renewal.
  • Canada asked for an exemption for Atlantic producers. 
  • The U.S. agreed.
  • Canada requested an exemption for Quebec border mills
  • The U.S. agreed.
  • Finally, Canada has long expressed concern about other nations gaining U.S. market share at Canada’s expense. 
  • The U.S. has agreed to third country provisions to cover such a situation.

This agreement benefits us all.

Stable and predictable market access.

$4 billion in returned duties.

Provincial flexibility.

A long-term deal. 

This is what Canada wanted. 

This is what Canada got. 

This, colleagues, is a good deal.

A deal that resolves this long-standing dispute and allows us to move on.

Move on to other challenges facing the Canadian forest industry.

Move on to other issues affecting the Canada-US trade relationship.

Move on to finding new outlets for North American lumber in world markets.

How did we get here

Today’s agreement is the product of intense engagement by our Government. 

For my part, I have used every opportunity to remind the President of this issue, and to urge quick action.

Our ministers and our officials got right down to business.

Together, they have doggedly pursued a deal that defends Canada’s national interests, and helps Canadian companies, communities and workers.

In particular, I would like to thank my colleague, who is in Washington right now, the Honourable member for Vancouver-Kingsway, The Minister of International Trade …

… and also the Honourable member for Beauce, the Minister of Industry, who is also in Washington.

I also want to thank Michael Wilson, our Ambassador to the United States…

… as well as Claude Carrière, our Deputy Head of Mission in Washington.

And having consulted our provincial and industry partners, I am pleased to announce that British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario,

  • The provinces representing the vast majority of Canada’s softwood production, have given us their support.

Premier Gordon Campbell.

Premier Jean Charest.

Premier Dalton McGuinty.

I thank them for working with us.

I thank them for forcefully defending and advancing their provinces’ interests and Canada’s national interest.

Moving forward

In conclusion, I would like to say that this agreement demonstrates that when we focus on the achievable;

When we work hard in pursuit of our goals;

And when we put the national interest first, we can get results.

Make no mistake, this agreement does not solve all of the challenges facing the forestry industry. 

But it is an important step. 

And as I indicated, it will allow us to address a number of other key bilateral questions affecting Canadian jobs, Canadian families and Canadian communities.

Today is a good day. 

I look forward to continuing our work with the industry, our provinces and our trading partners to build a stronger Canada.   

Thank you.

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