BC taps David Emerson as trade envoy on softwood lumber

Former trade minister signed the last agreement in 2006, ending the fourth Canada-US dispute.

February 15, 2017   by CP STAFF

VICTORIA — Former federal cabinet minister David Emerson has been appointed the BC government’s trade envoy to try and reach a new softwood lumber deal with the United States.

The province says David Emerson will also work with the federal government to get a new agreement.

Emerson served in a number of federal cabinet portfolios for the Liberals and Conservatives including industry, foreign affairs and trade.

As trade minister, Emerson signed the last softwood lumber agreement in 2006, ending the fourth Canada-US lumber dispute.

He also worked as CEO of lumber producer Canfor, which the province says gives him a “broad base of knowledge to defend BC’s forest policies” when negotiating with the US.

Industry advocates and the provincial government have said they will try to convince American consumers and politicians that a fair softwood lumber deal is necessary to protect the U.S. from import restrictions and higher prices.

Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, has warned that restrictions on Canada’s lumber supply would cause house prices in the US to spike, pushing home ownership out of the reach of some Americans.

BC Premier Christy Clark said securing a new agreement matters to people across the province, particularly those who work in the forestry industry.

“Defending those jobs for British Columbians is our absolute priority,” she said at a news conference on Feb. 14 after the government’s throne speech.

Clark said Emerson will part of a team that is making sure BC’s case is “well-known and wisely argued” to the new US administration.

“He is probably the most skillful and knowledgeable person in this area that we could send down to the States on our behalf,” she said.

Emerson said in a statement that he’s excited about his new post.

“I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the BC lumber industry and Canadian ambassador to the USA, David MacNaughton, as we defend BC companies, workers and communities against the false subsidy allegations made by the US lumber industry,” he said.

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