Doer to swing axe for Alberta’s softwood lumber industry
Former Manitoba premier will work with other stakeholders to develop a Canadian approach to the file.
EDMONTON — A former Manitoba premier and one-time Canadian ambassador to the United States has been tabbed to play hardball for Alberta’s softwood lumber industry in Washington.
Alberta’s NDP government says in a release that Gary Doer will use his extensive network to connect government and industry to decision-makers in the US and to provide advice on advocacy.
Doer has also been asked to enhance Alberta’s working relationship with Ottawa and other provincial governments to develop a so-called team Canada approach to the softwood file.
The US Department of Commerce recently said it would subject Canadian lumber imports to tariffs ranging from three to 24 per cent.
The US administration alleges Canada’s wood comes mostly from Crown land and artificial low prices give Canadian companies an unfair advantage.
Doer is a senior business adviser at Dentons global law firm where he works on cross-border legal matters.
The Alberta government has retained Dentons at a fee of $10,000 a month for Doer’s services.
The announcement of higher tariffs marks the fifth time since 1981 that Canada and the US have sparred over softwood.
Canada has prevailed every time it has challenged the US through the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization or in the US court system.
“Doer’s experience, high profile and deep knowledge of bilateral relations will be critical to ensuring our US partners understand the significance of the US-Alberta softwood trade relationship,” Alberta Trade Minister Deron Bilous said.
“He will be a key ally in advancing our strong commitment to finding a solution to the lumber dispute.”
Doer served as Manitoba’s premier from 1999 to 2009 and was ambassador to the US from 2009 to 2016.
During his years as premier, he worked with both US and Mexico governors to improve trade and energy co-operation.