Vive Le Canada

U.S. is missing big picture in row over softwood lumber
Date: Friday, September 09 2005

U.S. is missing big picture in row over softwood lumber

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Canada's dispute with the United States over softwood lumber exports is a long-festering sore in relations between the two neighbours. The complex details of four years of argument and counter-argument are readily understood by only a handful of experts.

But for most ordinary Canadians, the squabble amounts to a growing realization that the North American Free Trade Agreement isn't working quite the way it should and that they are getting hurt as a result.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper put his finger neatly on the problem yesterday when he talked about the "apparent irrelevancy of the trade dispute mechanism" within NAFTA.

Canada wins some point at the World Trade Organization; the U.S. ignores it. And so it goes on. Endlessly.

The new U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, doesn't appear to grasp the depth of Canadian disaffection. While devoting the greater part of his speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade yesterday to lumber, he offered no new approach, merely repeating his call: "Let's negotiate."

We've been there, done that. Wilkins must understand it's no longer about softwood lumber per se; it's about fixing NAFTA. Canadians won't go on supporting a flawed agreement that works only when Washington wants it to.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on September 10, 2005]

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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