Thursday, July 13, 2006

On positive movement

The Standing Committee on International Trade is off to a good start on the softwood lumber deal, passing two key motions including one which could well resolve the dispute faster than the negotiation process if the Cons were willing to follow it:
At today's emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on International trade, NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) secured majority support for a plan to review the flawed US-Canada softwood agreement.

“The Harper government would drive our softwood industry over the cliff, but resistance is coalescing," said Julian. "By passing key motions today, a majority of committee members decided to work in the best interest of Canadian producers and communities.”...

Julian's first motion calls on the committee to conduct full-day hearings on July 31 and August 21 to scrutinize the softwood document that Trade Minister David Emerson initialled on July 1 without Parliament’s approval.

His second motion calls on the government to act in Canada’s interests by unsuspending the legal process under NAFTA, which would swiftly eliminate the $40-million in illegal tariffs that the US continues to collect each month.

Julian’s motions were passed with full support from the committee's Liberal and Bloc Québécois members.
At this point, it wouldn't be surprising if a restarted legal process would resolve the issue faster than Harper's plan to shove a deal down the throats of Canadian producers. (And of course it goes without saying that in addition to potentially being faster, that result would be a far more positive outcome for Canada.)

Of course, it seems highly likely that the Cons will ignore the committee's motion...which may only serve to necessitate a full Parliamentary debate on the deal as soon as possible. But at the very least, there's no doubt that opposition to the deal will be in the public eye for quite some time to come, meaning that the Cons' chances of quietly pushing the deal on the industry behind the scenes are slim to none.

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