Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Battles won and battles yet to come

As noted by Red Tory at babble, there's been awfully little attention to the fact that Canada won another round of softwood lumber litigation last week even as the Cons were trying to fully implement their sellout. But with Gordon Gibson highlighting that fact in the Globe and Mail, Canadians may soon get yet another reminder of just how many gains the Cons were eager to bargain away:
Eat a lot of crow, convince us we should walk away from a billion dollars, or face a dangerous election issue? These are the unattractive choices facing the Harper government after a huge lumber industry victory in the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) last Friday.

That court ruled we are entitled to the return of every penny of the $5.3-billion of illegally imposed duties on our softwood exports over the years, as well as free entry of our products. But in the recent "Softwood Sellout Agreement," Ottawa said it would forgo $1-billion of the total duties owed it and agreed to a new border charge as high as 22.5 per cent.
Gibson notes that even if the Bloc continues to inexplicably side with the Cons in the House of Commons, there's always the potential for the Senate to refuse to go along with the Cons' effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And unlike the Accountability Act, this is an issue where a Senate standoff would likely further damage the Cons' popularity rather than working to the detriment of the Libs.

Of course, PMS has been far better on politics than policy so far, and may yet be able to rattle enough sabres against the Senate to push the measure through. But it's doubtful that many Canadians will be eager to hand Harper a majority solely for the sake of allowing him to continue giving gifts to his soulmate to the south...meaning that PMS could easily end up on the wrong side of his usual brinksmanship if the Libs in the Senate are paying enough attention.

(Edit: corrected source in first paragraph.)

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