Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bending over for Canada

The CP reports that while the Cons' main softwood lumber capitulation may be over and done with, Canadian negotiators are still looking for ways to give away even more in meetings provided for under the agreement:
Canadian and U.S. government representatives will sit down in Washington next Thursday and Friday for the first meeting of the top binational committee.

The Canadians are likely to hear some grumbling about Quebec and Ontario programs aimed at helping their struggling forest industries. Officials say they're confident they can demonstrate to the Americans the programs don't subsidize lumber exports.

In turn, they want assurances the Americans will keep a promise to accept B.C. government timber pricing reforms aimed at removing the main U.S. complaint that logs from Crown lands are subsidized.
So, to sum up...

The U.S.' primary complaint over softwood lumber all along has been B.C.'s timber pricing system. (Never mind that the complaint was consistently found to be invalid, as the Cons gave away that string of wins last year.)

But under the Cons' capitulation, Canada is required to seek the U.S.' approval before making any changes to its regulatory regime on lumber pricing - including the types of changes that the U.S. was always demanding.

As a result, Canada is going into the negotiations seeking the U.S.' permission to do exactly what the U.S. has been demanding all along - with the implication that Canada may then be forced to make additional concessions in return for that permission.

It remains to be seen just how much more the Cons can give away long after the main deal was done. But it should be glaringly obvious that despite the Cons' assurances, the problems with softwood lumber are far from going away - and that Canada will be feeling the aftereffects of Harper's eager loss of sovereignty for as long as the deal remains in place.

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