Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On giveaways

Peter Julian points out that the costs of the softwood capitulation may well involve Canada cutting a cheque to the U.S. depending on how many Canadian producers don't want to be stuck with the deal:
Julian is demanding the Trade Minister immediately release the cost of the softwood sell-out to Canadian taxpayers. The call comes one week after the announcement by the Harper government that it fell short on the number of softwood industry approvals needed for a buy-in – but refused to release the vote totals. Julian estimates that the Canadian government will have to send a cheque to Washington for at least $152 million (m) if the Minister misses his mark by 15 % and that number will rise dramatically with each company unwilling to drop their softwood-lawsuits.

“Accountability is what this government ran on and they have failed to deliver it on softwood. Working families deserve to know the hidden costs of this deal. We gave into the Bush administration. Leaving billions on the table is not my idea of standing up for Canada. And, hiding the real costs certainly isn’t accountability.”
The effect (according to today's CP article about Julian's statement) is to reduce the expected amount of money available for payment to the CFLI and Bushco slush funds created by the deal. And since the protection money to the U.S. apparently takes priority over any payment to Canadian producers, that leaves Canada to make up the difference as the price for the Cons' failure to negotiate a deal worth buying into.

Presumably the upcoming parliamentary hearings will enable us to know just how far short of the mark the Cons are in terms of industry support - though Julian is right in pointing out that there's no reason why speculation should be necessary given the Cons' ability to go public with the numbers now. But whatever the outcome this fall, Harper's willingness to make up the difference to the U.S. in order to force the deal through makes for a striking contrast against his government's refusal to offer any further support to Canada's lumber industry. And yet another piece of evidence of Harper's allegiance to U.S. interests over Canadian ones can only make more clear the need to replace the Cons with a government which will put Canada first.

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