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Vernon  

Softwood penalties concern

Vernon Monashee MLA Eric Foster believes the province's softwood lumber industry is “in for a change” once U.S. president-elect Donald Trump takes office this week.

“We know what the president elect has said about the foreign supply of anything – cars or lumber or toothpicks – it doesn't matter,” Foster said, referring to Trump's protectionist rhetoric. “We're very concerned and we're expecting there's going to be some tarriffs.”

Last week, a U.S. trade commission ruled that Canadian lumber products were harming American producers.

The ruling sets the stage for the imposition of duties that could cause job losses and plant closures in Canada.

In Salmon Arm, Mayor Nancy Cooper also expressed her fears during a major speech to the chamber of commerce.

“Our region is highly reliant on the forest industry and any change in the trade relations with the United States could have a serious impact on local jobs,” said Cooper.

While B.C.'s finance minister has assured the public that the premier is working closely with Ottawa on the issue, others are not so certain.

“International courts have ruled that our timber is not subsidized, yet American corporations keep pushing for higher duties that kill B.C. jobs,” said NDP Leader John Horgan. “It’s unfair, and it has to stop.

“B.C. forest communities can’t afford a softwood deal at any cost, and Christy Clark too easily caves to corporate interests. We need to fight for the right deal to defend and grow forest jobs and the communities that depend on those jobs. We need to play hard ball.”

However Foster bristled at the opposition's comments.

“I don't know what John Horgan thinks he can do. Maybe he should go down to the United States and talk to Mr. Trump. See how they get along.”

– with files from Kevin Rothwell



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