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Canada is going to officially challenge an American decision to increase duties on softwood lumber exported to the United States.

In a statement issued Wednesday, International Trade Minister Mary Ng said Canada will file notices under the North American free trade pact.

“Rulings on this issue have consistently found Canada to be a fair trading partner, and Canada is confident that rulings will continue to find Canada to be one,” Ms. Ng said in the statement.

“Filing these notices is another step that Canada is taking to defend the forestry sector and Canada’s national interests.”

At issue, said the Minister, is the United States, on Nov. 24, nearly doubled the duty rate for most Canadian softwood lumber producers to 17.9 per cent.

The Minister noted Canada’s softwood lumber industry is key to the forestry sector, which employed nearly 185,000 workers in 2020 and contributed more than $25-billion to the GDP in the same year.

Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, said they applaud the Canadian move.

“We remain steadfast in our position that these unfair duties are harmful to not only B.C. businesses and workers, but also U.S. consumers looking to renovate and build new homes,” Ms. Yurkovich said in a statement.

“We will continue to vigorously defend our industry against these baseless claims and thank the Government of Canada for standing with forest product workers and their families.”

The trade council noted that B.C. is the largest Canadian exporter of softwood lumber to the U.S, with the forest industry in the province linked to approximately 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province.

Ms. Ng said Canada is hoping for a negotiated solution with the United States on the issue.

Earlier this month, Globe and Mail business reporter Brent Jang wrote on the impact of the higher U.S. duties. His story is here.

Also, Michael Kelly-Gagnon and Anthony B. Kim offer analysis here on the impact of increased U.S. duties on Canadian softwood.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


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Private meetings in Ottawa. The Prime Minister receives a COVID-19 briefing from Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam.


No schedule released Deputy Prime Minister.


No schedules released for the party leaders.


Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how Canada’s constitutional order can be restored after the notwithstanding clause has destabilized it: The federal government could declare, ideally in the form of legislation, not only that it would never use the notwithstanding clause itself, but that it would use the power of disallowance to veto any law, passed by any provincial legislature, that invoked the notwithstanding clause. It’s too late to apply that remedy to Bill 21 – the Constitution requires that it be invoked within a year of a bill’s passage. But it could be used to prevent future Bill 21s.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how Canadians are converging towards the political centre as Americans become more polarized: “It is reasonable to assume that there was a backlash against Trump in Canada,” says Andrew Parkin, executive director of the Environics Institute. “Not only did Canadians not go down that path, the whole experience might have pushed us in the opposite direction.” Canadians consistently expressed higher levels of contentment than Americans with their political system and its institutions. They also had greater trust in the fairness of elections and were more likely to believe that their rights were being protected.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will complete his father’s work on the notwithstanding clause: “In a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his father’s hopes that the political costs of invoking the notwithstanding clause would discourage any government from using it have not materialized. Quebec’s actions, and those of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, whose government invoked the clause to impose restrictions on third-party election advertising, have him considering asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause. Short of abolishing Section 33 – a political impossibility, for now – this would advance the work his father set out to do.”

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