OTTAWA, Ont. — With the Mar. 21 deadline for a resolution to the softwood lumber dispute looming ever closer, talks continue towards a solution.
Yesterday, International Trade Minister, Pierre Pettigrew, said that if Canada can’t win guaranteed access to U.S. markets, then the deadline will be missed. That remark came on the heels of meetings with forestry ministers from lumber producing provinces and industry leaders.
He also said that industry representatives are still optimistic a deal can be reached before the Mar. 21 deadline.
"What we’ve been hearing today is we should spare no effort at trying to get a good deal for Canada in the next week," Pettigrew says. But he adds that Canada is not willing to accept just any old offer.
"We do not want to be pressured into negotiating a deal at any cost," he says.
Talks will resume today in Washington, and Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, will be there to talks softwood with U.S. President, George Bush. Canadian sources are hopeful that chat will help raise the issue’s profile with the Bush administration.
"I hope the prime minister makes it very clear to Bush just how important this matter is to us," says Jake Kerr, co-chairman of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council.
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