OTTAWA, Ont. — Jean Chretien cleared his throat and proverbially did his best impression of Marie Antoinette yesterday as he took aim at U.S. punitive softwood policies.
“I believe that if they want to have free trade in natural gas and oil, they should have free trade in wood, too, because if they were not to have oil and gas from Canada they will need a lot of wood to heat their homes,” he explains.
The Prime Minister says Canada expects the same open borders for lumber as the U.S. accords its oil and gas purchases from this country.
He linked the sectors — an approach that earned him the anger of the energy industry earlier this year — when he mused in the House of Commons about how the U.S. would get by without Canadian oil and gas.
To date, softwood lumber duties have resulted in 16,000 job losses in B.C. mill towns and analysts suggest the toll could end up above 30,000. Canadian energy exports amount to $30-billion annually.
Chretien promises to raise the softwood dispute issue with George W. Bush in a phone call slated to take place later this week.
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