More closures at B.C. lumber mills

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MAPLE RIDGE, B .C. — The latest U.S. anti-dumping duty against Canadian softwood was the final nail in the coffin for 345 employees at Hammond and Albion Cedar.

Pink slips went out on Nov. 9, at the two mills, as well as McDonald Cedar in For Langley.

Hammond Cedar is the world’s largest redwood cedar mill, but it’s parent company, International Forest Products (IFP), says it had no choice but to close shop, at least temporarily.

“We can’t do business. It’s impossible,” IFP vice-president, Jack Draper tells local media. “We’ve curtailed operations, but we want to restart. We’re thinking about what we can do to get it going.”

The latest mills to be affected by the U.S.-imposed duties support a U.S.-based coalition that is calling for exemptions to the softwood tariffs for cedar. That’s because Canadian cedar producers don’t compete directly with American lumber companies.

But in the meantime, Draper says Ottawa is to blame.

“The shot-callers in Canada and the U.S. have to get on with serious negotiations,” he says.

Bill Westmacott, a Hammond Cedar employee affected by the cuts, agrees.

“As far as I’m concerned, the federal government is sleeping at the wheel,” he tells local media. “It’s typical, the West is suffering because of the indifference of Ottawa.”

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