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Ottawa to lobby Americans on softwood issue

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The federal government pledged $20 million yesterday to help educate American consumers about the i...

OTTAWA, Ont. — The federal government pledged $20 million yesterday to help educate American consumers about the impact U.S. softwood duties are having on them.

While $17 million will go towards a massive publicity campaign by Canadian lobby groups in the U.S., another $3 million is earmarked to help the Canadian Embassy prepare to do battle over the issue.

The latest contributions from Ottawa complement the $75 million already pledged by Ottawa earlier this month to help bail out the Canadian forestry industry.

Pierre Pettigrew, International Trade Minister, made the announcement yesterday, stating “In addition to hurting Canadians, punitive U.S. lumber duties also hurt American consumers, home builders and workers.”

He adds “We fully support our industry in its efforts to bring these damaging costs to the attention of Americans. When they realize that these duties favor the few at the expense of many, perhaps Americans will see the need to resolve the dispute in a reasonable way.”

Meanwhile, lumber workers in B.C. took their message to the Canada/U.S. border and have already been distributing leaflets to Americans at several well-travelled border crossings.

“I don’t know if the average American knows about (the softwood lumber dispute),” says one U.S. resident after being approached by the campaigners. “It doesn’t affect them so it’s not their concern.”

Pettigrew says the $3 million slated for the Canadian Embassy and consulates will enable Canada to bring not only the softwood lumber dispute to the forefront, but other trade barriers as well, such as the U.S. Farm Bill.

“We will use the enhanced advocacy resources to reinforce the efforts of our Embassy and consulates against rising protectionist actions in the United States,” says Pettigrew. “In Washington and elsewhere in the United States, we will aggressively voice our concerns about U.S. actions in sectors such as lumber, agriculture and energy.”

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