Saturday, April 29, 2006

That softwood lumber deal

Well, as Emma pointed out, my last post mentioning the lumber issue went out just before the proposed deal hit wide circulation. Oops.

Symbolically, it's very bad that even the 20-odd percent negotiated away (about $1,000,000,000 - just to be clear) stays in the US, half of which will subvent their lumber industry and pay for their now successful Congressional lobbying. All of the money should have returned to Canada, and the rest of the negotiations should have started from this point. This is Harper's billion dollar boondoggle as the gun registry and HRDC were for the Liberals.

However, it's interesting how the Liberal governments in QC, BC and ON, initially against it, came around to accepting the deal (Alberta is said to have done so "reluctantly"). One wonders whether Harper mentioned that failure to bring in the chunk of the $4bn the government would accrue via taxation would have implications for provincial transfers... but that would be bullying and totally unworthy of a Canadian PM... yeah right! There is also the matter of the agreement giving the US a veto over internal provincial lumber policy if they feel it is designed to mitigate the effects of the conditional levies.

I'd love to say that this will teach Canadians that a properly formulated free trade agreement with the European Union should be expeditiously pursued in order to lessen our cross border dependence, but if we didn't see that the first 20 times we were spanked in NAFTA trade we're never going to. However, as soon as the cheques are cashed, Boeing and Lockheed should be told that National Defence will be sourcing its strategic and tactical lift from Antonov and Airbus - we thought we were going to have all these spare US dollars but we got mugged on the way home from the lumber mill.
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