Sell-Out This, Layton
Many said that a softwood deal couldn’t be crafted by the Federal government. Many said the provinces would never support one if they did. Many said that industry would never come onside.
Who are these “many”? The members of the BC Federal NDP caucus, of course.
Now we know that their concerns are completely altruistic. They are not concerned with minor matters like winning more seats. Oh no, they care deeply about the sector.
They care so deeply they are willing to sink the government and go against the wishes of a majority of the industry in order to prove their point.
The new softwood package isn’t the perfect deal.
The industry is only able to claim back 80%of the illegal duties paid, not the entire amount. There are concerns around the export tax and the new duty structure.
But let’s remember that until two weeks ago it looked the deal might collapse altogether before some fancy footwork by the Federal government gained additional concessions from the Americans on termination clauses and the “anti-circumvention” rules.
Industry has gradually come around, motivated as much by the relief of getting the never-ending saga behind them, as by the fear that if they didn’t take this deal, the Feds might hand over the file and walk away.
Various company spokespeople have said, while it doesn’t provide the ideal solution, the agreement at last provides some certainty to the troubled industry.
In an interview yesterday, Seth Kursman from Abitibi-Consolidated said: "In a negotiation, it is about getting enough of what you want and need. And we believe that's the case here. It is time to bring peace to this contentious issue."
That sentiment seems to have permeated the companies involved in the dispute – it is time for peace.
The battle was costly for the sector. It sucked time, money and management focus away from their core business. It cost thousands of forestry workers their jobs, including up to 15,000 here in BC.
It also carved deep divides through the forestry sector, between those who wanted to fight to the death and those who wanted to negotiate a settlement as quickly as possible.
Everyone has come to the table, talked it through, argued their points and accepted some compromise.
And now the NDP are screaming “sell-out”.
Thanks, Jack Layton. That is really, really productive.
If the industry hadn’t agreed to support the deal, then the NDP might have had grounds for squawking.
But if they would prefer some other magical deal, let’s see it. I’m sure out-of-work forestry workers would love to keep sitting on their butts for the next twenty years.
(As seen today in 24 Hours Daily)