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Doer says Alberta targets U.S. wood buyers to tip balance in softwood dispute

Last Updated May 17, 2017 at 9:20 am EDT

EDMONTON – Gary Doer, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., says one key to resolving the softwood lumber dispute is to enlist the help and support of wood buyers south of the border.

“We’ve got to get the Home Depots, the other companies that want good wood from Canada that is affordable and attainable,” Doer told reporters at the Alberta legislature Tuesday after meeting with Alberta Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier.

He said Canada has a strong legal case, but he said it’s also about influence.

“To put pressure on the decision makers you’ve got to get to the constituents. And the constituents are the customers,” he said.

Doer, also the former Manitoba premier, has been hired by the Alberta government to lobby for the province in the dispute.

Doer joins lobbyists hired by other provinces to make their case in the lumber impasse.

Late last month, the U.S. began slapping import tariffs of between three per cent and 24 per cent on softwood-lumber imports from Canada.

The U.S. says much of Canada’s wood comes from Crown land and that Canada sells the wood at artificially low prices, thereby giving an unfair advantage to companies north of the border.

Canada and the United States have crossed swords over softwood five times since 1981, and Canada has fought off many of the legal challenges.

The latest softwood deal ended in 2015.

Next month, the U.S. is expected to add anti-dumping duties to the countervailing duties.

Doer said he has been meeting with industry and government officials in Alberta to get some background and technical detail.

Carlier said he’s very confident Canada will win the latest fight.

“The way we harvest wood and the way we work in partnership with industry on Crown land is what we’ve always done,” said Carlier.