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Statement: Law Suits Against Softwood Lumber Agreement

Honourable senators, Tuesday was a sad day for our country. On that day, both the Ontario Lumber Manufacturers Association and the Ontario Forest Industries Association filed a lawsuit against the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States challenging the suspension of an extraordinary challenge notice by both governments on Friday, May 12, 2006.

On Tuesday, as the result of the proposed softwood agreement yet to be signed, our own Canadian forest industry had no choice but to file a lawsuit against this Tory government because this Tory government has turned its back on them and went along with the George W. Bush protectionist lumber plan.

Let me put forward a few eye-opening quotations from Tuesday. The first is from Jamie Lim, President of the Ontario Forest Industries Association:

The two federal governments have conspired to prevent Canadian private industry from finalizing a decision of a NAFTA panel for which we fought for four long years. The panel found that Canadian softwood lumber is not subsidized.

Carl Grenier of the Free Trade Lumber Council said the following:

We and everybody else in Canada connected to this issue were given to understand that Canada had to complete a framework deal by 5:00 p.m. on April 27 to avoid having the United States file an extraordinary challenge; this deadline turned out to be an elaborate charade.

Another quotation is from retired senior federal trade negotiator Mel Clark who says the agreement is "perpetual U.S. protection and it leaves the Canadian industry, its people, its communities, without hope."

Honourable senators, these are very strong words, and, as I understand them, they are the words of an industry that has been abandoned by its government. This government cannot muzzle these words. These are the words of Canadians that have supported the free trade agreement with the U.S. These are the words representing billions of dollars of investment in our Canadian economy and in jobs in rural communities. These are the words based on the belief that the Canadian government would be there to help and protect the industry through the NAFTA agreement.

Honourable senators, these are the words of Canadian citizens that deserve to be listened to and deserve to motivate a study of this proposed softwood agreement by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.