Softwood Lumber Tariffs: Question Period – 27 April 2017
Here is the video and transcript of oral questions today recorded in the language it was originally spoken.
Mr. Coon: For 31 years, the Maritime Lumber Bureau, representing sawmills throughout the
Maritime Region, has successfully secured . . .
Mr. Speaker: The member for Gagetown-Petitcodiac will come to order.
Mr. Coon: . . . an exclusion from U.S. duties on softwood lumber exports because of the high
level of softwood production from private timberland, when you look at it on a regional basis.
When the Softwood Lumber Agreement expired in October 2015, J.D. Irving broke with the
Maritime Lumber Bureau and requested that the U.S. Department of Commerce investigate its
own New Brunswick-based mills. This put the exemption for all New Brunswick sawmills at
grave risk, and I raised that at the time, in the fall of 2015. When was the Premier informed that
the Maritime Lumber Bureau would be bypassed and New Brunswick would be going it alone
on softwood lumber?
Hon. Mr. Melanson: Thank you for the question on softwood lumber. I am sure that many of us
on the floor of the Legislature are following this very closely. I can tell you that, on this side of
the Legislature, we actually have not only been following it but also acting aggressively in trying
to convince the American government that the Maritimes need to keep the same status that we
have had over the last 35 years, which is exclusion.
I think it is important, when we speak on this file, that we be really careful. The Maritime lumber
industry and certainly the New Brunswick lumber industry have been benefiting from this
exclusion. They have been not only benefiting but also playing on a level playing field when it
comes to exporting softwood to the United States. It is important that we keep advocating and
pushing really hard to keep the status. That is what this government has been doing for the last
Mr. Speaker: Time, minister.
Mr. Coon: On a Maritime basis, in 2006, 80.2% of softwood lumber production was generated
from privately owned timberland, hence, the exemption. In 2015, it was 67%, still not far off the
72% on the U.S. side of the border. In isolation, roughly half of New Brunswick’s softwood
lumber production is from private timberland, which is why going it alone exposes sawmills in
this province to countervail duties.
I raised this concern at the time, in 2015, and the Premier said that he would keep an eye on it.
Since the Softwood Lumber Agreement expired in October 2015 and J.D. Irving decided to go it
alone, how many times has the minister of trade or his predecessors met with representatives of
the U.S. Department of Commerce to defend New Brunswick sawmills?
L’hon. M. Melanson : Nous travaillons au dossier du bois d’oeuvre depuis que nous formons le
gouvernement. Mon prédécesseur, qui était le ministre responsable des échanges commerciaux,
le premier ministre et moi-même, depuis le remaniement, avons pris toutes les démarches
disponibles non seulement pour convaincre le gouvernement américain mais aussi pour nous
assurer que le gouvernement canadien positionne les provinces Maritimes de façon à ce qu’elles
maintiennent leur statut d’exemption.
Alors, nous travaillons extrêmement fort, avec toutes les provinces Maritimes, ainsi qu’avec
Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador. Nous voulons nous assurer de maintenir la position dont nous avons
bénéficié depuis 35 ans. Toutes les démarches sont faites, et nous sommes extrêmement contents
que le gouvernement canadien ait positionné les provinces Maritimes afin qu’elles maintiennent
Nous allons continuer à travailler extrêmement fort, avec le gouvernement canadien et avec
l’industrie du Nouveau-Brunswick, à maintenir ce statut, afin que nous puissions en bénéficier
pour plusieurs années à venir.
Mr. Coon: J.D. Irving mills lost their exemption from softwood lumber duties after they
voluntarily presented themselves for investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce. They
are now paying a 3% countervailing duty since they procure timber from Crown lands, while
smaller, independent mills with higher wood costs—some that use less softwood from Crown
land or none at all—have been slapped with a 20% duty retroactive to three months ago. There
may be more with the antidumping duties decision coming in June. How did the government
allow this to happen, or was it happy to let J.D. Irving lead the negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Melanson: I would recommend that the member opposite actually discuss this with
the industry. We have to be really careful. Those in the industry are sticking together. They are
working really closely together to make sure that we position and that we keep positioning so
that the status that we have had for the last 35 years will be maintained. That is why the Premier,
the entire government, and I have been advocating and pushing strongly, not only to the federal
government but also to the south side of the border, over the last many months and years behind
We discuss with the industry almost on a daily basis. We discuss with the federal government
regularly. We actually met with Minister Freeland. The Premier also discussed this with Minister
Freeland, the Prime Minister, and every Premier in the country. We are working very hard and
doing our due diligence in consultation with the New Brunswick industry. We hope that, when
the final determination comes in the fall, we will have good news.
Mr. Speaker: Time.