Canada Considers Retaliation Against U.S. In Escalating Timber War

May 8, 2017
Originally published on May 8, 2017 5:34 pm

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s carefully and seriously considering a request from the premier of British Columbia to deny U.S. coal exports through Vancouver.

The ban would be a retaliation in the escalating trade war over softwood lumber. But one Montana timberman says it may just be election rhetoric. British Columbia votes for its premier tomorrow. Gordy Sanders is a resource manager at Pyramid Mountain lumber in Seeley Lake.

“As you well know, anytime folks are running for office, they’re likely to say and do a number of different things to position themselves to get elected," says Sanders.

In April, the Trump administration placed tariffs on softwood lumber coming from across the border. While they could save some timber jobs in Montana, it could also cost over a thousand jobs in British Columbia. So, last month, B.C. premier Christy Clark asked Trudeau to retaliate by banning shipments of U.S. thermal coal. On Friday, Trudeau responded, saying he was giving her request careful consideration.

Analysts say Cloud Peak Energy, which owns a mine near Decker, Montana, would be the biggest coal exporter affected by a ban. The company’s stock has dropped by about ten percent since Clark made her request.

Trudeau is also considering slapping duties on products imported from Oregon, including plywood, flooring, wood chips, packaging material and wine. That move, The Canadian Press reports, is a slapback against Oregon senator Ron Wyden, a hardliner in the lumber dispute.

On Saturday, the Trump administration called Canada’s threats inappropriate, and insisted they would have no effect on the U.S.’s course of action. A second round of duties on Canadian softwood lumber are expected in June.

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