Forest Ministers Meet To Go Over Wildfire Strategy

Photo Courtesy: B.C. Wildfire Service

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Canada’s forest ministers wrapped up two days of meetings in the Yukon this week, calling for more work on wildfire management.

The Canadian Council of Forest Ministers has released a document including a ten year review of Canada’s wildland fire strategy.

BC’s Forests Minister, Steve Thomson says, in the wake of what has occurred this spring in Fort McMurray, it’s become apparent a cohesive, national strategy is needed to prepare governments and communities for the risk of major wildfires.

The ministers also received an update on the talks with the Americans aimed at renewing or replacing the now expired Softwood Lumber Agreement.

Earlier this year, the two sides agreed to work toward a new deal in a 100 day negotiating period, but it will end later this month, and so far there’s nothing to suggest a successful conclusion to the talks is near at hand.

Again we note the 2006 agreement, which ended five years of court battles and returned four billion dollars in duties collected by the Americans on Canadian producers expired October 12th of last year.

However, it includes a standstill clause preventing the US from launching new trade action against Canadian producers for one year after the expiration date.

Still the US Lumber Coalition, which represents American producers, has suggested in the absence of a new agreement the US could, “Eventually have no choice but to use our rights under US trade laws, to offset the unfair advantages provided to Canadian industry.”

American industry groups have long claimed Canada subsidizes its lumber production and the 2006 agreement was reached to regulate Canadian softwood exports to the US the value of which, although down substantially from where it was that year, was still three billion dollars as late as 2014.

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