The BC Lumber Trade Council and provincial government said Monday they will try to convince American consumers, politicians and lumber buyers that an equitable softwood lumber deal is needed to avoid the damage that will result from import restrictions into the U.S. and higher prices.
Susan Yurkovich, the president of the council, and B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson said no budget has been set for the lobbying effort, though they expect fees covering legal, consulting and advertising costs will add up.
“It’s a very expensive undertaking and it’s unfortunate that we’re doing this,” Yurkovich said from Ottawa after she and Thomson met with federal Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
If the past is any indication, such a campaign can be expensive. Mike Apsey, a former deputy minister in B.C. and forestry sector official, wrote in a book published in 2006 that the lumber industry spent $40 million on lawyers, lobbyists and consultants in the 1990s to defend its interests in a previous softwood dispute, not including public funds.
Yurkovich said the Canadian industry would rather work cooperatively with the U.S. sector to grow the lumber market and find a resolution to the softwood lumber dispute, which has become an increasing irritant in trade relations since efforts late last year to renew a past agreement failed.