Premier Clark calls in Canada's ambassador, special envoy to map softwood strategy


VICTORIA — Premier Christy Clark says she feels confident about Canada’s chances of reaching a softwood lumber trade agreement with the new administration in the United States after a special meeting of the B.C. cabinet today.

Clark says Barack Obama’s administration was focused on reaching the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and barely responded to Canadian attempts to talk about the softwood deal, which expired in October 2015.

The premier invited Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, and David Emerson, B.C.’s new trade envoy on the softwood file, to the cabinet meeting to map B.C.’s approach to reaching a new trade agreement.

Emerson, a former federal cabinet minister who has been involved in previous softwood negotiations, says the forest industry has changed since the last deal was signed about a decade ago and Canada needs to take a fresh approach to addressing the concerns of protectionists in the United States.

MacNaughton says the administration of President Donald Trump places a low priority on the softwood file, but recent behind-the-scenes talks and the prime minister’s visit to Washington have managed to raise the profile of the agreement with the Americans.

Clark says Canada needs a new softwood agreement that protects the jobs of thousands of British Columbians employed in the province’s forest industry.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled David MacNaughton’s last name.

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