B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark blitzed through the Cariboo region Friday, trying to reassure sawmill workers that their jobs will be safe, even though a nasty trade battle is brewing with the United States.
The U.S. is expected to announce early next week whether duties will be imposed on Canadian softwood lumber.
“We’re going to try to get you through this dispute,” Clark said to a forestry worker during a campaign stop at a mill in Quesnel.
“We’ll get there.”
Canada’s softwood agreement with the U.S. expired in 2015.
Getting a new deal that will benefit Americans is something that was clearly on President Donald Trump’s mind earlier this week when he lashed out at Canada’s dairy, energy and forestry sectors.
“We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers,” Trump said.
“Again I want to also just mention: included in there is lumber, timber and energy. So, we’re going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly.”
Clark, who says softwood lumber will be her number one priority if she is re-elected, says she’s also in a hurry to get to the bargaining table.
“I’m not scared of Donald Trump and I’m not scared of the rich American union leaders,” Clark said.
“We are going to fight and we are going to fight to make sure that the workers here at West Fraser, the workers at Tolko and the workers at sawmills across this province get a fair deal.”
As Clark was visiting Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George, B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan was at a campaign event in North Vancouver, accusing the Liberals of dragging their feet on the softwood lumber file.
“I don’t understand how the premier can say that she has been a champion for softwood lumber when we have known for two-and-a- half years that we would get to this place,” Horgan said.
“The deal expired two years ago. The one year standstill expired last fall and the B.C. Liberals didn’t take any meaningful action, any symbolic action, until they appointed David Emerson to be an emissary back in February.”
In its platform, the B.C. Green Party pledges to protect old growth forests from logging, curb the export of raw logs and bring in legislation to sustainably manage forests and rangelands.