(Quebec) prefect of the regional county municipality (RCM) Etchemins and mayor of Lac-Etchemin, Harold Gagnon still fresh in memory the last round – that of 2002-2006 – between Canada and the United States timber.

“We lost 1,000 jobs. Yes, 1,000 jobs! For MRC of just under 17 000 inhabitants, let me tell you that it gives a blow, “he describes the Sun .

“At Sainte-Aurélie, for example, there were five or six sawmills. Today, it is still more than two. Between 400 and 500 jobs are gone. A disaster for a community of less than 900 inhabitants. ”

While Canada and the United States are engaged in a new round of negotiations – the fifth – to conclude a new agreement on softwood lumber, Harold Gagnon notes that everyone is sitting at the end of his chair. And expect the worst.

“How all this going to end? Nobody knows. What I see, moreover, is that the logging activity is idling. The timber carriers trucks are in the course and do not move too much. ”

“The future is not rosy at all, especially that we should approach a new crisis lumber,” says Yanick Godbout, director and curator for export at Développement PME Chaudière-Appalaches. “In the Etchemins RCM, it is said that trees die of old age, as there is virtually no cutting is done!”

The importance of the forest

The forest covers the majority (71%) of the territory of the region of Chaudière-Appalaches. It occupies 80% of the MRC Etchemins.

No wonder the Chaudière-Appalaches region is the main manufacturing of wood products in Quebec. The timber sector in this region has 244 institutions of first, second and third processing employing nearly 4,000 workers and generating in 2012 revenues of more than $ 950 million of goods manufactured. The number, there have been forty mills. Less than a score of them has more than 25 employees.

“Following the crisis of 2002-2006 lumber and difficulties encountered thereafter by the US economy, there are many mill closures,” reports Lise Cere, director of Wood Chaudière-Appalaches, an organization that helps manufacturing companies in the wood processing sector to become more competitive.

Many sawmills and primary producers who sell their timber in the United States. Few have, moreover, that export outside of the country of Uncle Sam.

There Materiaux Blanchet (Saint-Pamphile) which brews business in Asia, Sartigan (Saint-Honoré-de-Shenley) in Europe and DG Forest Products (Saint Cosmas Linière) in South America.

“It’s not easy to place on foreign markets,” notes Yanick Godbout. “The wood is big, it’s heavy. Transport costs are high. And major players such as Russia, are very present, especially towards Asia. ”

Sawmills must then make scrambling to sell their timber companies to second and third transformation, including furniture manufacturers.

“Some furniture manufacturers, there is less and less,” remarked Lise Cere.

A plan to revive the economy

While its neighbors in the region of Chaudière-Appalaches – only think of the Beauce and Lévis – riding the wave of growth, Etchemins RCM fails to get its economy running.

“We are determined to diversify our economy, too often abused by the miseries of the forest industry, and to give a boost to local entrepreneurship,” the prefect of the Etchemins RCM and mayor of Lac-Etchemin, Harold Gagnon .

To do this, put the region on three areas of development: the resort, recreational tourism and support for the creation of industrial jobs.

Grocery list

At the last election the Liberal candidates and their leader, Philippe Couillard, had asked the socioeconomic leaders Etchemins RCM to make proposals to help revive the region.

They were taken at his word. They now hope to be heard.

The MRC has just sent to the Quebec government’s shopping list.

Asked among other flexibilities in agricultural zoning and environmental regulations to promote the establishment of new permanent residents and vacationers.

“We offer the government to designate us as a kind of MRC laboratory to enable the realization of pioneering projects that come out of traditional norms,” says Gagnon. To fund projects included in its stimulus plan, the RCM application a boost of $ 1.2 million for a minimum of three years.

Death, Taxes and a chicane on lumber
Among the fatalities of life, there is death, taxes and a good fight with the United States on softwood lumber!

Canadian lumber across the border since the days of New France.

After World War II (1939-1945), the Canadian lumber exports to our southern neighbors are soaring.

Obviously, that is not the happiness of American producers which then exacerbate pressures on Washington to Uncle Sam imposes measures to restrict access of Canadian lumber to the vast US market.

For US producers, their long-term survival is threatened. Protectionist measures are required.

A first round of negotiations begins in 1982-1983.

It will follow a second in 1986. Then a third in 1991-1996. And a fourth in 2001-2006.

The latest agreement governing softwood trade between Canada and the United States was signed in September 2006. It was due to end in October 2013, but was extended until October 2015.

“As part of this agreement, it was expected that Canada imposes measures to apply taxes and quotas on exports of softwood lumber to the United States. In exchange, the United States agreed not to initiate investigations in order to impose anti-dumping or countervailing duties on exports of softwood lumber from Canada for the duration of the agreement and during the 12 following month maturity, “says the Quebec Ministry of Economy, Science and Innovation on its website.

Canada and the United States have therefore begun a fifth round of talks in less than 35 years.

Canada not comply?

Also according to the Ministry of Economy, Science and Innovation, “the US pretext that Canada – as the federal government and the provincial governments – subsidizes timber producing lumber, which would not comply with the international commitments made by Canada and confer the same token, the possibility the United States to introduce countervailing duties in the form of tariffs. The American argument stems from differences between forest regimes in the US and Canada, where the majority of developed land in the public domain. ”

By adopting in 2013 a forest regime, the Quebec government believes it implemented a “free market” of wood.

“Our auction system and the implementation of its results on the value of the supply guarantees, ensures that 100% of timber from public lands in Quebec is allocated according to its fair market value. It invalidates any presumption of unfair competition from American lumber producers, “said in June, the former Minister of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks, Laurent Lessard.

What timber

Also called timber, lumber is used primarily for the construction of house frames. Spruce, pine and cedar are the main species processed into lumber. Outputs of the forest, logs are transported to factories timber where they are processed into boards, planks or beams. Source: CBC