Monsieur le Président, je suis heureuse d'avoir l'occasion, à cette heure très tardive, de défendre les travailleurs de l'industrie forestière, de la construction et de la rénovation domiciliaire de Kelowna-Lake Country, en Colombie-Britannique, et de partout au Canada et, surtout, de défendre les familles ordinaires.
Le bois d'œuvre joue un rôle essentiel dans l'économie canadienne, et des milliers de familles dépendent de sa production pour assurer l'approvisionnement de nos marchés intérieurs et nos exportations. Un accord sur le bois d'œuvre est essentiel pour assurer cette réalité et cette stabilité. Le bois d'œuvre étant un produit de base nord-américain, l'inaction des libéraux a entraîné une hausse des prix au Canada. Le dernier accord entre le Canada et les États-Unis a été négocié par le précédent gouvernement conservateur et a expiré en octobre 2015. Avant cela, l'actuel premier ministre avait promis de négocier un nouvel accord dans les 100 premiers jours de son mandat. Il y a eu trois administrations américaines et plus de 2 000 jours ont passé depuis, et il n'y a eu aucune négociation officielle.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity at this very late hour to stand up today for workers in forestry, contracting and home renovations in Kelowna—Lake Country, British Columbia, and across Canada, and, most importantly, the opportunity to stand up for everyday families.
Softwood lumber plays a critical role in Canada's economy, and thousands of families rely on its production to supply our domestic markets and our exports. A softwood lumber agreement is critical to providing that certainty and stability. With lumber being a North American commodity, Liberal inaction has led to higher prices in Canada. The last agreement Canada had with the United States was negotiated with the previous Conservative government and expired in October of 2015. Leading up to that expiration, the current Prime Minister promised to negotiate a new agreement within his first 100 days in office. There have been three U.S. administrations and over 2,000 days since then, and we have heard of no formal negotiations.
The Liberals were also outmanoeuvred during CUSMA negotiations by failing to include softwood lumber in that agreement. On February 27, 2020, the Conservative members from the trade committee wrote the Deputy Prime Minister, outlining the “adverse impacts of CUSMA” on softwood lumber and warning that CUSMA “does not prevent the United States from applying antidumping and countervailing duties to Canadian softwood lumber.” They gave many recommendations, none of which have been acted on. Taking the easy way out and failing to negotiate softwood lumber into CUSMA put Canadian businesses and workers at risk. Simply put, the Liberals keep getting outmanoeuvred.
There is clear evidence that jobs and investment are going south. The charts of North America production of softwood lumber show that as of 2015, Canadian production has fallen, while it has been steadily rising in the U.S.. We have heard from within the industry that this is due to so much uncertainty over the past almost six years. Lumber production and exports to the United States are key to the industry's long-term stability and viability, as our supply chains are integrated. This situation was further exacerbated when the U.S. commerce department announced that it intended to double the tariffs on our lumber exports on May 21, 2021.
That is why I, along with my Conservative colleagues on the international trade committee, called for an emergency meeting to address this potentially devastating issue. At the June 4 meeting, the minister stated during her testimony, “I think the tariffs that have been imposed are certainly causing concern for home builders and for consumers.” The minister postured, as she was unable to point to any meetings or calls that had taken place with any of her U.S. counterparts in the nearly two weeks it had been at that time since the commerce department's announcement. We have had no negotiations since the last agreement expired that we have heard of, and there are no upcoming scheduled negotiations.
Prior to that meeting, I also had the opportunity to question the minister during debates on the main estimates on May 31, when I wanted to clarify conflicting comments. The U.S. trade representative, Ambassador Tai, had testified during U.S. congressional hearings that Canada has “not expressed interest in engaging” when it came to softwood lumber. Several days later, the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources implied at a natural resources committee meeting that it was in fact the U.S. that was not willing.
My question to the minister is simple. When will the government quite hiding its failures behind a wall of opaque talking points and finger pointing and start getting to work for my constituents in Kelowna—Lake Country, British Columbia and Canada, and when will the government get serious and start negotiations on a new softwood lumber agreement?