Canadian Sabre Rattling Begins Over US Softwood Lumber Agreement

The sabre rattling has begun over the softwood lumber agreement with some Canadian forest companies suggesting we turn off the gas and pull the plug on American consumers if the U.S. hinders Canadian access to its wood market

The sabre rattling has begun over the softwood lumber agreement with some Canadian forest companies suggesting we turn off the gas and pull the plug on American consumers if the U.S. hinders Canadian access to its wood market. The Canadian rhetoric is of course a little simplistic but it follows a fine tradition of Canadian-American lumber trade skirmishes that go back to the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854.

Things were just as convoluted and contradictory 150 years ago as they are today. New England lumber producers warned Canadian wood was in inexhaustible supply and capable of flooding the American market.

American lumbermen complained they had to pay higher stumpage than Canadians while trying to establish a monopoly for their often inferior products in the U.S. market. At the same time American lumber consumers who opposed their own lumber lobby asked in the American House of Representatives, ³Shall the whole country be taxed and its progress arrested for the sake of this monopoly?²

Plus ca change. It all sounds familiar. History may be best teacher. Nevertheless the reason it keeps repeating itself is because we are such lousy students. Here is the Vancouver Sun story, “Canada’s Trade Position”, in case you missed it.