Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty arrived in Washington, D.C. on Monday for three days of meetings about softwood lumber, NAFTA, the environment and defence spending.
As co-chair of the Conservative Softwood Lumber Taskforce, Doherty told the Tribune from Washington Tuesday he is inserting softwood lumber into every meeting and pushing for a quick resolution.
“I talk about how the uncertainty is impacting our riding,” Doherty said. “The softwood discussion has gone on for a almost century and at the end of the day even though Canada has won every trade litigation that has been levied against it, there have been losses.”
During the last softwood agreement war, 15,000 jobs were lost in the province of B.C. alone, he added.
“My message is that there will be losses on both sides of the border.”
Doherty said with the U.S. housing market starting to recover, the number one component in the industry is softwood and Canadian softwood makes up almost 33 per cent of the product.
“They need Canada’s softwood,” he said. “Who is going to feel the pinch when our lumber is coming across the border at a higher cost but the U.S. consumers? It is of key importance that we find a way to make sure that our industry is whole and the U.S. housing market continues to grow.”
One of the things he’s noticed while in Washington is that Canada does have champions in the U.S., he said.
“The meetings have been great in terms of giving the message that when the U.S. calls Canada answers, and when Canada calls that the U.S. answers,” Doherty said. “We are friends, we’re family and we share a border, and everything we can do to make sure we see each other as allies through thick and thin is so very important.”
Doherty said there are three teams of Canadians attending more than 80 meetings during the three days.
“There are 15 of us all together, including clerks and members of the Canadian Embassy. It’s all parties — Liberals, NDPs and Conservatives — and then we’ve got senators as well as members of parliament.”
Opening lines of communication with the U.S. is key, he added.
“It’s about shared collaboration on issues that we see are important and innovations coming up,” he said, noting some of the other meetings he’s attended were on the Great Lakes, the Columbia River Treaty and invasive species. “We are being graciously hosted by senators in congress that we are meeting with and they are taking time out of their day to listen to us.”