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Softwood Dispute: A mill town struggles to survive

Canada and the United States are the world's largest trading partners, but there's one thing they've never agreed on: softwood lumber. The dispute dates back hundreds of years, but in the 1980s it turned nasty. The U.S. has slapped billions of dollars of fines on Canadian wood, jeopardizing thousands of jobs. The dispute raises serious questions about trade, sovereignty, and the real nature of Canada-U.S. relations.

Nakina calls itself "the fightingest town in Northern Ontario." The small community has survived economic downturns in the past - railway jobs that dried up, closure of the wood stud mill. But now the town's Kimberly-Clark sawmill is on the brink of closing its doors for good, a casualty of Canada's softwood export tax. It could spell the end of the 64-year-old community, leaving locals with no work and mortgaged homes they can't sell.
• More than 80,000 Canadians work in almost 1,000 saw mills across the country. In 1998, the majority of mills were in British Columbia (338), Quebec (276) and Ontario (137).

• An estimated 300 communities like Nakina depend on the forest industry.

(Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade)

• Nakina is in the centre of Northern Ontario, about 350 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. The town was created in 1923 at a junction point connecting the Transcontinental and Canadian Northern railways.
• Kimberly-Clark began operations near Nakina in 1959, building houses and apartment buildings for workers as the company expanded. It began shutting operations down in 1987 and continued scaling back until 1994, when only one camp remained.

• The town of Nakina (2003 population: 750) has a Web site that prominently features "The Nakina Declaration," which promises to create a new future for a town in transition. Nakina citizens, "do hereby declare our resolve to set forth our vision of community sustainability... We shall be proud of our efforts, being secure in the knowledge that our growth is not measured by the scales of enterprise but by the fulsomeness of the human spirit."
Medium: Television
Program: Saturday Report
Broadcast Date: Jan. 31, 1987
Guest(s): Vic Fournel, Rae Mercier, Betty Swanson
Host: Ann Medina
Reporter: Larry Stout
Duration: 4:14

Last updated: March 6, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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