Quebec mayors make case for 'win-win agreement' in softwood lumber dispute
Union of Quebec Municipalities holds meetings in Washington, D.C.
A group of Quebec mayors made its case in Washington, D.C. today for a quick end to the dispute over softwood lumber, which has hurt the industry in the province.
Communities across the province depend on the industry, said Drummondville Mayor Alexandre Cusson, who led a trade mission to the U.S. capital.
"We're looking for a win-win agreement, as quickly as possible," he said at a news conference Tuesday.
The comments come as the federal government's aid package for the softwood lumber industry is expected to go before cabinet for final approval.
Sources tell CBC News the package will contain a "substantial" envelope of money — just under a billion dollars — to help the sector struggling to cope with new tariffs recently imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Cusson and other representatives from the Union of Quebec Municipalities met with both allies and opponents in the dispute, including members of the U.S. Lumber Coalition, a lobby group representing American sawmills.
He was accompanied in Washington, D.C., by the mayors from Rivière-Rouge, Saint-Félicien, Senneterre and Val-d'Or — all communities dependant on the lumber industry.
Quebec sawmills have already been forced to adjust their output to deal with lower demand from the U.S. following the introduction of the new tax.
On Monday, Quebec-based Resolute Forest Products cut shifts at seven sawmills and delayed the start of forest operations, affecting 1,282 workers.
Roughly 90 per cent of Quebec's lumber exports head to the U.S. and the forestry sector accounts for 60,000 jobs in Quebec.
During the last softwood lumber dispute, Canada shed 20,000 forestry jobs between 2000 and 2006, and about 400 sawmills closed entirely between 2004 and 2009.