Evidence of meeting #18 for International Trade in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was chair.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Susan Yurkovich  President and Chief Executive Officer, BC Council of Forest Industries, BC Lumber Trade Council
Andre Harpe  Chair, Grain Growers of Canada
Jesse Whattam  Coordinator, Trade Justice Network
Claude Vaillancourt  Member, Réseau québécois sur l'intégration continentale
Erin Gowriluk  Executive Director, Grain Growers of Canada
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Christine Lafrance

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much. I'm sorry for the technology and translation issues.

We go on to Mr. Hoback as our last questioner, for five minutes, please.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

I have a point of order, Madam Chair.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Mrs. Gray, go ahead.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Hoback is just rebooting. He'll be online shortly.

We can move to our next speaker, Mr. Aboultaif, instead.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

Mr. Aboultaif, go ahead.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Thanks, Chair.

The question is for Ms. Yurkovich. It's on softwood lumber.

How much progress have we made in the last five years towards changing the position of the U.S. when it comes to our industry?

12:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, BC Council of Forest Industries, BC Lumber Trade Council

Susan Yurkovich

I would like to say “a lot”, but we are still here. We are still in this.

The tricky thing about the U.S. is that if the Government of Canada could actually create an agreement with the U.S. and bind the Canadian industry to that agreement, this is not the case in the United States. The U.S. industry can use its trade laws—and they do, regularly—against our industry, and the U.S. government can't actually enter into an arrangement without the industry at the table. So it's very difficult. It has become a kind of business strategy for them to use their trade laws against Canada.

It's unfortunate. We have a lot of work to do to grow demand for wood and low-carbon wood products. It's super frustrating to us that we haven't been able to resolve this. We think there are way more opportunities to be had by working collectively and collaboratively to increase fibre from sustainably managed forests in all kinds of products, but instead, we continue to spend a lot of time and energy on litigation.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

If I understand correctly, then, this is a private sector solution. Is that correct?

12:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, BC Council of Forest Industries, BC Lumber Trade Council

Susan Yurkovich

Well, no, it's ultimately.... This disagreement has been resolved in the past. If history is a teacher of how this will be resolved in the future.... It has been resolved at some point when the leadership of both countries have dug in and brought their weight to bear, on the U.S. industry in particular.

My expectation is that we will get there at some point. We have many issues on the plate of both governments. Hopefully we're coming out of a global pandemic. We have lots of work to do to lift people up. We hope that when we get through this, the softwood lumber issue will be back on the table and we can get a durable solution.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Thank you.

Madam Chair, can we go back to Mr. Hoback and give him a chance to ask his question?

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Mr. Hoback, the floor is yours.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Thank you, Chair. Hopefully you can hear me okay. It's amazing how your computer decides to update itself as you start questions.

This is to the forestry association.

This has been an ongoing dispute. One thing I will say about the appellate body is that modifications need to be made. One of the frustrations I find is that when we do get a judgment in our favour, such as the one you received this summer, there's no way to enforce that judgment. Of course now, in this case, they've appealed it. But in the past, we still had the same problem.

Is there any advice that you'd give the Canadian government as they go through the modifications in the appellate body that we should be looking at?

12:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, BC Council of Forest Industries, BC Lumber Trade Council

Susan Yurkovich

I think that's a good question. These decisions are what has brought weight to bear on the Department of Commerce, because these WTO decisions are prospective. They actually don't give us a lot of recourse, even when we get a positive decision.

One thing you have to look at when you get these decisions is what the enforcement mechanism is for making sure that the decisions are respected and that any outcomes that are in those—

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Point of order, Madam Chair.

There is still no interpretation.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

We have a translation problem again.

12:25 p.m.

The Clerk

Ms. Yurkovich, can you put your mike a little bit further from your mouth? It's popping too much. That's what I was told.

12:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, BC Council of Forest Industries, BC Lumber Trade Council

Susan Yurkovich

Is this a better sound?

12:25 p.m.

The Clerk

It's much better. Thank you very much.

12:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, BC Council of Forest Industries, BC Lumber Trade Council

Susan Yurkovich

Okay. I'm sorry about that.

I think what we should also look at is what the enforcement mechanisms are and how we put these decisions into force. As the changes are being looked at, I think that's something we need to look at as well.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

We found the same with COOL, the country of origin labelling, on beef products. We won the case, and then we had to figure out a strategy to actually enforce the win.

I'm going to pivot to the Grain Growers of Canada here, because I have a little bit of time. Can you explain to me why, in the Italian durum case, there hasn't been a challenge? Why haven't we taken this to the WTO? Also, do you think that this has brought on other tariff actions in other countries, because we haven't stood up in the Italian case?

12:30 p.m.

Chair, Grain Growers of Canada

Andre Harpe

Go ahead, Erin.

March 8th, 2021 / 12:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Grain Growers of Canada

Erin Gowriluk

Thank you.

I don't know why we haven't brought it to the WTO. I know the industry has been calling on the Canadian government to do just that—to your point specifically, Mr. Hoback—because we want to see a resolution of this issue, and that has a direct and immediate impact on the Canadian grain farmers.

But I think more broadly, what we're seeing now is that there is this contagion, if you will. As I mentioned earlier with regard to the European Union's farm to fork strategy, there are provisions within that strategy to allow that similar requirement to exist outside of Italy and across the European Union. When those issues go unaddressed, for example, that's our fear. Our fear is that the signal is sent that this is okay, and that there are no ramifications or consequences when you don't abide by the rules embedded in the agreement. In this case, it's the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union.

We continue to ask for the Canadian government's assistance. We'd like to see this brought before the WTO—to resolve the issue, but also to ensure that we send a strong signal that Canada believes in rules-based, science-based trade and we're prepared to stand up for it.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

How much time do I have left, Chair?

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

You don't have any left, according to my schedule.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Okay, thanks.