Mr. Speaker, the handling of the softwood lumber issue has been very distressing to many Canadians and especially British Columbians because we are the major producer of softwood lumber into the U.S. Some 50% of what goes into that market comes from British Columbia.
We are almost three years into the dispute and there has been no real resolution. It has been going through the process. It would have been nice if the government could have resolved this on a more equitable basis, on a government to government basis, rather than having to rely on NAFTA and the WTO. Decisions are coming down slowly but surely. The recent WTO decision was positive for Canada. A NAFTA decision is due fairly shortly and we will have to see what happens there.
Certainly it has not been handled well. We await the conclusion of this matter so that the borders can be opened to our lumber once again on a free basis. The only solution to this is to have free and open access to the U.S. market.
When it comes to the softwood lumber community adjustment initiative, my colleague is correct. This $110 million program, of which $55 million was to go to B.C., was announced with great fanfare in December 2002, but B.C. has seen very little of that money.
Many communities have applied for funding but very little of that funding has been allocated. It may have been allocated but the cheques have not been written. I have asked questions in the House as to when the cheques will be coming. I am very much afraid the cheques will come out during an election or shortly before an election to buy voters.