Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his remarks and I wish him well in the fight against American protectionism and the fight for free trade in this sector.
I would like to ask the minister a somewhat technical question, but one that is very important in terms of jobs and the Canadian interest in this question. As the minister will know, the lumber industry includes not just the primary sector but a secondary sector that is involved in remanufacturing of wood products, many of which are directed toward the United States.
The minister will also know that this sector is very large. It includes, I think, 300 independent producers in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. It employs over 40,000 Canadians annually. Its production is about $4 billion annually in sales. The sector accounts for about 10% to 15% of Canada's exports to the U.S. under the current SLA.
The minister will also know that group is actively working on the development of a transparent and enforceable process through which Canada's secondary sector can be, from an administrative perspective, effectively excluded from any countervailing duties or from any other restrictions imposed on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S. either now or in the future.
My question is, does the minister recognize the concerns of the secondary lumber sector and support its efforts to avoid injury when the current SLA comes to an end?