May 23, 2017 3:17 pm
Updated: May 23, 2017 5:47 pm

Former U.S. Ambassador to Canada confident softwood lumber solution can be found

WATCH ABOVE: The man hired by the Gallant government to help in the softwood lumber controversy says he believes he knows the right people in Washington to broker a deal that those in the lumber industry can live with. As Andrew Cromwell reports, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins helped broker the last softwood lumber agreement in 2006.

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New Brunswick’s special envoy on trade and softwood lumber says he will work to ensure U.S. politicians know how important lumber is, both as an export for the province and a necessity for American families.

David Wilkins, who was the U.S. ambassador to Canada from 2005 to 2009, met with Premier Brian Gallant today in Saint John.

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READ MORE: New Brunswick hires former U.S. ambassador David Wilkins as softwood envoy

In his first 15 months as ambassador, Wilkins helped resolve a softwood lumber dispute, with the support of most of the Canadian lumber industry.

“The way to do it is to find a reasonable negotiated settlement and I believe that settlement includes an exemption to the Maritimes, including New Brunswick,” Wilkins said.

In his new role, he will assist with softwood lumber lobbying efforts, promote New Brunswick business, trade and investment opportunities with the U.S., and provide the province with strategic advice.

“In the end, negotiations are reached by people of goodwill sitting around a table advocating their positions, trying to find middle ground,” he said. “So a lot of this other stuff is just fluff.”

Gallant added that the province recognizes the precarious position many in New Brunswick’s softwood lumber industry find themselves in.

“That’s why we’re going to certainly work very hard with a sense of urgency,” Gallant said. “Myself, the government officials, and of course Mr. Wilkins [will work] to ensure that we get to speak to as many decision-makers as quickly as possible.”

With files from Andrew Cromwell, Global News

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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